The human body is at least 60% water, and water is the main component of all our body fluids (for example, our blood, digestive acid and enzymes, amniotic fluid, lymphatic fluid, tears). So it's not surprising that not drinking enough water - dehydration - pushes our bodies out of balance in so many ways. Dehydration can hamper our liver's detoxification processes and digestive function, creates extra demand on our heart, and adversely affects our mental function, joint health, healing processes, and how we feel while pregnant.
For every kilo of your body weight, you need to drink 30ml of water each day, plus more if exercising or consuming diuretic drinks.
Your weight in kilos x .03 = the amount in litres of water you need to drink each day.
So if you weigh 65kg, for example, you need to be drinking a minimum of 1.95L of water each day.
Dehydration is very common. Many people are not getting adequate daily water for their body size and activity levels, and some people don't drink any water at all. And when you consider that many of us often consume non-hydrating drinks such as juice and sodas, and diuretic drinks that further dehydrate us (coffee, black tea, wine, beer), it's no wonder many of us are literally dried out.
Water is required for every single function necessary to sustain life in the human body.
Its key roles include carrying oxygen to cells, regulating blood pressure and body temperature, helping to eliminate wastes and toxins, and dissolving nutrients and transporting them throughout the body. Water also helps dissolve and flush uric acid and other wastes that can build up around our joints, helps flush our gall bladder and bile ducts in our digestive system, and helps make digestive secretions that break down food so we can absorb the nutrients.
There are times when the body requires more water than normal, such as when we exercise, any time perspiration is increased (think tropical holidays or conditions such as hyperhidrosis), when we have diarrhoea and / or vomiting, and when we are pregnant or breastfeeding. Breast milk contains a lot of water and women who are breastfeeding are advised to drink at least 3.5L of water each day. Interestingly, some women say they feel an urge to drink a glass of water every time they breastfeed their baby.
Signs of dehydration
Peeing three times or less a day
Urine that matches 4 or 5 in colour in the chart below. Urine that matches 6 or 7 means you are severely dehydrated.
Passing hard stools with cracks in the surface or 'rabbit pellet' poo
High blood pressure
Cracks and furrows on the tongue
Dry nail beds and hang nails
Sunken appearance around the eyes
Few tears when crying
Lack of activity or excessive tiredness in children
Feeling unwell in hot weather (weak, dizzy, nauseous, muscle cramps...)
Ways to increase your and your family's water intake
*Start each day with a glass or mug of room temperature water or warm water with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
*Buy attractive, LARGE glasses and mugs. Fill 'em right up!
*Take a water bottle or bottles everywhere you go (the supermarket, cinema, when walking the dog, work, school, a fitness class, when travelling). Sip often. Stainless steel is the best choice for water bottles, to avoid over-exposure to toxins found in plastics.
*Always water down any fruit juices for children.
*Keep an attractive glass jug of water in your front room, and fill it with lemon slices. Humans respond to beauty.
*Swap coffee and black tea for herbal teas. Peppermint, licorice, chamomile, ginger, and berry teas are some popular choices. Pukka is a lovely organic herbal tea brand.
*Home-made soups and bone broths are hydrating and can be carried in a stainless steel flask.
*About 10% of our water intake comes from our food. Eat at least one piece of fruit each morning, a salad with lunch, and three kinds of veg plus a leafy salad with dinner each night.
*Set a reminder on your phone or use an app to remind you to drink water and to track your daily water intake.
*Drink one large glass of water for every coffee, black tea or alcoholic drink you consume, to replace the fluid lost.
And finally, consider investing in some type of water filter. Possible contaminants in our tap water include chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals, pesticides, plastics, nitrates and solvents. Water jugs that come with disposable filters are one of the more affordable options and have the advantage of not demineralizing the water, though the carbon filters they use cannot remove fluoride. PUR and BRITA are two popular brands that can be found online.
Urine colour chart - aim to have pee that consistently matches 1, 2 or 3
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