How much water should you be drinking a day? Experts agree you should be taking on at least 2 litres of fluid per day (both in food, and in drink), but what type of fluid is best, and why?
How much water do you drink a day?
Do you drink only when you're thirsty?
The more you find out about it, the more you'll realise that water is absolutely amazing. It covers more than two thirds of the world's surface, and makes up about 55-60% of your own body mass.
As complementary therapists, we consistently find the clients we meet are dehydrated. This often has the knock-on effect of back pain, muscle fatigue, poor concentration, dust allergies, headaches and migraines, colds, 'flus, poor digestion, apparent hunger and general ill-health.
With the simple improvement of just increasing your intake of water each day, you can have quite amazing positive effects to your health! You'll look good too as it's great for the skin!
How much water?
So how much water should a person drink? Well although the recommended amount is 4-6 glasses per day (around 2 litres in an ideal environment, although most working environments are far from ideal). You may be surprised to know that typically you will breathe out around a litre of water in your breath each day, and can use up to 2 litres of water per hour in vigorous exercise! Studying hard, using a computer, physical activity, heat, or sitting in a stuffy or air conditioned office can all burn up increased amounts of water in your body which needs to be replenished.
Drinks like tea and coffee actually are actually diuretic in effect and cause the body to lose water (so try and swap your hot drink for decafinated equivalents, or just have a 'water break' instead of a coffee break). When you think that bottled water now costs more per litre than fuel, you may get some idea not only how fashionable it is, but how important it is to drink more water.
Although tap water in the UK is recognised as ‘safe to drink', thousands of people have invested in water filters (both free-standing and plumbed in) to improve the taste and remove added chemicals from the main supply. Some of these chemicals are added for their anti-bacterial properties and can be harmful to your body's own natural defensive bacteria.
It's generally best to drink water between meals, at least 20 minutes prior to eating, and at least 40 minutes after eating. Drinking more than a glass of wine or two glasses of water while eating, can dilute your digestive juices and may prevent proper digestion from taking place. Improperly digested food can then be a contributory cause of food sensitivities or allergies.
How I can I make it easier?
We find that having a refillable one or two litre mineral water bottle on the desk at all times, ensures that we have enough water to hand (not normally any reason to buy a new one each da, just refill the old one). One of those 20 litre mineral water bottle dispensers and coolers in many offices, should theoretically be replaced each day, if just 10 people drank enough water! Having plumbed in filters can be more economical to an office environment.
Keeping the water cool can help to improve the ‘taste', so keeping a spare bottle in the fridge can be a good idea. Some people also find the water tastes better if you place it on a (covered) glass jug on a bright windowsill, to catch the morning sunlight a few hours before drinking (I actually just place my water filter jug on the windowsill for the same reason).
You can buy new bottled mineral water each time if you want, but if you can't tell the difference (and many people can't), filtering your own and refilling the same bottle while at work or home is just as good an idea. Just make sure you wash the bottle well regularly (especially if you leave it on the windowsill most of the time).
Try to ensure that every time you see the bottle on your desk, you take a good swig, (ie every five minutes or so). In the first few days you'll probably notice needing to go to the bathroom far more often, but this is just your body trying to utilise the clean water to flush through your system while it has the chance! It will normally settle down after a few days, although if you do find the water ‘just goes straight through you' (ie needing to go to the bathroom immediately after drinking repeatedly), you may be short of mineral salts in your body. Going to the bathroom 5 or so times a day when you're drinking enough is quite normal though (and if you work at a computer screen all day, it's a good chance to rest your eyes and body from the strain).
For all those of you reading this who would also like to reduce their weight (as thankfully many diet groups are now recommending): try taking a good glass of good water every time you get a craving for sugary food, instead of reaching for the baked goods and chocolates. You could be amazed at the difference.
What if I have any other questions?
If you have any concerns about your hydration, or your passing of fluids which may seem too regular, do contact your GP or healthcare professional for advice.