Why Is Drinking Water Important?
What is the most important element when it comes to health?
We can live without food for several months, but we could hardly survive without water for over 10 days.
Approximately 60 percent of a human body is made up of water; brain tissues are 85% water, our lungs are 90% water, our blood is 80% water, and our lean muscles are 70% water. Water plays a very essential part in our bodily functions. Water flows through the blood, carrying oxygen and nutrients to all parts of our bodies, and flushing all impurities and wastes out of our bodies. It also plays a crucial role in maintaining body temperature, cushioning our joints and soft tissues, building material for growth, and protecting the health of our vital organs. Without water, we simply cannot absorb or digest food. Clearly, without water, our bodies could not function properly.
One of the important questions that I always ask my clients during the initial consultation is that, “How much water do you drink on an average day?”
Below are some of the interesting answers I often get from my clients:
“I think I drink enough water for the day. I have at least 5 cups of coffee and 3 cups of tea a day. Do they count as water?”
“I don’t like to drink plain water. But I drink milk, fruit juices and cordial.”
“I only drink water when I feel thirsty.”
“I know I don’t drink enough water because I always forget to drink!”
“I always have 1 glass of water to take with my medication in the morning. Then I will have tea and coffee for the rest of the day.”
“I drink about 1-2L/day, plus 6-8 cans of pepsi max.”
“I try not to drink water, because it makes me go to the toilet.”
Perhaps you may have drunk plenty of liquids in various forms each day, however, it does not necessary mean that you have drunk enough water to supply the needs of your body.
Why does it have to be plain water?
We all know that when we have shower, we use only plain water. We don’t use coffee, tea, soft drinks, milk or any other beverages to clean our bodies. Then why would we use coffee, tea or other beverages to replace water when it comes to cleaning the inside of our bodies?
Imagine if you poured a cup of coffee onto your body, how much water will you need just to clean the stain of coffee on your body? Then what about the inside of your body? All caffeinated and sugary beverages as well as alcoholic beverages are diuretic, which means your body loses more water every time when you drink them as they make you more dehydrated, just like drinking salt water. Coffee, tea, milk, juices and soda drinks do not count as water!
Your body is crying for water. Yes, just plain water!
So how much water should you drink a day?
In general, it is recommended that we should drink at least 2 to 3 litres of water on an average day.
Based on the Nutrient Reference Values, adult men should drink 2.6 litres of water a day (about 10 cups) and adult women should drink 2 litres a day (about 8 cups). But these recommendations are based on the average weight of men and women.
To be more accurate, we should aim to drink 35ml of water per kilogram of our bodyweight. People with increased exercise, who live in hot climates, as well as pregnant and breast-feeding women are encouraged to drink more water.
How can you tell that your body isn’t getting enough water?
Symptoms of dehydration
Thirst. Thirst perception deteriorates with age. If you are thirsty, it simply means that your body are already dehydrated considerably.
Headaches and migraines
Tiredness and lethargy
confusion and hallucinations
Other side effects of dehydration such as stress, poor digestion, high blood pressure, heart weight gain, increased body ache and back pain and diabetes.
Severe dehydration can eventually lead to urinary dysfunction, kidney failure and inability of the body removing toxic wastes. In extreme cases, dehydration may result in fatal heart attack and death.
10 Health Benefits of Drinking Water
1. Promote weight loss
2. Increase energy levels and reduce fatigue
3. Prevent and treat headaches and migraines
4. Improve mood and reduce stress
5. Relieve constipation
6. Good for heart
7. Nourish skin
8. Cleanse your body
9. Improve digestion
10. Reduce food cravings
Tips for increasing daily water intake
For those who always forget about drinking water, make drinking water a habit that fits into your daily routine. Aim to drink a big glass of water first thing in the morning. Then remind yourself to always drink water before mealtimes. You may start with a small cup of water each time, then gradually build up to a larger amount. Ideally if you drink 500ml x 4 times per day, you will be meeting 2 litres of water requirement per day.
For those who do not enjoy drinking plain water, you can consider having non-caffeinated herbal tea or fruit based tea such as peppermint tea, cranberry tea, camomile tea, lemon ginger tea, strawberry tea, lemon myrtle tea and lemon grass tea. They are hydrating and refreshing, and can be considered as part of your water intake.
For those who love fizzy drink, try adding a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to soda water, mineral water or sparkling water to add natural flavour with enriched vitamin C.
Keep a bottle or glass of water handy on your desk or in your bag.
Add ice cubes made from fresh fruit to a glass of water.
Ideally, it’s best to start develop a good habit of drinking water when you first get up in the morning before breakfast. This is when your body is most dehydrated. Start your day with pure clean water to help cleanse your gut and body system.
Every time when you crave for food and you’re not hungry, ask yourself, “Have I drunk enough water?” Thirst is often confused with hunger. Drink a glass of water before you reach for food will help reduce your cravings over non-hungry eating.
At least 70% of your diet should consist of water-rich foods. This allow your body to cleanse itself. Failing to consume enough water means you are clogging your body, not cleansing it.
Although unlikely, it's possible to drink too much water. When your kidneys are not functioning well in excreting the excess water, the sodium content of your blood is diluted and may lead to hyponatremia. Seek help from a medical doctor or a dietitian to help you determine the amount of water that is right for you if you had some medical concerns.