On occasion I meet individuals who do not like drinking water because they find it too plain. This is often the case if someone’s taste buds are used to caffeinated or sweet drinks. 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.
Chilled, Warm or Room Temperature?
This is another common query. Should our water be drunk at room temperature, slightly warmed, or drunk cold? The theory behind drinking warm water or room temperature over chilled is that chilled water is too much of a ‘shock’ to our body, which typically sits around 37 degrees. To date, however, there is no supporting evidence to suggest one is better than the other. In reality, most of us are able to drink more water if it is at room temperature simply because chilled water is often too cold to drink at once.
Should You Wait Until You Are Thirsty?
By the time we actually feel thirsty we are already dehydrated. This is due to the delay in response from brain osmoreceptors – an area of brain tissue that literally detects when we are running low on water. The best approach is to be proactive toward drinking water and to drink it regularly throughout the day. Drinking your entire water intake at the end of the day because you have realised you haven’t drunk enough unfortunately won’t be of much benefit. This is because the body filters water at a certain rate, leading you to pass the excess water as urine. Waiting till the end of the day will most likely lead to disturbed sleep when you have to keep getting up to go to the bathroom! A better approach is to pace yourself and drink a glass or about 200 ml every 1.5–2 hours. If you find that you have to go to the bathroom more than once throughout the night try limiting fluids three hours before bed.
Lastly, an interesting phenomenon occurs when we become dehydrated. Our body confuses hunger with thirst. So the next time you are feeling hungry try drinking a glass of water to see if your appetite can be curbed.
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