If there’s one question I ask clients repeatedly, it’s “how much water have you drunk today?” Some days I feel like a broken record. But seriously, the body is 60-70% water, making hydration vital for optimum health and wellbeing!
How much water should you drink? Keep reading to find out.
Water, the ultimate health tonic
You can go weeks, months even, without food. But, deprived of water, you might only last three or four days, especially when the mercury soars. H2O is not a luxury, it’s a necessity for survival.
Water is a key component of all bodily fluids – saliva, bile, blood, urine, semen, sweat, tears, mucus – and helps your organs function effectively and efficiently. From the tips of your toes to the crown of your head, water:
- helps transports nutrients and oxygen to every cell
- lubricates your joints and cushions your organs
- is a key component of healthy tissue
- carries waste products out of the body through urine and sweat
- aids digestion.
Without water, the human body slows down and, eventually, grinds to a halt.
Rethink your drink!
When it comes to hydration, water is your best choice. “But water is boring”, I hear you cry!
Other drinks – tea, coffee, juice, smoothies, soft drinks – contribute to your recommended daily allowance but be mindful of caffeine and sugar. There are a whopping 64 grams of sugar in a 600ml bottle of Coke; that’s 16 teaspoons! Sports drinks aren’t much better, with 34g sugar in a 600ml bottle of Powerade. Equally, tread carefully when it comes to fruit juices and smoothies. For the most part, stick to water, unsweetened coconut water and herbal tea.
You can also hydrate from the inside out with these fruits and vegetables: berries, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, citrus fruit, cucumber, green capsicum, leafy greens, melons of all shapes and sizes.
How much water is ideal?
We’ve been bombarded with advice to drink eight glasses every day but, as it turns out, there is no magic number. How much YOU need to drink will depend on your body composition, activity levels and where you are.
Muscle cells are made up of 70-75% water, whereas fat cells are only 10-15%. So, if you’re muscley, you’ll need to drink more to stay hydrated. On the flipside, if you’re looking to reduce body fat, drinking more water will rev up your metabolism.
As for activity levels and location, let common sense dictate your drinking: if it’s hot or you’re active, increase your intake.
Calculate how much water you need using the Hydration for Health Initiative Hydration Calculator.
My advice is to buy a reusable, insulated bottle. Carry it with you wherever you go so you’re never caught out. It’s more convenient than a glass of water and better for the environment than toxic plastic. Plus, it’s easy to keep track of how much you’ve consumed during the day.
Hydration for sport and exercise
When you exercise, your muscles produce heat and you sweat to help regulate body temperature. How much you sweat will depend on the type of activity and intensity. For example, a man playing competitive tennis in warm weather produces approximately 1.6 litres of sweat in one hour. Training or competing in cross-country running for the equivalent time produces 1.8 litres and swimming 0.4 litres. As a general rule, women sweat slightly less.
If fluid lost during exercise isn’t replaced, your body becomes dehydrated. The first sign of dehydration is thirst. Other signs include headaches, fatigue, nausea, chills, increased heart rate, inability to sweat and lightheadedness. You can also tell if you’re dehydrated by looking at your urine. If it’s pale yellow or clear, you’re drinking enough; if the colour is dark yellow and odorous, start drinking!
Dehydration can be fatal so, don’t wait for your pee to change colour, drink up and keep it clear. Keep yourself hydrated while exercising with this all natural electrolyte drink.
DIY Natural Sports Drink
Coconut water is a natural isotonic drink that rapidly quenches thirst and replenishes electrolytes. Coconut water contains many of the same nutrients as commercial sports drinks – calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium – but in their natural form, making it better for you than a bottle of Powerade (and cheaper too).
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups coconut water
2 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
1/8 tsp Himalayan pink salt or sea salt
Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend well. Store in reusable glass bottles or jars.