Water is an essential part of our health and wellbeing. With the warmer months approaching, it’s especially important to drink enough water to balance any fluid losses through extra sweat. However, we all lead very busy lives and it’s easy to get to the end of the day without reaching for a glass. Here’s how much water you should drink each day and our best tips for hitting that goal!
Why is drinking water important for our health?
Water makes up 50 to 80 per cent of our body weight and every cell requires it to function properly. It plays a large role in our body’s digestion, and the absorption and transport of nutrients. It regulates the bodies temperature and eliminates waste from the body (through urine). Intake of tap water also helps to protect against dental cavities due to the added fluoride.
Inadequate water consumption has been associated with poor health, including the impairment of physiological responses, increased risk of kidney stones, cancers and decreased physical and mental performance.
How much water should I drink each day?
The recommended intake of water varies amongst individuals due to age, gender and levels of physical activity.
Adult males require 2.6L/day (10 cups), whilst adult females require 2.1L /day (8 cups). Children require 1-1.5 L/day (4-6 cups) (depending on age), whilst infants require 0.7L/day (3 cups).
Pregnant women have increased water requirements due to the needs of the foetus, requiring 2.3L/day (9 cups). Water requirements for elite athletes are higher than that of the recommendations due to increased losses from sweat. It is recommended that active individuals drink fluids during exercise to replace the fluid lost through sweat. Understanding your sweat rate and knowing how much you should be drinking will help determine how much water you need (an accredited sports dietitian can help you with this!).
What are the signs I’m not drinking enough water?
One of the easiest ways to keep an eye on your hydration is by taking a peek in the toilet bowl! Your urine should be a pale yellow colour. A lack of water can cause your wee to become darker in colour, stronger in odour and cloudier in appearance. A definite sign you need to up your sips.
Other signs you’re not drinking enough water can be headaches, fatigue, dry skin, constipation, dry of sticky mouth and muscle cramps. Symptoms of severe dehydration also include dizziness, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, sunken eyes and fainting. Severe dehyrdation requires immediate medical attention.
Tips for increasing water consumption
1. Make a habit of drinking 1-2 glasses of water with each meal.
2. Take a reusable drink bottle with you on the go ensure you are drinking it throughout the day!
3. Fill up a one litre drink bottle and label it with the hours of the day. Aim to drink a specific amount by each hour.
4. If you take medications morning and/or night, have 1 glass of water with your medications rather than just one sip.
5. You don’t have to just rely on plain water to increase hydration – tea, coffee, milk and juice also count. However, health experts do not recommend swapping water for options with added sugars like soft drinks, cordial, vitamin waters, juices, energy and sports drinks.
6. Add lemon, sliced cucumber and fresh fruit to add extra flavour!
Can I drink too much water?
Although getting enough water is very important for our overall health, it is possible to consume too much. Drinking excessive amounts of water can lead to hyponatremia – a condition in which sodium levels become dangerously low. Too much fluid will dilute the amount of sodium in the bloodstream, leading to abnormally low levels. Sodium plays a key role in our body, helping to maintain normal blood pressure and regulating our body’s fluid balance. Therefore, it is important that we do not consume excessive amounts of water. If you follow the recommended daily intake of water for your gender and age and consume water when you are thirsty, you have nothing to worry about!