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Water For Health

We all know that we should drink lots of water, suggested amounts are upwards of 1.5litres a day (The British Dietetic Association advises that we should consume 2.5 litres a day to remain healthy). However there is a lot of controversy; do tea and coffee count? How about squash or herbal tea? Should you have an extra glass for each alcoholic drink?

The following report will try and answer the following questions:

Why do our bodies need water?
How much water should I drink?
What are the benefits of lots of water?
What are the risks of not having enough water?
How do I know if I’m dehydrated?
Can we have too much water?
How does water help weight loss?

Why our bodies need water?

Water makes up 50-70% of our body weight and without it we would die within a matter of days. Water is involved in many of our bodily processes and functions, it helps regulate temperature, flushes out waste products and provides a medium in which essential chemical and biological reactions occur. Water is lost through urine, sweat and vapour from the lungs – it needs to be replenished on a regular basis.

How much water should I drink?

There is no set figure as it depends on your age, sex, metabolism, activity levels, diet and many other factors. However 2 litres of water is sufficient for most people; if you are hugely active or live in a very hot climate, this should be increased to 3 litres. Other fluids such as squash, tea and coffee can count towards our total intake but if you are drinking water for health, 2 litres of plain water is ideal, plus your other liquids. There is no need to buy bottled water as tap water (in the UK at least) is of a perfectly acceptable standard.

What are the benefits of lots of water?

Where do I start?! Our bodies are clever things and can function on minimal amounts of water or fluids. But for our bodies to function at their best, for us to feel healthy, energetic and stay slim, we need more than just a glass or 2. Lots of water can help to prevent many ailments such as headaches, heartburn, kidney problems, raised blood pressure, skin complaints and problems with dental and oral health. It helps with concentration, keeps us active by preventing fatigue and boosts metabolism. Water keeps the cells of our skin and muscles plump so making us look more radiant, generally younger and decreasing wrinkles. Water is a great diet aid.

What are the risks of not having enough?

Insufficient water will ultimately lead to death, but few of us will get this far! However millions of people are chronically dehydrated leading to poor functioning of the body. Headaches, fatigue, bad skin, poor concentration, urinary tract infections, kidney stones and poor digestion can all be caused by dehydration.

How do I know if I’m dehydrated?

Feeling thirsty is a sign of dehydration so it is a good idea to pre-empt this and drink before the feeling of thirst kicks in. Initial symptoms of dehydration also include fatigue, headaches, lack of concentration, followed by constipation and, in the longer term, kidney stones (which are apparently one of the most painful things a human can suffer from – the closest a man can get to childbirth!). Having dark coloured, concentrated urine is also a sign of dehydration, but do bear in mind that coloured food such as beetroot and synthetic vitamins (especially B vitamins) can change the colour of our urine.

Can we have too much?

In a word, yes. This is relatively rare, and not something most of us need to worry about, but drinking vast amounts of water in a short space of time can upset the balance of salts in our bodies and be dangerous. This can occur in marathon runners who are constantly rehydrating throughout the race, but not eating anything to replenish salts lost.

How does water help weight loss?

Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, our bodies find it very difficult to distinguish between the 2 feelings. So having a glass of water when you feel hungry can stop the feelings of hunger and work as an appetite suppressant. Most food (especially fruit and vegetables) contain water, so when our bodies crave food, it may well be the water contained in them that we actually need. When we eat out of thirst, instead of hunger, our bodies are taking in a lot of unnecessary calories, simply because we need more fluid.

One of the main functions of your liver is to break down fat. It also helps out your kidneys if they are not functioning as effectively as they could (it does a lot of other good stuff too!). If we are not consuming enough water, our kidneys aren’t working at their best, so the liver lends a hand – meaning its job of breaking down fat is put on a backburner…..and the fat stays in our bodies.

Most of the chemical reactions in the body happen in water and when there is not enough water, all these reactions slow down – and that includes our metabolism. There are no concrete figures on this but one study showed that after drinking about 0.5 litres of water, participants’ metabolism (the rate at which calories are burnt) increased by 30%. They estimate that drinking an extra 1.5 litres of water a day can lead to a weight loss of 5lb over a year. If the water is cold, more calories are burnt as our bodies need to heat it before it can be absorbed.

The benefits of drinking water are endless, it really should be obvious that we should all be drinking a minimum of 1.5 litres of plain water everyday, and when we start to do this we will notice improvements in our health and vitality within days, if not hours! So grab a glass now and get started!

Katie Brooke writes a weekly newsletter advising busy women (and a few men!) on how to become and stay slim, fit and healthy, when we have busy lifestyles. You can subscribe to the newsletter, and find a lot more information on health at http://busygirlsguide.webs.com/

Katie Brooke writes a successful newsletter about becoming healthier, slimmer and fitter. This is an example of one of the letters, you can see more and subscribe at http://busygirlsguide.webs.com/aboutme.htm

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