Now that spring is approaching in the southern hemisphere, and temperatures are rising, it’s important to look at the need for water in our diet. None of us can exist without water. Our bodies use water in cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate temperature and maintain other bodily functions.
Without water, we are likely to die within 3 to 10 days. Our bodies are mostly water. Water flushes out waste, regulates body temperature, and is essential for healthy brain function.
Tips to manage and increase your water intake
- Carry a water bottle with you. This is by far the easiest way to increase water intake. Fill it when it’s empty, this will help you to accurately track how much water you are consuming.
- Freeze the water in hot weather and have refreshing cool water to enjoy.
- Avoid sugary drinks. Concentrates which you add to water are merely adding calories and have no real value.
- Add a slice of lemon or some sliced strawberries for added flavour.
- Have water with your meals instead of fizzy drinks, it’s healthier and cheaper.
Ways to vary your water intake
- Drink green tea, or other herbal teas such as Rooibos.
- Bottled sparkling water is great but be aware of the environmental impact of bottles.
- Juicy fruits such as oranges and grapes add fluid and are healthy for you.
Drinks to avoid
- Bottled or canned fizzy drinks, fruit juice, sports drinks, and energy drinks may look cool, but they merely push up your calory count.
- Alcohol is another source of concentrated calories, so drink in moderation.
- Sugar-free or diet drinks contain sucralose, aspartame, or saccharine.
- Sports drinks are flavoured beverages that contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes, and sometimes vitamins. Unless you are training for a sports event, stick to water.
Our desire to consume colourful, sugary drinks is formed by our exposure to advertisements of these products. They are sold to us on the premise that they are tasty, thirst-quenching, or aspirational. We need to retrain our minds to appreciate that good old tap water is healthy, enjoyable, and cost-saving.
Ways water is essential for our existence
1. Water regulates your body temperature
Our bodies lose water by sweating during physical activity and on hot days. An adequate supply of water will keep you hydrated and maintain your body temperature.
2. Water protects your tissues, spinal cord, and joints
Water lubricates and cushions joints, spinal cord, and tissues. This is essential for any form of physical activity.
3. Water assists with physical performance
Any sort of physical activity will cause you to sweat; a walk in the park, gardening, or a session in the gym. Drinking plenty of water during physical activity is essential and avoid dehydration.
4. Water assists the absorption of nutrients
Water helps our bodies break down the food we eat more easily. We digest food more effectively and get the most out of our meals. Water also helps dissolve vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from your food. It then delivers these vitamin components to the rest of your body
5. Water helps excrete waste
Our bodies lose water when we sweat, urinate, and have bowel movements. Sweating regulates body temperature, so we need water to replenish the lost fluid from sweat. Water helps to prevent constipation. Our kidneys filter waste through urination. Adequate water intake helps the kidneys work more efficiently and prevent kidney stones.
6. Water helps you lose weight
Studies have linked body fat and weight loss with drinking water. Drinking more water while dieting and exercising may just help you lose extra pounds.
7. Water aids in cognitive function
If you do not have enough water, it can negatively impact your focus, alertness, and short-term memory.
8. Water is good for your skin
Water keeps your skin hydrated and may promote collagen production. Staying out of the sun is good for your skin too.
Dehydration is the result of your body not having enough water. And because water is imperative to so many bodily functions, dehydration can be very dangerous.
Severe dehydration can result in some severe complications, including
- Swelling in your brain
- Kidney failure
Make sure you drink enough water to make up for the loss through sweat, urination, and bowel movements to avoid dehydration.
How much should we drink?
Drink when you are thirsty. Drink more on warm days or while exercising. Keep that bottle of water handy. Health experts recommend eight glasses, about 2 litres, a day. Sip on water constantly throughout the day, rather than gulp down big quantities at one time.
Other ways to assess hydration include your thirst and the colour of your urine. When you feel thirsty, your body is not receiving adequate hydration. Dark urine indicates dehydration. Pale or non-coloured urine typically indicates proper hydration.
The bottom line
Water is important for every part of your body. Regular water intake will help you maintain your current state of being, and it may even improve your overall health.