As Chiropractors, we often tell people they should be drinking more water. This isn’t just because it’s important to stay hydrated – water intake plays a massive role in a wide variety of bodily functions, and is one of the keys to living a healthy life.
Below is a great article recently posted by Ben Warren (one of NZ’s leading nutritionists and holistic health experts) on the importance of water to our bodies.
Posted Sunday 22 January, 2017 by Ben Warren
Our body is made up of 60% water, so making sure that you are getting optimal amounts of water is essential for feeling good with optimal health and energy.
Water transports nutrients throughout the body, aids in digestion, regulates temperature, facilitates all pathways of detoxification, protects our joints, promotes healthy bowel movements, improves mental concentration and relieves fatigue.
Because the body cannot store water (as what we have we excrete through urine and sweat), we must constantly provide and supply our bodies with water to maintain its many functioning systems.
Water contains zero energy in a caloric sense, however it is considered a nutrient as it comprises between 50 – 75% of our body’s composition.
Acting as a cooling agent for our body, water is also essential for all major bodily functions, such as:
- Maintaining the health and integrity of every cell in the body
- Aiding in blood circulation
- Carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells
- Helping to eliminate the byproducts of the body’s metabolism
- Regulating body temperature through sweating
- Moisturising the skin
- Moistening mucous membranes
- Lubricating and cushioning joints
- Aiding in digestion
- Helping convert food to energy
- Helping the body absorb nutrients
- Protecting and cushioning vital organs
- Removing waste
Contrary to popular belief, simply drinking water when you are thirsty is not good advice when it comes to properly hydrating the body. When the thirst mechanism activates, it is usually a sign the body is already under hydrated (and possibly headed toward dehydration). At this point, the body has to catch up to function properly.
SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION
- Dry lips and tongue
- Sunken eyes
- Bright coloured or dark urine, or urine with a strong odour
- Infrequent urination
- Small volume of urine
- Apathy or lack of energy
- Sudden decline in performance or day-to-day activities (strength, energy, coordination, decision making, etc.)
SO HOW DO I INCREASE MY WATER INTAKE?
How much water you need to drink on top of your current level will depend on many things like activity level, body weight and the amount of sleep you had the night before. Fatigue can cause you to dehydrate more quickly.
As a general rule, aim for 2-3 litres per day. Include an extra glass for every caffeinated beverage you consume and an extra 500ml- 1L for every hour of moderate-high intensity exercise. For a more precise formula, read my blog on the importance of hydration.
- My favourite way to change the flavour of my water if I’m a bit bored is to choose some fresh herbs and fruit to flavour my water. Some yummy combinations I like are cucumber and raspberry, cucumber and lemon, orange and lemon, lemon and mint, cucumber and mint, raspberry and mint. Seems I like cucumber and mint a lot!
- Invest in a beautiful stainless steel or glass water bottle. By carrying a water bottle around you are reminded to drink water when you are out and about, not just at home or work.
- Compete with yourself. This is handy tip from our BePure community. They set themselves a target to drink by morning tea or midday or dinner time. One client uses traffic lights as a reminder to drink water! When sitting at traffic lights, they drink as much water as feels comfortable while the light is red until it turns green. This is a fun way to challenge yourself and see how much you can drink.
- Lastly, prioritising proper hydration as part of your health goals will help you consume more water. Sometimes we need to engage in new behaviours even if they initially feel difficult just because we know they are good for us.
- Also remember that all non-caffeinated herbal teas count towards your fluid intake. This is great in winter when it’s cold and we want warming fluids and meals. You could also drink a smoothie with a water or coconut water base to help get your fluids up