Updated: Jul 29
I am feeling thirsty, I have been up 2 hours and have been thirsty since I awoke. If my stomach was rumbling I would be down at the fridge in an instant trying to prevent the onset of any "hangry". It takes even less time to get a glass of water than it would to prep a snack. The one thing I struggle to practice what I preach is hydration. In fact within the UK we all seem to struggle with it. The NHS recommends drinking 1.2 litres of water a day. They themselves acknowledge this isn't for optimum health benefits but it is more the minimum requirement. The UK government has the tendency of being pragmatic and believes we are an unhealthy bunch so will say it is setting a realistic target as opposed to a target that would achieve the most health benefits. Within the UK they also count most none sugary and none alcoholic drinks. I would argue to not count coffee or tea as it is a diuretic meaning that it encourages you to urinate more, making you lose fluid.
1.2 litres is really the minimum if we are not moving or sweating, sitting in a cool room. IN the US they recommend 1.8 litres, in Europe 1.6 litres with an additional 400ml gained from food.here is evidence that you can use your body weight to determine how much to drink. e.g. for every pound you weigh you need 0.5 fluid ounces. Given the mixed messages and that the research does not have a consensus I would suggest spend a week achieving 1.8 litres (increasing it slight if you are doing intense exercises or it is a hot day. And then evaluate what feels right for you.
There are risks associated with drinking too much water and it is recommended to drink less than one litre an hour.
You can tell if you dehydrated from the following;
1) If you are thirsty. It is often stated that thirst occurs when you have already lost 1-2% of your body's water. Within the scientific literature the evidence suggest the sensation of thirst is to encourage you to seek out water and whilst you may not already be dehydrated it is giving you an early warning sign to hydrate.
2) If your urination is not clear. The darker and more yellow it is the more dehydrated you are.
3) If you are urinating less than 4 times a day,
4) If you are experiencing dry mouth, lips and eyes
5) If you feels fatigued or fuzzy headed. Dehydration impairs our cognition and energy level.
Water is used by our body for a multitude of purposes. All cellular processes require it. We transport nutrients and gasses around the blood stream with it. It protects our organs, it provides joint lubrication reducing wear and tear. It enables consistent body temperature. We use it to convert protein into energy to support endurance tasks.
If you fall into the trap of not drinking enough water you can do something about it. Go take a sip of water now and make a commitment to yourself that you would like to keep your body hydrated.
Here are my tips:
Write down or use an app to monitor how much fluid you are drinking to monitor your intake. Even the process of writing this blog has drawn my attention to my first and I have drunk 400ml of water.
Buy a large water bottle and make a commitment that you will drink 200 ml from it every hour from it.
Drink a glass of water before any snack or meal.
Listen to your body and start responding to thirst the same you respond to hunger by acting on the message.
Make water enjoyable, experiment with adding herbs or fruits to flavour it: my favourites include basil, mint, cucumber, strawberry.
Cut down on alcohol, tea and coffee.
Read more blogs by Sarah here.