Water and Wellbeing
The human body is composed of up to 60% water; therefore, water is essential for our health and wellbeing. When we drink water, it will do many things, including helping our bodies flush out toxins, regulate body temperature and supply oxygen to cells. All living things require water for their survival.
How Much Water Do We Need to Drink?
We all know that we need to be regularly topped up with water to stay healthy, but how much do we need to drink every day? Health experts recommend that we consume around 2 litres of water per day, however, this will depend on your activity level, weight and the climate, drinking more when it is hot as your body is losing more water.
So, how do we know when to drink? Our bodies are very sensitive; when our water levels fall, we feel thirsty. This is due to the osmoreceptors in our brains noticing a minimal drop in cell volume in our bodies, this is when we get that first thirst craving. The osmoreceptors are so sensitive that they will notice as soon as the body has a 1% reduction of body water.
When it comes to the temperature of water we consume, it doesn’t matter either way. However, the temperature of the water you drink will affect how you feel as it will regulate your body temperature, so drinking cold water will cool you down, drinking warm water will warm you up.
What Happens if You Don’t Drink Enough Water or Drink Too Much?
If your body gets dehydrated, you will start to feel unwell. A reduction in body water will cause headaches, tiredness, your mouth will feel dry, you’ll lack concentration and you may feel irritable. If severely dehydrated, you may vomit, shiver, and have an increased heart rate.
We lose water all the time through sweating, urination, our skin, and breathing. Our water intake is usually easy to maintain through eating and drinking via appetite and thirst. However, infants, the elderly, and the sick will find it more difficult to regulate water intake, especially in high temperatures.
In contrast, if you drink too much water can be just as bad for your health. If you drink too much water in a short space of time, it can cause water intoxication – scientifically known as hyponatremia. So, what does consuming too much water do to our bodies?
Webmd explain, “The issue boils down to sodium levels. One of sodium’s jobs is to balance the fluids in and around your cells. Drinking too much water causes an imbalance, and the liquid moves from your blood to inside your cells, making them swell. Swelling inside the brain is serious and requires immediate treatment.”
The best way to know when you need water is to listen to your body and be aware of when you feel thirsty. Our bodies are programmed to fight against dehydration, the more water your body needs, the thirstier you will get. If you constantly feel thirsty, there could be a medical reason for this, so speak to your doctor.