Let’s start with one important statistical fact. Your body composition is 60% water! Just to put this into perspective the average 75kg person is made up of 45 litres of water.
Water is by far the body’s most important nutrient, drinking water is critically important for our existence. Water loss of as little as 1-2% of body weight can impair mental and physical function, the loss effects your immediate memory skills and your ability to make subjective assessments. Lose 7% and you will experience disrupted physiology resulting in total body collapse. Dehydration of a muscle by just 3% can result in a 10% loss of contractile strength and an 8% loss of speed, which would probably explain why you see athletes casually walking around with large water bottles. (1,2,3)
Your body sends you thirst signals when it feels dehydrated, in fact if you’re thirsty you’re already dehydrated. Most people function in a constant state of low-grade dehydration, with the majority of their fluid intake comprising of dehydrating drinks, predominantly caffeine and alcohol. Unfortunately drinks like caffeine and alcohol cause a greater loss of water than the amount that they replace. (4,5)
Another key indicator of dehydration is the colour of your urine. Urine is a sensitive indicator of body fluid balance; with dark yellow, foul smelling urine indicating sever dehydration. Your urine should be almost clear without any odour. (6)
Why you should drink more water
Water increases brain power and provides energy.
Your body might be 60% water but your brain is 73% water, drinking it helps you think, focus, concentrate and stay alert, as a result your energy levels also improve. Dehydration affects your mood, reduces your cognitive and motor skills, makes you more sensitive to pain and affects your memory. (7,8,9,10)
Water promotes healthy weight management and weight loss
Drinking a glass of water half an hour before a meal acts as an appetite suppressant helping you feel full faster. (11) Have you ever thought “I’m hungry” then walked to the fridge but been unable to decide what it is that you actually want to eat? Chances are you’re actually thirsty. So, next time you find yourself blankly staring into the fridge, grab a glass of water instead. Drinking half a litre of water has been shown to increase metabolism by 24-30% for up to 1.5hrs (12)
Water helps you flush out toxins
Your body uses your lungs, liver and kidneys to flush toxins from your body. In order to flush the toxins from your body it requires adequate levels of water which helps to release the stored toxins from your cells and excrete them from your body.
Water prevents headaches
Besides feeling thirsty headaches are another common symptom of dehydration. Dehydration headaches occur when your body loses essential fluids which allow it to function optimally. Dehydration causes your brain to temporarily shrink from fluid loss, which causes the brain to pull away from the skull triggering pain resulting in a dehydration headache. (13,14,15)
Adequate levels of body water also help to prevent cramps and sprains; regulate your body temperature; prevent back ache and improve heart health. Are you convinced yet?
Up for a challenge?
I too often hear complaints that drinking water is boring or it’s something not easily remembered, some have tried to convince me that drinking water will make them rust from the inside, got to love an old mariner!
So, I challenge you to play the water game. It’s simple it’s easy and it will have you drinking much more water.
To play you will need a 1.5 litre bottle and a glass or flask.
At the beginning of the day fill your 1.5 litre bottle with water – ideally filtered – place it on your desk alongside your glass and get to the bottom of it be the end of the day.
Once you reach the bottom of the bottle refill and aim to get to the bottom again before the day is over.
You are allowed to flavour your water with fresh lime, lemon and orange slices as well as berries, cucumber and mint or a combination of the above.
The more competitive amongst you can get your friends and families involved, because at the end of the day who doesn’t love a bit of healthy competition!
Drinking adequate amounts of water is critical to achieving optimum nutrition. Everyone should aim to consume at least 2 litres of filtered water over the course of the day. If it’s hot, or you are exercising then you will need to drink more to compensate for the additional water loss.