Water - How Much Do I Really Need to Drink?

You probably know you should be drinking water but what if you find it boring? How much water should you be having and what drinks count as water? You might be pleasantly surprised! This blog post explains all of this and more and gives you three 'water rules' to help guide you through staying hydrated. midlifemenu.com/blog/water

Water - How Much Do I Really Need to Drink?

 

How many of you carry a water bottle to work? And how many of you take it home again with most of it full?

 

Just because water bottles are all the rage, are they really necessary? My clients often ask me these three questions: how much do you really need to drink, what counts as fluid and what if you just get bored with the taste of water?

 

I’ve got all the answers, so grab a drink and dive right in … did you see what I did there!?

 

 

Water - How Much Do I Really Need to Drink?

Water is essential for life. You can only survive a few days without it. And being hydrated is essential for health. Arguably water is the most essential nutrient of them all. Water is needed for every cell and function in your body.

 

Water is a huge part of your blood; it cushions your joints and aids digestion. It helps stabilise your blood pressure and heart beat. It helps to regulate your body temperature and helps maintain electrolyte (mineral) balance. And that's just a few of its roles.

 

Dehydration can affect mood and concentration, and contribute to headaches and dizziness. It can reduce your physical endurance, and increase the risk for kidney stones and constipation. Extreme dehydration can cause heat stroke.

 

So, water is critical for life and health.

 

But, just as way too little water is life-threatening, so is way too much. As with most things in health and wellness, there is a healthy balance to be reached.

 

 

How much water do I need?

Once upon a time, there was a magic number called "8x8." This was the recommendation to drink eight-8 oz glasses of water every day;  that's about 2 litres of water. 

 

However, this "one size fits all" rule may not be the best approach. Now, many health professionals recommend drinking according to thirst. You don’t need to go overboard forcing down glasses of water when you’re not thirsty. Just pay attention to your thirst mechanism. We have complex hormonal and neurological processes that are constantly monitoring how hydrated we are. And for healthy adults, this system is very reliable.

 

Besides thirst, pay attention to how dark and concentrated your urine is. The darker your urine, the more effort your body is making to hold on to the water it has. Urine is still getting rid of the waste, but in a smaller volume of water, so it looks darker.

 

There are other signs too that you need to drink.  If you’re sweating a lot, or are in a hot/humid climate drink more. Breastfeeding mums, elderly people, and people at risk of kidney stones need to drink more water too. So do people who experience vomiting and/or diarrhoea, as both can quickly dehydrate our bodies.

 

There is no magic number of the amount of water you need. Everyone is different. Children, pregnant women, elderly people need more.  Episodes of vomiting or diarrhoea will also increase your short-term need for more water.  The most important thing is to pay attention to your thirst. Other signs you need more water are dark urine, sweating, constipation, and kidney stones.

Water Rule 1: Everyone is different. Ditch the “one size fits all” rule, and pay more attention to your body’s subtle cues for water.

What counts toward my water intake?

Good news - all fluids and foods containing water contribute to your daily needs. That includes, tea, coffee and alcohol...in moderation! They do have a dehydrating effect but basically, overall, these drinks provide more fluid than they remove but I wouldn't suggest relying on them as your source of water!

 

If you're not drinking pure water, consider the effects that the other ingredients have on your body. Drinks with sugar, alcohol, and caffeine will have effects besides hydration. Sugar can mess with your blood sugar balance, alcohol can make you feel "buzzed." Caffeine can keep you awake.

 

Does Coffee Dehydrate Me?

Caffeine is the infamous "dehydrator," right? Well, not so much. If you take high dose caffeine pills, then sure, they cause fluid loss. But the idea that coffee and tea don't count toward your water intake is an old myth. While caffeine may make you have to go to the bathroom more, that effect isn't strong enough to negate the hydrating effects of its water. Plus, if you're tolerant to it (i.e. regularly drink it) then the effect is even smaller. So, you don’t need to counteract your daily cup(s) of coffee and/or tea. You can read more from me about the pros and cons of caffeine right here.

 

Also, many foods contain significant amounts of water. Especially fruits and vegetables like cabbage, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, celery, spinach, lettuce, apples, pears, oranges, grapes, carrots, and pineapple. These foods are over 80% water, so they are good sources of hydration.

 

Water Rule 2: You don’t need to count your plain water intake as your only source of hydration. All fluids and foods with water count.

Make Water More Interesting!

It’s true - water is not the most exciting thing to drink. But there are ways to mix it up a little and make it a little more interesting.

Water Rule 3: Mix it up!

 

Simply add some sliced or frozen fruit to your water. It adds a bit of interest to the taste.

 

Since we learned that you could hydrate just as well with other water-containing beverages, here are some of my favourite herbal teas you can drink hot or cold.

 

  • Fennel

  • Lemon

  • Peppermint

  • Rooibos (this one's better hot!)

  • Ginger

  • Lemon Balm

  • Rose Hip

  • Lemon Verbena

 

 If you want some more advice on what to eat and drink for best midlife health, why not sign up for my June 24th webinar on midlife weight gain - what cause it and what to do about it?

Content Disclaimer

The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Midlife Menu Ltd disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.

 

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