It's so easy to take water for granted. It's there when we need it. We drink when we are thirsty. And yet water is one of the most essential elements to our health; the body simply cannot work without it. It comprises the majority of our body with more than two thirds of our body weight coming from water. Our brain and blood consists of over 80% water and it is through our blood that nutrients and oxygen are carried throughout the body.
Water plays an important role in almost every bodily function and can be the answer to some very common questions:
Feeling tired? Try drinking some water! Water may be the cause of your feeling fatigued. Even if it is not, water can give you energy due to increased oxygen levels in the bloodstream, which also helps your brain function at optimum levels by oxygenating it.
Feeling aches and pains in your joints? Cartilage is primarily made up of water. Water helps to lubricate your joints, tissues and spinal cord preventing things like knee and back injuries.
Struggling with your digestion? Water helps to lubricate the process of digestion as saliva in our mouth allows for a smoother passage of food. It can alleviate constipation and help with bowel movement, removing harmful toxins from the body.
Feeling sick? Drinking the recommended amount of daily water has been proven to prevent various diseases. When you are feeling sick you may not feel like eating or drinking but it is very important to replace the water the body loses and remain hydrated. Fevers can cause dehydration, which in turn makes the fever worse. Dehydration can make nausea worse as it does with congestion when you have a cold, given that water helps to break mucus down.
Trying to lose weight? Water is known to suppress the appetite and increase your metabolic rate, helping your body to burn more fat.
Trying to fight ageing? Dehydration can cause skin issues and wrinkling, whereas keeping your body hydrated can help keep your skin looking its best.
Struggling with urinary tract infections? Drinking enough water is the easiest way to reduce the chances of getting a UTI and keeping the kidneys flushed of toxins and free of excess fluids (also a leading cause of kidney stones).
With countless benefits to drinking enough water and staying hydrated - how much water should you be drinking a day? Though there is no set rule, a good tell tale sign is to look at your urine - if it's clear you are hydrated, if it's dark you are not! Because our bodies are all different, there is no one size fits all for the amount of water we should drink every day.
Most frequently you might hear that it is 8-8 ounces of water a day. However, according to the Institute of Medicine, a decent intake for men is roughly 13 cups (3 liters) a day, whereas for women it is around 9 cups (2.2 liters). A lot of times, thirst isn't a strong enough sign of dehydration so it's important to pay attention to the amount you are drinking.
The quality of water is just as important as quantity you are drinking as it could contain contaminants harmful to the body. Though tap water is safe to drink in the UK and US, it really only means that any contaminants it may contain don't cause a serious risk to health. There are a lot of arguments as to why you shouldn't drink tap water. Did you know that the fluoride in tap water might be harmful to people with hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid)? This was new news to me as someone who suffers from Hashimoto's - although, it's important to note that fluoride is also present in various foods as well that you may want to avoid if you are trying to steer clear of fluoride. There are additional concerns about drinking water that contains fluoride of which you can read more about that here and here.
If you're interested in getting a filter, keep in mind that not all filters remove fluoride so be sure to do your homework when shopping! It often helps to keep a thermos filled with water with you to remind you to stay hydrated, in particular a glass one as chemicals can often seep out of plastic (which is bad for the planet anyways) and into your water when exposed to heat.
So, with all of that said, I challenge you to make a more conscious effort to drink more water this year and pay attention to the difference it will create in your life. Make it a part of your new year's resolutions and make your health a priority for 2018!