The Benefits Of Drinking Enough Water
It’s easy to drink water when the weather’s hot, but most of us aren’t as good at staying adequately hydrated when it’s cooler. Yet our bodies need a certain amount of water every day to function properly – regardless of how hot or cold it is outside. Although we do need to drink more when it’s hot to replace water lost through sweat, there’s a basic minimum we must strive for everyday.
How Much Water Is Enough?
We’ve all read or heard that we should try to drink eight glasses of water every day. This is not a bad starting point, but we need to break it down more accurately. How many millilitres, for example, are in a glass? Are we talking about a big glass or a small tumbler? And does a 60kg woman need as much water as a 110kg man?
The best way to work out how much water you should be drinking every day is to go by your body weight. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 250mls of water for every 10kgs you weigh. So a person weighing 80kgs should be drinking two litres of water a day, while a 50kg person only needs 1.25 litres.
These figures are a good guideline, but individual needs will vary depending on factors such as your age, level of activity, and overall state of health. A good way to tell if you are adequately hydrated is to look at the colour of your urine. It should be colourless or a pale yellow. If it’s dark yellow or amber, you could well be dehydrated.
It’s important to spread out your water consumption through the day. Your body can only absorb a certain amount at a time, so if you drink too much in one go, it will just go straight to your bladder.
Why Is Water So Good For Us?
Our bodies are made up of 60 percent water. All our cells and organs need water to function properly. When we drink enough water, it helps our bodies maintain a fluid balance, which in turn helps regulate our body temperature, lubricate our joints, digest food, create saliva and transport nutrients.
Water also helps transport waste out of our bodies, which is why it’s so vital for our kidneys. Good hydration dilutes the concentration of minerals in our urine, which significantly reduces the likelihood of kidney stones. Drinking plenty of water is also one of the best ways to reduce the risk of developing a urinary tract infection, as it dilutes your urine and flushes bacteria out of your tract before an infection can start.
Water is also amazingly good for our brains! Even mild dehydration can reduce our attention span and concentration, and affect our mood and memory.
Water isn’t just good for our insides, it has great benefits for our outsides too! Drinking the recommended amount of water every day can help with weight loss and maintenance, as it makes us feel fuller, so we consumer fewer calories. It’s also great for our skin - skin that isn’t properly hydrated becomes dry, tight and flaky. Dry skin is less resilient and more prone to wrinkling. Drinking enough water promotes skin circulation at its base, so skin repair continues even as we age.
What Happens If I Drink Too Much Water?
Yes, you can have too much of a good thing. Drinking too much water can dilute the electrolytes – specifically sodium - in your blood. Sodium helps to balance fluids between the inside and outside of your cells. If your sodium levels fall below 135mmol/litre, you will develop a condition known as hyponatremia, or water intoxication. This causes fluids to shift from the outside to the inside of your cells, making them swell. This can be dangerous and potentially even life threatening.
Water intoxication can cause brain cells to swell, increasing the pressure inside your skull. Early symptoms include vomiting, nausea and headaches. Severe water intoxication can cause far more serious symptoms, such as increased blood pressure, muscle weakness and cramping and double vision. In the worst-case scenario, it can cause brain seizures, coma and even death.
Dr Alain Sanua is a qualified Medical Doctor currently practicing Integrated Medicine. One of his many areas of expertise is nutritional advice, and he is passionate believer in the importance of creating harmony with our digestive systems. For advice on this or any other concern you may have, please contact him today.