Health Q&A

How Much Water Should You Drink? Stay Hydrated & Healthy

January 3, 2019

Water is essential for good health and well-being

The human body comprises of approximately 60% water, so it comes as no surprise that it requires a constant replenishment of water for your good physical and mental health. Our bodies require water for daily functions like regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, providing protection for the spine and other organs, and eliminating waste in the form of urine, sweat and bowel movements.

How much water should you be drinking?

We need to maintain a healthy balance of water in our bodies. Generally, there is a rule of thumb that advocates an 8×8 water rule. This means that you should drink eight 236ml (or eight ounces) of water each day. However, the exact amount you should be drinking is very dependent on your individual needs, so you should take into consideration your age, gender, physical activity, health and special circumstances, like if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Consult your doctor or a nutritionist to find how much water you require to ensure your good health.

The health benefits of water

There are many benefits to remaining well hydrated. Some of these relate to water’s ability to: 

  • Maximise physical performance
  • Improve mood and concentration
  • Prevent constipation
  • Reduce the risk of developing kidney stones
  • Aid with weight loss as it increases your metabolic rate
  • Help alleviate acne and other skin problems
  • Reduce the risk of developing certain types of diseases, like colorectal cancer

 

Signs of dehydration

Dehydration occurs when your body has an insufficient supply of water to function properly. The effects of dehydration can range from mild to severe and may include a decrease in mental or physical performance, mood swings, seizures, loss of consciousness or even organ failure.

Are you dehydrated? You can do two simple things to check

1.The skin test

Use your fingers to pinch up some skin on the back of your hand and then let go. If you’re well hydrated, the skin should spring back into place quite quickly. However, if you’re dehydrated the skin will remain tented before resuming its appearance.

2. Urine test

Check the colour of your urine. If it’s clear with a slight yellow tinge then it’s an indication that you’re well hydrated, but if your urine is a dark yellow or orange colour, then you should increase your water intake.

Some of the physical symptoms of dehydration may include:

  • Bad breath

 

If you’re dehydrated, your body does not have enough liquid to make sufficient saliva. The result is bacteria overgrowth in your mouth, which emits a foul odour.

  • Muscle cramps

 

As you lose water, through sweating or urination, your body’s sodium, electrolyte and potassium levels decrease. If not properly replenished this can cause severe muscle cramps.

  • Fever or chills

 

Developing a fever or chills is often the result of having vomited or diarrhoea, so it’s important to increase your liquid intake if you have an illness, like stomach flu.

  • Food cravings

 

If you’re dehydrated, it becomes difficult for organs, like the liver, to release glycogen (stored glucose) into the bloodstream, so your body begins to crave sugary food like sweets or chocolates.  

  • Headaches

 

Dehydration impedes bodily functions and has been linked to the occurrence of headaches and migraines.

Foods with a high water content

It’s not just water that supplies your body with water. There are a number of foods you can add to your diet, which not only have a high water content, but are also rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Some of these include:

  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Melons
  • Peaches
  • Oranges
  • Skim milk
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce
  • Marrows
  • Celery
  • Plain yoghurt
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Grapefruit
  • Coconut water

 

Is it possible to drink too much water?

It is possible to consume too much water, which can cause a condition known as hyponatremia, whereby the excess water dilutes your body’s electrolytes and can result in nausea, mental confusion or cramps.

Tips to stay hydrated

Topmed recommends the following tips for keeping hydrated:

  • Keep a water bottle with you and make sure you refill it once it’s finished
  • Add some lemon or cucumber to your water to make it taste more appealing
  • Try out some healthy herbal teas like mint or chamomile
  • Choose snacks with a high water content, like watermelon
  • Avoid sugary drinks or alcohol as these beverages do not hydrate your body
  • If you’re an active sportsperson, try an energy drink with added electrolytes

 

Water is an essential component for healthy bodily functions. Topmed recommends a healthy diet and lifestyle, so make sure you stay hydrated and healthy. Get in touch today and sign up for cover for yourself and your family.

 

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