There’s no getting away from it, water is life. Your body is about 60% water so it makes sense that you need to keep it topped up. But aside from just filling up your cells, water has a really important part to play in so many different aspects of your life. Let’s have a look at a few.
You hear a lot about detoxes and to be blunt, they’re pretty pointless. You have organs in your body whose only job is to detox your body (your liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, and skin – who was surprised by skin?) and they’re really pretty good at it. Ok, so there are herbal remedies you can take which are said to improve their function, but they don’t actually perform the process of detoxification themselves. That’s what your organs do. (Did I already say that?).Water helps your kidneys to work. The kidneys are basically the body’s sieve, separating the toxins and waste from the essential nutrients and electrolytes your body needs to function. When you don’t drink enough water, your kidneys have to retain fluid in order to function, and that can lead to dehydration and infection.
Maintains body temperature
Water can regulate the body’s internal temperature in response to the external temperature. It does this by sweating. As sweat evaporates, it helps to cool our skin. It’s a bit like condensation on a window.
Helps muscle function
As well as lubricating your joints, water also helps prevent cramping by providing oxygen to muscle tissues. This allows the muscles to work harder and for longer, and aids muscle building and repair.
The water you drink passes through your digestive system and helps keep everything moving smoothly. Don’t drink enough water and you’re risking constipation, which has a lot of implications on your health.
While drinking water does feed cells, it’s main function is to flush toxins through the system. By getting rid of toxins we can avoid a lot of skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, as well as reducing the severity of acne. Dehydration will often show on the skin first.
So there you go. Those are just the things listed on the graphic. What I’d like you to do now is head for Google and find out some of the other things that water can do for you and list them in the comments. Let’s see how many we can find.
How much water do I need?
Let’s have a look at how much water you need. I’ve seen quite a few different ideas on this, with the most common being that you should drink 2 litres per day. That sounds like quite a lot, and it also sounds like everyone needs the same amount. This is not the case. After all, you wouldn’t give a 5 year old the same amount of water to drink in a day as an 18 stone adult rugby player.
There are lots of complicated ways to work it out but I prefer the simple approach. Here’s how to do it.
Take your weight in pounds
Divide it by 2
That’s the number of fluid ounces you need in a day
If you’re working in metric, divide your weight in kilos by 30 to get the equivalent number of litres.
So as an example, say you weigh 12 stone. That’s 164lbs or 74.4kg. Therefore the amount you would need to drink would be either 82 fl oz or 2.48 litres.
Now comes the tricky bit, because that’s just a baseline, assuming that you’re just going about your everyday activities. A number of things can affect the amount of water you might need. For instance, you’ll need more if you exercise, if it’s a hot day, if you have a cold, and so on. The good news is that it’s pretty hard to over-do it to such an exent that it affects your health. Your kidneys can take about a litre of water per hour, 24 hours a day before they start to complain. Even in the Sahara you wouldn’t need to drink that much to stay hydrated.
You might think that getting that much water down you every day is going to be difficult, especially if you don’t usually drink that much. But there are a few tricks to help you. Things like
- have a glass of water about 15 minutes before a meal. It gives you a comfortable feeling that helps you not to over-indulge. Research has found that drinking water before a meal actually helps you make better choices and aids weight loss
- grab a glass of water every time you’re in the kitchen or passing a water cooler. It’s amazing how they mount up
- have multiple water bottles filled and ready to go for the day. I have three. I keep two at room temperature (one plain and one with fruit infused in it), and one in a thermal bottle so that it stays chilled. That gives me variety throughout the day and means it doesn’t get boring
- try to get the majority of your water down before about 4pm. Sleep is another hugely important part of health, and the last thing you need it to be up during the night!
Those are just a few ideas, and there are more in the picture below. What I’d like you to do now is have a hunt round Google and find out all the things that water does for you that haven’t already been discussed here, calculate how much water you need in a day, and work out how you’re going to get your water in during the day. Tomorrow, we’re going to talk about nutrition.