Should we all be drinking more water?
I’m sure that at some point in our lives we been told to ‘drink more water’. A very simple recommendation, but is it one which could be misleading and harmful to some?
This is a very vague statement, as our fluid intakes and requirements vary so much from person to person. So before we delve into over-hydration, lets look at hydration levels in general.
Our bodies are about two thirds water, so it’s pretty important to ensure we stay adequately hydrated. This is what we call euhydration (a state of ‘normal body water content’ with the absence of absolute hydration or dehydration). In this state the body can carry out its daily functions optimally.
Being in a state of euhydration can prevent the following:
- Urinary tract infections (UTI)
- Kidney stones
Dehydration can occur when you fail to drink enough fluid, or by losing fluids (through sweating for example) and not adequately replacing them.
The following groups of people are at greater risks of becoming dehydrated:
- Babies and infants – they are more sensitive to even small amounts of fluid loss
- Elderly – may be less aware they are dehydrated and may feel discouraged from drinking due to needing to urinate more frequently
- Athletes- can lose larger amounts of fluid through sweating during long periods of time (marathons/training)
Hyper or over-hydration can occur when too much fluid enters the body. This can cause the salt and other electrolyte levels in the body to become too diluted, leading to risks of hyponatremia (low sodium levels). Although overhydration may be a less common problem for the population as a whole, it is still a very dangerous condition which may lead to symptoms such as increase muscle cramps or spasms, headaches, nausea and vomiting.
Some conditions may also cause your body to hold onto more water. These conditions include congestive heart failure, liver disease, kidney disease and uncontrolled diabetes. Please speak with your GP or healthcare professional if you have any of these conditions to manage risks of over-hydration.
Should we all be drinking more water?
Well, this is a hard question to answer we are all unique and will have different fluid requirements.
The general guideline for fluid intake is 1.5 – 2 litres per day. But it’s important to highlight that this is a very generalised recommendation, and if your baseline is already about 3-4 litres per day, drinking more fluid may increase the risks of over-hydration.
How do I know where I am on the hydration spectrum?
The BEST and easiest way to check how hydrated you are is to check your wee! Not very glamorous, but it will tell you what you need to know.
You are aiming for a PALE yellow colour, not completely clear (this may suggest over hydration).
If it is any darker (more of an amber colour) then this suggests you may need to increase your fluid intake.
If it is cloudy this may suggest UTI or a kidney condition.
Our fluid requirements will differ due to:
- Activity levels (more sweating=more fluid required)
- Health conditions
What counts as fluid?!
Not all liquid counts as fluid when it comes to hydration. But the following liquids do:
- Plain water
- Sparkling water
- Coconut water (although I don’t recommend drinking only this for your total daily fluid!)
- Herbal teas (chamomile, mint, green)
Take home points
- We need the right amount of fluid to function optimally and feel our best
- Sip fluids throughout the day rather than consuming huge boluses of water (research has shown gradual fluid intake works better for re-hydration)
- Always check your urine colour – get to know your body and how much fluid YOU need
- Get creative with your fluid intake by trying a fruit or vegetable naturally infused water (a favourite of mine is mint, cucumber and strawberry)
*** This blog post is not intended or implied to be a substitute for seeking professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information provided here is general and is not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure any diseases or conditions. Please contact your GP or private health consultant if you have any personal health concerns, or consult a registered nutritional therapist for personalised dietary and lifestyle advice and guidance.