Here at Nutritionist London we are always telling people they should drink more water. Most people simply don’t drink enough water each day, but how much should you be drinking? There’s a lot of advice out there but it can be confusing. Should it be 6-8 glasses a day? If so, how big are the glasses? Is it 2 litres a day? Do other drinks and liquids count, or does it have to be water?
Here, Helen Jane from Nutritionist London explains why drinking enough water is so important for our health, what are some of the warning signs that you might not be drinking enough and what really counts towards your daily total.
What are the benefits of water?
Our bodies are made up of about 60% water and we are constantly losing water during the day through urine and sweat but also through other key bodily functions including breathing. Water loss in these ways is really important for removing toxins from the body to prevent us getting ill.
Water is essential for every function within our bodies from reactions within our cells through to maintaining our blood volume levels critical from our cardiovascular system. It really is a fundamental component of health.
This is why it is so important to stay hydrated and top up our water levels, maintaining what we need and making up for what we lose.
How much water should I drink?
Everyone is unique and will have their own individual needs determining how much water they should drink. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) stated in their report that women should have an intake of 2 litres of fluids and for men it should be 2.5 litres. We would advise that the minimum anyone should have is 1.5 litres a day but this should increase depending on your requirements, for example, if you’re particularly active or doing exercise then you will require more.
A simple calculating that is often used to understand an individual’s needs is to multiply your weight in kg by 0.033 to get you daily intake in litres. For example, if someone is 70kg then they will require 2.3 litres of water (70kg x 0.033 = 2.3L).
Other factors that may mean you need to increase your water intake:
Where you are: If you live in hot or humid areas or are on holiday somewhere hotter.
What you eat and drink: Caffeine can increase water loss through urination and diets high in salt, spice or sugar require more water.
Activity levels: if you are exercising or have an active job, you’ll require more water than someone sitting at a desk.
Illness: If you have a fever or are losing fluids through vomiting or diarrhoea you will need to drink more water to replace what you are losing.
Pregnancy or breastfeeding: You’ll need to drink more water to stay hydrated to provide the correct levels for you and your baby
How can I tell if I’m drinking enough?
There are some simple ways to measure your intake of water each day. Getting yourself a water bottle to have with you through out the day to remind you to drink and also give you a way of knowing how much. So if you need 2 litres a day, get a 1 litre water bottle and you know you need to drink 2 a day.
Likewise, if you are at home, get a water filter jug and fill that and if you know it takes 1.5 litres of water then you need to drink one whole jug and 1/3 once you’ve refilled it.
There are also some signs we can look out for which will tell us how hydrated or dehydrated we are. Urine is one of the most useful tools for this and has been used for thousands of years. The colour, smell and density of our urine can tell us a lot about our hydration and our health.
You should be aiming for your urine to be a pale straw like colour if you are healthy and hydrated.
If you struggle to pass urine, have a sense of urgency to go, or a constant thirst then you should consult your GP as these could be signs of an underlying health condition.
Do other drinks or food count?
The good news, especially for those that find water dull, plain water isn’t the only drink that counts towards your daily intake.
Herbal teas are a great way of increasing your water intake. Caffeinated teas and coffees can make the body produce more urine and so you don’t want to count too many of these.
If you do find plain water dull, try experimenting by adding fruits and herbs to it to give it more flavour. Mint and cucumber are our favourites!
Unsweetened coconut water is has also been shown to be effective in rehydrating after exercise as it is also a good source of potassium.
Studies show you can also get around 20% of your fluid intake from food. Here are some of the best hydrating foods:
Watermelon: it is 92% water but also contains other crucial minerals for the rehydration including salt, calcium, and magnesium.
Cucumber: Around 96% water and also a source of vitamin K, B6 and iron.
Celery: About 95% water and also a good source of potassium and vitamin K.
Lettuce: Iceberg lettuce is made up of about 96% water
Strawberries: Around 92% water and a good source of vitamin C.
As you can tell, water and good hydration are critical for our bodies to function properly and remain healthy and there are far more interesting ways of getting your fluid intake than through plain water alone.
As a qualified Nutritional Therapist in London, Helen can help you ensure you are getting enough water and support you with any other health or weight concerns you may have. To contact Helen get in touch via the website at nutritionist.london to book a call or consultation.