Water – how much is enough?

Water palaver

There’s no denying it, drinking water is good for you, dare we say it, it’s vital to our health. We’re two thirds water and pretty much every function within our bodies needs it, especially the icky ones that help to rid us of toxins and other nasties; but also it helps us remain alert and is an important factor in food digestion.

You’d think then that the best bet would be to drink all the water, all the time. Wrong. It’s true that if you don’t drink enough you can damage your health but there is such a thing as drinking too much.

How much is OK?

Back in 2010, The European Food Safety Authority suggested that men should drink two litres (three and half pints) of water per day and women should drink around a litre and a half (1.6 litres, just less than three pints). That’s somewhere between eight and ten glasses a day.  For context, the average bottle of water is 500ml so four of these for a man and a bit more than three for women. Not rocket science, and don’t forget milk, water, fruit juices and good old tea and coffee all contribute to our water intake – just keep an eye on sugar and caffeine intake.

When the heat is on

Summer scorchers are a bit thin on the ground these days but don’t forget to up the water intake on warmer days and when you’re exercising. If you’re travelling (especially on the mobile sauna that is the London Underground), keep a bottle with you at all times. Little and often is the key to staying hydrated.

How do you know if you are dehydrated?

Obviously, feeling thirsty is the most telling sign plus dark coloured or strongly smelling urine (sorry but wee had to feature in a post about drinking water at some stage!). You might also feel sluggish, light headed and/or have a dry mouth.

Is it possible to be over-hydrated?

In short yes but if you have healthy kidneys the main thing you’ll be aware of is needing to go to the loo more often. Over-hydration occurs when the body retains or collects too much water. This can lead to water intoxication and sodium levels that are dangerously low, which is referred to as hyponatraemia. This isn’t really something you need to worry about unless you’re a marathon runner/endurance athlete, but again stay aware of your thirst levels. If you’re concerned, the first port of call should be your GP (NOT Google 🙂 )

Get sipping!

Water intake is important but don’t get too hung up on it. Keep a bottle or glass at hand all day to sip at, and keep it topped up. If you find water a bit boring try sparkling water or infuse it with citrus fruit, mint, or cucumber to make it more interesting. Finally, we all try and fail at this one but if you’re out for the night and are planning on a errr big one, do try to match each alcoholic drink with a glass of water. On the occasions we’ve remembered to do it, it’s made all the difference. Honest!

We’ve kept our post short but if you want to read more, head over to the NHS website for more info.