Drinking plenty of water is essential to keep virtually every system in your body working properly, and not only in the warmer months. We take a look at the vital role water plays in your body.
Water is the most important nutrient in your diet. It performs countless vital functions in your body.
These include removing toxins and waste from your body, maintaining blood circulation, supplying other nutrients to where they’re needed, and regulating your internal body temperature. The benefits of drinking water can be felt throughout your body, from your digestive system to your skin and hair.
Water is lost from your body every day through these processes. You need to balance your intake of water with how much you lose through urinating, sweating and breathing.
How much water should I be drinking?
The current recommended levels of water intake are around 2 litres for women and 2.5 litres for men, per day. You might see this written elsewhere as eight glasses of water a day (or ten for men).
In summer, the higher temperatures mean you lose more water and you need to drink more to counteract this.1 In winter you may not need to drink quite as much as in the warmer months, but staying hydrated is just as important.
It’s really important to drink lots of water before, during and after exercising, especially in the heat, to make up for fluid loss from the activity. You should also consider using a sports drink containing electrolytes and carbohydrates.1
What counts as a glass of water?
For the purpose of this article, we’re talking about glasses of around 250ml. Of course, all glasses (and mugs, and bottles) are different sizes, which is why many people find the two-litre rule easier to follow.
While we generally talk about drinking enough water, it’s important to note that most fluids count towards your intake. Tea, coffee and even soup count towards your daily goal and will help to hydrate you.
It’s best to avoid fizzy drinks or large volumes of fruit juice, as these contain sugars and additives that aren’t beneficial in high volumes. But if you’re bored of plain water, switch it up with some no added sugar squash or cordial, or start drinking herbal teas.
Fruits and vegetables can also count towards your intake, as many of them have a high water content. One of many reasons to aim for at least 5 A Day!
The health benefits of drinking water
Drinking enough water is absolutely essential for a healthy, happy body. Good hydration has countless benefits, but we’ve rounded up the top five to help you stay motivated:
1. Drinking water can help you to control your appetite
If you are looking to lose weight, or just want to stay healthy, drinking more water is a great piece of advice. The more hydrated you are, the less likely you are to overeat. Any healthy diet, whether focused on weight loss or not, should include at least eight glasses of water (or other fluids) a day.
Water-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables should form a large part of your diet, as around 20% of your fluid intake comes from the food you eat.2 Foods with high water content are actually more filling, meaning they can prevent you from wanting to snack between meals.
Another top tip is to drink a glass of water as a first resort when you feel hungry, as your body often confuses thirst for hunger.3
To find out more about eating a healthy diet that suits your individual needs and requirements, book a dietary consultation with one of our specialists.
2. Water energises your muscles
Having the right balance of water and electrolytes in your muscles helps them to perform at their best. That’s why it’s important to drink lots of water before doing exercise, and to keep your fluid intake high during and after your workout.
Drinking water regularly helps to replace what you lose through sweating. A sports drink can be particularly effective at replacing lost electrolytes.3
3. Drinking enough water makes your skin look great
Dehydrated skin is more likely to appear dry and wrinkled. You can combat this by upping your fluid intake.3
Give your skin an extra boost by using a moisturising lotion to lock in your skin’s natural moisture, and protect your skin from the summer sun by using a lotion with a high sun protection factor - choose an SPF of 30 or more.
It’s important to remember, however, that water is not a miracle beauty product. Over-hydrating can’t get rid of wrinkles and fine lines completely.3 Find out more about improving the condition of your skin with a dermatology consultation.
Your kidneys purify your blood and remove waste products from your body by passing them into your urine. As long as you are fully hydrated, your kidneys are highly effective at removing toxins such as nitrogen from your body.
You’ll know if you’re drinking enough water because your urine will be light in colour and won’t smell.
If you are dehydrated for a long period of time you are more susceptible to issues such as kidney stones. Good hydration can also lower your risk of urinary tract infections.3
5. Water helps your bowels function smoothly
Drinking enough water helps your digestive system to function properly. Lack of water can cause uncomfortable issues such as constipation.
People are becoming more and more aware of just how important the health of your gut is to your overall health – both physical and mental.
The perfect combination to look after your gut function is eating lots of fibre and drinking lots of water. Together they are the best way to keep your bowels happy.3
Want more articles like this? Sign up to our newsletter.
1Staying hydrated in the heat
26 reasons to drink water
3Difference Between Being Hungry and Thirsty