Your body needs water like your heart needs love. Every day, without fail, you’ve got to prioritise it and keep your quota topped up!
There are a few hydration myths floating around that aren’t totally correct, like drinking only when you’re thirsty, or that everyone should drink 2L a day, no matter who or what size they are.
According to neuroscientist and Australian medical writer Dr Sarah McKay, "...the amount needed varies, dependent on individual factors including age, diet, climate and levels of physical activity."
"For men aged 19-70 it's actually considerably higher at around 2.6 litres, and women 19-70 is around 2.1L”. Plus if you wait until you are thirsty then you are often already dehydrated," she says.
Looks like it’s time to school up on the science behind proper hydration to help motivate you to keep a water bottle by your side!
Why water is so important: the facts
• The body is made up of about 75% water and the lymph fluids, which transport waste and nutrients around your body, are made from the water you drink.
• Water is used for digestion, detoxifying cells, watering the lungs, lubricating joints, for metabolic outcomes and keeping the body’s acid/alkaline levels balanced, among many other important functions. So you really do need plenty of water every day for your body to function properly.
Drinking up: the benefits
• Being properly hydrated is one of the easiest ways to boost energy levels naturally, keeping your mind sharp and your body ready to move.
• Drinking sufficient water makes you look younger! Chronic dehydration causes premature ageing, making wrinkles and lines appear deeper. It can even lead to skin disorders, as your sweat becomes more concentrated which impairs your skin’s ability to flush out toxins.
• Your workouts will feel better when your body is sufficiently hydrated. Your joints will be more lubricated, your connective tissue becomes more flexible and your muscles are able to perform better.
• You’ll be smarter! Studies prove that drinking enough water each day can improve your cognitive performance by up to 30 percent.
• Losing weight is easier with adequate water intake – it suppresses your appetite, can help you burn stored fat and flush toxins from your system.
• Drinking water combats fatigue, constipation, bladder and kidney problems, joint pain and stiffness, digestive disorders, skin disorders, premature ageing, weight gain, headaches and high blood pressure. It can also help with the symptoms of conditions like asthma, allergies and high cholesterol.
So how much should you be drinking?
• This really depends on your age, body size, genetics, whether you are on medication, the kind of environment you live in, as well as your activity levels.
• Approximately 8 glasses a day is a good general guide and easy to remember, but in line with Dr Sarah McKay’s recent recommendations of 2.6L for the average man and 2.1L for the average woman, plus a little extra if you’re active, it’s a good idea to increase your intake a little. Take note of how it makes your body feel, as well as how much more switched on your mind may become as a result.
• Need a little help on where to get started? Try adding your details into this calculator as a starting point.
• If you eat a lot of fresh food and drink herbal tea, that counts towards your total! Fruit and vegetables particularly contain a lot of water.
Easy ways to stay on track
• Create good, consistent drinking habits. Start your day with a big glass of warm water and maybe even a little freshly squeezed lemon juice to kick-start your digestion.
• Get a big bottle (800ml-1L) that’s free of BPA (bisphenol), which is an industrial chemical used to make plastics. Drink 2-3 full bottles each day. Drinking from a big bottle makes your consumption easier to track – I’m sure you’ve got better things to do than count up the single glasses of water you drink each day!
• Keep your bottle on your desk, or somewhere you can see it all the time, so you’re constantly reminded to take a sip.
• Eat clear soups and lots of fresh and steamed veggies, as well as a piece of fruit or two each day (dark skinned is best). All these foods contain lots of water, pus other nutrients essential for radiant skin.
• Instead of black or even green tea, choose an organic herbal tea, such as ginger, mint, rooibos, or any other blend that takes your fancy. Another option is to drink hot water with slices of lemon, fresh ginger and a tiny bit of honey or stevia.
• Make your own lemonade! Squeeze a few fresh lemons or limes into a glass jug, add sparkling filtered water (I use a Sodastream) and a few drops of stevia. YUM!
And if you really don’t need anything extra to think about and need a super easy guide; drink when thirsty, stop when full, sip on a little extra when active… sorted!