The single most important nutrient that our bodies need is Water and it is involved in almost every bodily function. With around 60 per cent of our body composed of water it is vital for life. Amazingly we can live for no more than five days without water as opposed to 30–40 days without food. Yet many of us don’t drink enough. Most of us live in a state of mild to moderate dehydration and don’t even realise it.
How Much Water Do You Need?
Although research isn’t clear on the amount of water to drink per day the general recommendation is 2–3 Litres per day or 6–8 glasses. I generally make a more specific recommendation and say drink 1 Litre for every 25kg that you weigh. Keep in mind, however, that if you are engaging in heavy exercise or are sweating heavily then you need to add a extra 1–1.5 Litres for every hour of heavy exercise or heavy sweating. You know that you have drunk enough water throughout the day if your urine is straw-coloured or clear.
What If You Do Not Like Water?
Every now and then I meet patients who do not like drinking water because they find it too bland. This is often the case if someone’s taste buds are used to sweet or caffeinated drinks. Our bodies really only want what they are used to. If you are used to drinking anything but plain water that is what your body will crave. As a personal example I remember a time when I used to drink diet cordial instead of water all day long. I was addicted to the taste and couldn’t stand to drink plain water. When I came to the realisation that all that cordial was not good for my body and that I needed to switch to plain water I had a real mental challenge on my hands. I had to retrain my taste buds to crave plain water – which took me around a month to do. Now I couldn’t imagine drinking anything other than plain water. My tastebuds have adjusted. So what I say to individuals who are in the same situation is to keep at it. Continue drinking plain water until you are able to retrain your taste buds.
Some healthy additions to water are sparkling mineral water with lemon or lime juice or even add some ginger and mint. On the topic of mineral water, some people find that they suffer from bloating and indigestion from drinking carbonated water – that is often because the water has been artificially carbonated rather than carbonated via a natural process. In this case try drinking naturally carbonated water such as Vittoria or San Pellegrino.
Strategies to Increase Your Water Intake
Some ways to ensure adequate water intake are:
- Take a large 1 Litre water bottle to work and ensure you refill it at least once
- Keep a jug of water on your desk and drink a glass every 1.5–2 hours
- Choose water over juice or soft drinks at lunch
- Choose sparkling mineral water at restaurants rather than another glass of wine
- Add a little lemon/lime juice and mint to water for flavour