Why Is Hydration So Important?
We all know that drinking water is important for our general health and wellbeing, but do we know why? The media and various health sources quote how many glasses of water we should be aiming to drink a day, but what exactly does water do in the body and what are the consequences of not drinking enough water?
Our latest article answers these questions and gives you an idea of how much water you should be aiming to drink on a daily basis.
The Human Body and Water
The average adult human body is 50-65% water and every cell, tissue and organ in your body require water in order to function at its best. Water is used to maintain the body's temperature, remove waste and keep joints loose and mobile, so in essence, water is pretty essential to our everyday lives!
The vast majority of people do not consume enough water daily however, which means the water we lose through sweating, going to the toilet, and even breathing, is not being replaced; this is what leads to dehydration.
Symptoms of Dehydration
Dehydration can range from a mild thirst to more serious conditions such as dizziness and headaches. Here are a few symptoms of dehydration:
- Dry mouth
- Dark urine
- Sleepiness/lack of energy
- Extreme thirst
If you feel you may be getting dehydrated, it's important not to wait until symptoms appear and try to keep well hydrated throughout the day, especially if it's hot. If you feel the symptoms of dehydration coming on, take action and drink plenty of water to boost your hydration levels and stay healthy and active.
Why Does Dehydration Occur?
Dehydration is a sign that your body, organs, cells and tissues need more water to function properly. When the weather is hot, we lose more water via sweating so it's very important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids particularly during the summer months.
Exercise can also lead to dehydration as we sweat more when exercising and lose electrolytes used to keep the body functioning.
As we get older, we may also be at a higher risk of dehydration as the brain may not be able to sense dehydration signs as easily. Certain medical conditions such as kidney stones and infections can also increase our risk of dehydration, as can being pregnant and having a fever.
Drinking little amounts but often is a simple way to decrease the risk of dehyration.
How Much Water Should We Drink?
Current recommended daily water limits vary, but many people aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day which is a reasonable goal for most people. As with everything however, different people need different amounts of water and an athlete exercising in the heat will need far more water to stay hydrated than say an inactive person in the winter.
Most people can stay well hydrated by simply drinking when they are thirsty, but others, such as elite athletes may need to drink more to keep up with the water they are losing through exercise on a daily basis.
Checking your urine can be a good indicator of hydration levels and if your urine is colourless or light yellow, you know that your body is well-hydrated. If your urine is dark yellow or amber coloured however, it may be time to drink a bit more water as this can be a sign of dehydration.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
Drinking water thorughout the day may be something that can slip your mind, particularly if you are busy. Here are a few handy tips for keeping well hydrated throughout the day.
- Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day that can be easily refilled if necessary. Purchasing water constantly can be expensive as well as creating plastic bottle waste, so invest in a reusable bottle and fill from the tap.
- If you aren't a fan of plain old tap water try spicing it up with some fruits such as lemon or strawberries to give a bit of flavour.
- Always drink water before, during and after exercise
- Feeling hungry? Drink water. Thirst can often be confused with hunger so drinking plenty of water can also be beneficial for those looking to lose a little weight.