“Water is the driving force of all nature.”
So said Leonardo da Vinci, and he was absolutely right!
We all know that we need to drink ‘plenty’ of water… but how much is plenty?
As a very very general rule, men need to drink around 2.6 liters of water a day, which is about 10 glasses, and women need to drink around 2.1 liters of water a day, which is around 8 glasses.
But then, if you’ve had a tummy bug, or been in the heat, or been doing physical work or exercise, or you’re pregnant, or you’re breastfeeding, or your body mass is above the average… you’ll need to increase your water intake.
Is that helpful?
Well, here’s another conundrum. What about tea, coffee or alcohol? You don’t need to take this as permission to go crazy on the cappuccinos, but both tea and coffee are more hydrating than dehydrating, so they still leave you with more fluid in your body if you drink them compared to if you don’t.
Alcohol though, is a dehydrator. My husband won’t believe this, but a beer on a hot summer’s day isn’t really quenching your thirst. If you have an alcoholic drink, aim to have a glass of water in between each glass of alcohol.
You can even eat your water intake! Fruit is amazing for hydrating your body due to its high water content. Even veggies are good for getting small amounts of much needed fluids into your system. Eating your water intake is a favourite of mine as you’re also absorbing valuable nutrients.
So if all we have is general rules about how much we need to drink, individually dependent on our health, body mass and lifestyle, then how do we actually know how much we need to be drinking (and eating) to keep ourselves hydrated?
For one, we should feel thirsty. Take some notice of your body and ask yourself if your mouth feels dry, or if you’re feeling cranky, moody or headachy. These can be symptoms of dehydration. Honest! In severe cases you might also feel confused, light headed, sleepy and have a rapid heartbeat and breathing.
The best indicator, is of course, your wee.
Kidneys are amazing. They regulate the amount of fluid in your body, excreting what isn’t needed. What you should find is that you need to wee every two to four hours and that your wee is light in colour. Keep in mind that some supplements (such as Vitamin B) will change the colour of your wee such a fluro version of yellow that you’ll be staring in your loo with amazement!
You also need to listen to your body so that you know when you’ve had enough water. More isn’t always better and if you over consume water (we’re talking about going water crazy here) then you’ll flush much needed nutrients and minerals out of your body with dire consequences.
Water is the primary building block of all cells, making up 55% of an adult female body and 60% of an adult male body. It regulates our body temperature, flushes waste and toxins from our body and carries oxygen and nutrients to cells. It’s that important!
As WH Auden said, ‘Thousands have lived without love, but not one without water.’ So go and pour yourself a nice big glass of water… or eight.