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Water Works

                                         March 2010  

Water works!

Drinking waterWater isn’t the most appealing drink; it lacks flavour and doesn’t even look particularly interesting. But most of us know that we should drink water every day. This is because our bodies are made up of almost two thirds water. I find this an astounding figure, where can all that water be hidden? But it does bring home the fact that we should drink enough water to keep healthy.

General guidelines recommend people drink at least eight glasses of water a day but of course requirements vary depending on your weight, health and lifestyle – to say nothing of the size of the glass! We get quite a lot of water, up to around a fifth of our required intake, through the food we eat; but even so experts recommend we drink two litres of the clear liquid every day. Actually this makes some sense because on average, we will urinate away around 1.5 litres every day and we will lose another litre through breathing and sweating.

So it is quite easy to build a deficit – some nutritionists say around three quarters of the population is dehydrated.

Many of us think we are okay because we drink so much tea or coffee; but the problem here is that these drinks are diuretics; they help water pass out of your body and increase the amount of water your body uses. Some drinks other than water can be useful in helping to lift your fluid intake. Water is generally the main ingredient in many drinks including carbonated drinks, still drinks and fruit juices – but these also have calorie and other aspects to consider. Drinking some pure water every day is really beneficial.

An increasing number of people are turning to drinking hot water instead of tea or coffee. When a girlfriend first asked for a cup of hot water, I thought this very strange, but in fact hot water can taste really nice and is a great way to lift water intake in cold weather. Constant sipping of water is also a great idea rather than feel you have to down a whole glass of water in one shot.

Experts say that when you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated, so this is another reason to keep drinking throughout the day rather than waiting until you feel you need a drink.

It seems you can confuse feeling thirsty with feeling hungry, so having a drink before you try food can often be the solution your body is looking for. Interestingly, if you are dehydrated, fat cells take longer to break down, so if you are on a diet, drinking adequate levels of water is key.

Headaches can be a symptom of dehydration, and water is also very good to help clear your skin and wash toxins out of your body.

However, as with so many things, there is a downside. You can drink too much water. Continuously sipping copious amounts of water can lead to problems such as hyponatraemia or water intoxication. As the water content of the blood increases, the salt content is diluted which means less essential salt is available to body tissues and this can lead to a range of problems.

But for most of us, it is a lack of water that is our main problem. And when pure fresh drinking water is so readily available, there is no excuse for anyone not to keep up a daily intake.

If in any doubt about any of the information covered in health related articles and it's relevance for you, consult your GP.

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