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Why do we need 8 glasses of water a day?

So is the old wives tale that we need to drink 8 glasses of water each day really true?

In clinic I notice lots of people don't drink much water and many find it hard to drink more than 3 glasses of water each day.

Did you know that our body has an innate thirst reflex which when ignored for a period of time ends up not being recognised by our body?

(So people no longer recognise the need for water.)

Why is drinking water so important?

Water cushions and lubricates our joints, regulates our body temperature, as well as nourishes our brain and spinal cord. Water makes up 50 - 60 % of our body, and as well as being a major component of our blood water makes up almost 75% of our brain and heart, 83% of our lungs and 31% of our bones.

What are the signs of dehydration?

Headaches, migraines, dry mouth, dry eyes and dry skin are all signs of dehydration. Our mood can become irritable and concentration becomes poor. (A dehydrated brain has to work harder than a hydrated brain, and it even temporarily causes the brain to shrink temporarily.) We can also get leg cramps and spasms.

So what are the benefits of drinking water?

  1. Weight loss: Drinking water helps you lose weight because it flushes down the by-products of fat breakdown. It also reduces hunger, and is an effective appetite suppressant so you’ll eat less.

  2. Reduces headaches: Water helps to relieve headache and back pains due to dehydration.

  3. Healthier Skin: Water helps to replenish skin tissues, moisturizes skin and increases skin elasticity.

  4. Better productivity at work: As mentioned above, as your brain is made up of 75% water, good hydrated helps you think better, be more alert and have better concentration.

  5. Better exercise: Drinking water regulates your body temperature so you’ll feel more energetic when doing exercise and your muscles will work more effectively.

  6. Improved digestion, reduces constipation: Drinking water improves your metabolism because it helps with digestion and also encourages regular bowel movements.

  7. Less cramps and sprains: Good hydration helps keep your joints and muscles lubricated, so you’ll less likely get cramps and sprains.

  8. Relieves fatigue: Water is used by the body to help flush out toxins and waste products from the body. If your body lacks water, your heart, for instance, needs to work harder to pump out the oxygenated blood to all cells, so are the rest of the vital organs, your organs will be exhausted and so will you.

  9. Good mood: As your brain is 75% water, when it is hydrated it functions well.

I really don't like drinking water, what can I do?

- start slowly - for example have a glass of water when you get up, before lunch and before bed. Over

time increase the water throughout the day until you reach the two litre recommendation

- put lemon juice or a sprig of mint or a slice of orange in your water

- find the temperature of water that you prefer: try chilled, or tepid water, or put ice with it

- drink herbal teas

- increase your fruit and vegetable intake. The water content within our food makes up about one fifth of our daily intake. Foods that contain the most water are fruit: like strawberries, watermelon, grapes and cantaloupes and vegetables like zucchini, tomato, radish, tomatoes cucumbers and even broccoli.

Overhydration: You can also become over hydrated, which can lead to serious complications. This is more common in athletes, as cells swell and the kidneys lose their capacity to function normally.

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