Why is water essential?
Well, most of your body weight is water and it is involved in many important body functions including body temperature, digestion and thinking.
We do get a little water from the food we eat, perhaps up to about 20% of our needs especially from foods such as soup, celery, watermelon, cucumber, but in the main, we have to drink it. Drinks that dehydrate include tea and coffee and of course alcohol. So, drinking 8 cups of black tea a day is not the same as drinking 8 cups of water. Herbal tea, in the main, is hydrating.
How much fluid depends on several things including your age, weight, how hot it is where you live, what medications you take or conditions you have as well as your physical exertion. If you are a man you might need 6 pints (>3 litres) of fluid a day, if you are a woman then more like 4 pints (2 litres or >8 classes). There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ rule and what suits you one month might not suit you the next.
One way to tell if you are drinking enough is the colour of your urine. Pale straw colour or non-coloured urine typically indicates you are hydrated.
A headache, not needing to pee, feeling tired are all signs you need to drink more water. You may be so used to not drinking enough that your thirst is unnoticeable. To start with, drinking more leads to peeing more. But after a few days your body will start to hold on to the extra water and you should notice a difference in your tissues as a result.
Having dehydrated skin is due to a lack of water. Having dry skin is due to a lack of oil in your skin. So, if your skin is itchy, dull and the wrinkles are more obvious then consider drinking more water. If you have dark circles under your eyes or it looks like you have shadows under your eyes then this too can indicate dehydration. One way to tell is to do the pinch test. Take a small pinch of skin around your cheek or on the back of your hand and squeeze lightly. If you notice any wrinkling and if the skin doesn’t bounce back once you let it go, then your skin may well be dehydrated.
Lastly, if you drink most of your fluid in the morning you are helping your body flush out the toxins that it was able to process through the night. A glass first thing on an otherwise empty stomach does more than just flush out toxins, it brings you to alertness, gets your brain working and jump starts your metabolism. If you struggle to drink cold water, warm it up. If you need flavour, add a squeeze of lemon, a few mint leaves or a slice of cucumber.
If you are like me and endlessly forget, get into the habit of having a full glass beside you at your desk all day and usually you will forget how you drank them all instead. It’s a win-win!