Water is by far the best thirst-quencher for our body, compared to sugar-laden soft drinks and pasteurized juices. Making sure you are sufficiently hydrated is one of the best ways to preserve and improve health.
Water is a basic nutrient that is critical for the human body. It supports the digestion of food, distribution of nutrients, and elimination of toxins and wastes from the body.
Water is the most abundant substance in our bodies – about two-thirds of the body is water. The brain is about 85 percent water, muscles are 75 percent, and bone is 22 percent.
Water helps to alkalise the body. The body requires a slightly alkaline internal environment to function at its best. But most modern diets that consist of junk food can acidify the body, resulting in health problems and diseases. One way to restore an optimum pH balance is through drinking an adequate amount of water.
Are You Drinking Enough?
Apart from feeling thirsty, there are many ways the body tells you that you need to take in more water. Some common signs of dehydration are:
- Headaches or dizziness
- Lack of energy / fatigue
- Dry skin and cracked lips
- Loss of concentration
- Dark, strong-smelling urine
When the body does not receive enough liquids to meet its needs, it can suffer from chronic dehydration. Chronic dehydration is when the lack of fluid is not substantial enough to cause death or serious illness, but it is still enough to create serious health problems.
The long-term consequences of not drinking enough water include the increased risk of kidney stones, high blood pressure, digestive problems, certain cancers, depression and cognitive decline.
How Much water Do You Need?
The amount of water our body needs varies from person to person, depending on age, diet and lifestyle.
On average, you should aim for about eight glasses of water-based liquid a day. We get about 19 percent of our requirement from the food we eat, with fresh fruit and vegetables containing the most. So the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the more water you take in.
On the other hand, concentrated foods with a high sugar or protein content increase the need for water to dilute the excess sugars or break down the products for absorption into the bloodstream.
Various factors can increase the body’s need for water; eating foods that are too salty, rich or concentrated, and overeating in general, as this requires more water to dilute the toxins these foods bring into the body. The body eliminates about 2.5 litres of water daily through urine, sweat, the lungs, and in the stools.
Research has found that the body retains much more water if you drink little and often, rather than having it all in one go. Also, if water is drunk with sugar, which is often the case in sugary drinks, the water is less well retained by the body.
Tips to Drink More Water
- Start the day by drinking a glass of fresh water when you get up in the morning;
- Drink herbal teas or hot water with fresh mint, lemon or ginger;
- If you are not used to drinking water regularly, replace one of your other drinks each day with fresh water, increasing consumption as the weeks go on;
- Keep a check on your urine. It should be plentiful, pale in color and odorless.