How Much Water Should You Be Drinking?
Water is an essential nutrient required every day to:
- Get rid of waste through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements.
- To regulate your body temperature.
- Aid digestion.
- Lubricate joints, and protect sensitive tissues.
- Moisten mucous membranes (nose, lungs, and mouth).
- Carry nutrients and oxygen to cells.
Being properly hydrated is also important if you are taking medication. Some medications act as a diuretic (meaning they act to remove water from the body). Always check with your doctor to see if the medications you are taking may affect your hydration.
Drinking water is hard especially during winter; sometimes you just need a little extra comfort and let’s face it, water can be cold and tasteless.
The good news is that there are many ways to increase fluid intake rather than just drinking plain water. Beverages such as milk, juice, soup, and herbal teas are all great alternatives within a balanced diet. Even eating vegetables and caffeinated drinks such as coffee can contribute to your daily water intake. Mineral water contains salt, which can lead to fluid retention and swelling. As an alternative choose a low sodium variety (less than 30mg of sodium per 100ml) or try one of the home soda makers currently on the market.
Freshwater is obviously the best choice as it contains zero calories.
Tips to help increase water intake include:
- Add a squeeze of lemon or lime, mint, or slices of strawberries.
- Always have a glass of water with each meal.
- Drink a glass of water after you brush your teeth.
- Keep a glass of water on your desk or next to your lounge chair.
- Freeze fresh juice into ice cubes and add them to your water.
If you prefer something warm, go explore the herbal tea range at your local supermarket; there is a vast array of flavours now available. Hot water and lemon with a dash of honey is another great homemade choice.
How do you know when you are dehydrated?
Feeling fatigued and thirsty are both early signs that you may already be dehydrated. Other signs include:
- Dark urine
- Bad breath
- Muscle cramps
- Dry skin
- Low blood pressure
- Cracked lips
- Dry nasal passages
- Mood swings
There are many factors that contribute to how much water you actually need each day including your weight, height, activity level, age, stress levels, where you live, and the medications you take.
As a general rule, most of us should be looking at consuming around 6-8 glasses of water per day; it is easy to remember, a reasonable goal, and can be adjusted accordingly to how you feel and any signs of dehydration.