Why Is Water So Important?
Our body is ⅔ water, so it makes sense that we should be drinking lots of it to function well. Water is second to oxygen in the list of things the body needs to stay alive. We can go without food for weeks but can only manage a few days without water. Our bodies can lose between 2-3 quarts of water daily through sweat, urination, excretion and breathing, but it can lose even more if you live in hot or dry climates, exercise or if your diet is high in fibre. Conditions like vomiting, diarrhoea, fever etc can cause the body to lose even more fluids, and caffeine and alcohol will dehydrate the body, which is why it’s even more important to drink water at these times to replace what you’ve lost.
Water does a lot of things for the body which include:
- flushing out toxins and waste from the body
- carries nutrients and oxygen to and from cells via blood
- lines the digestive system, starting with the mouth, via saliva and mucous
- helps our eyes and nose function better
- protects our organs, tissue and joints from shock and damage
- helps maintain a healthy weight, speeds up metabolism
- prevents unnecessary eating, snacking
- improved hair, skin and nails
- reduces cellulite (orange peel skin), also exfoliate the problem area/s
- prevents constipation
One of the problems we have is that the brain doesn’t know how to differentiate between thirst and hunger and the most likely reason you feel hungry or want to snack outside meal times is due to thirst. Some of the tell-tale signs of thirst are as follows, but realise that everyone is different and may not notice them.
- dizziness/light headed
- feeling hungry
- constantly hungry
- sore/dry throat
- dark patches around the eyes
Generally, if someone feels hungry outside of meal times or if they have a headache or feels light headed, they will either eat something, reach for pain relief or have a lie down. I usually suggest to try having a glass of water first and then reassess how you feel between 10-15 minutes later. One problem that can occur is drinking water too fast, like when you can’t quench your thirst. This is a negative sign in itself, it means that you’ve left it too long between drinks, and typical you’ll drink it very quickly and most probably go for another. Don’t. Drinking lots fluids in a small amount of time will not benefit the body at all, it will just pass through you quickly. The trick is to sip and regulate, even if you feel the need to keep drinking.
Here is a typical water menu for the average person during the course of a day:
- On Waking: Your body loses water while you sleep so when you wake drink a large glass of water. Add a slice of lemon, lime, no added sugar juice or squash for flavour.
- Breakfast: If you are an early riser, you’ll probably eat breakfast an hour after you rise (which gives the digestive system time to wake), so you may be able to drink another glass of water, or enjoy an Herbal Tea before setting off for the day. If you don’t have a water font at work, take a two litre bottle with you each day – by doing this you can monitor your water intake.
- Mid-morning: Drink a large glass of water (you can include herbal/decaffeinated tea) with a refreshing water-dense fruit or vegetable snack.
- Lunchtime: Have a further glass of water within half an hour of eating.
- Mid-afternoon: Try to drink another large glass of water before you leave for home or enjoy a hot herbal tea to perk you up around 3pm.
- After work: While you are preparing your evening meal, drink a glass of water and snack on some water-dense fruits or enjoy a green salad with your meal.
- Evening: Avoid alcohol and caffeine late at night – it dehydrates the body and you’re more likely to be up in the night! Try herbal/decaffeinated tea. Tip – try limiting your caffeine intake to two cups per day.
- Bedtime: Remember to turn down the central heating, drink a final glass of water and sleep well!
- Exercise: Have 500ml to 1ltr bottle of water at the ready during your workout – drink little and often to replace the fluids lost in sweat and breathing.
Give your water a refreshing flavour by adding a slice of lemon, lime or orange, you can also add no added sugar squash or juice. Herbal tea and decaffeinated drinks using water can be included in your daily water intake. If the water in your area doesn’t taste good straight from the tap, boil it or filter it, bottle it and keep it chilled – there really is no excuse for possible damage to your body by not drinking enough water.
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