Did you know your body is made of around 60% water? That water's key roles include carrying oxygen to your cells, regulating your blood pressure and body temperature, helping to eliminate wastes and toxins, and dissolving nutrients and transporting them throughout your body. Pretty amazing, huh!
Water also helps dissolve and flush uric acid, which can build up around your joints and cause pain and discomfort. It helps flush your gall bladder and bile ducts in your liver, keeping bile flowing so that it can break down fats you eat. Water also helps make digestive secretions that break down your food so you can absorb nutrients.
Knowing this, it's perhaps not surprising that dehydration can affect us in a multitude of ways. Dehydration can hamper your liver's detoxification processes and digestive function. It creates extra demand on your heart by decreasing blood volume and causing your heart to beat faster. Indeed, if you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure, one of the first things I recommend is you start drinking more water every day (and fewer diuretic drinks such as coffee, tea and alcoholic drinks).
And if you suffer from headaches, be aware that dehydration can play a role. Expecting a baby? Dehydration can also make you more susceptible to overheating when pregnant.
So how much water do you need to drink?
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 70kg, for example, you need to be drinking a minimum of 2L of water each day.
There are times your body requires more water than normal, such as...
Signs of dehydration
Peeing three times or less a day
Urine that matches 4 or 5 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
Sunken appearance around the eyes
Excessive tiredness or crankiness 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 mug of herbal tea or warm water with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
*Keep an attractive glass jug of water in your kitchen or living room.
*Take a water bottle 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 reduce your exposure to toxins and xenoestrogens found in plastics.
*Always water down fruit juices for children.
*Swap coffee and black tea for herbal teas. Peppermint, licorice, chamomile, ginger and berry teas are some popular choices.
*Home-made soups and broths are hydrating and can be carried in a stainless steel flask.
*About 10% of our water intake comes from our food. Aim to eat one piece of fruit and three different coloured veg every day.
*Set a reminder on your phone to remind you to drink water. Use an app to track your daily water consumption.
*Drink one large glass of water for every diuretic coffee, black tea or alcoholic drink you consume, to replace the fluid lost.
Finally, consider investing in a water filter. Possible contaminants in our tap water include chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals, pesticides and plastics. 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.
Aim to have pee that consistently matches 1, 2 or 3!