I will be honest with you, I am definitely struggling to drink enough water. It’s winter here in South Africa, and in general, I am not a winter person, and I fall off the health bandwagon every year. I struggle with getting in enough water the most. I know that a lot of people struggle with this in general, either because they don’t like water, or they get really busy and forget, and it can get boring sometimes. But staying hydrated is crucial, and the results are awesome!
Why is water good for us?
When you stay hydrated, your skin looks and feels better. It maintains it’s elasticity better and it’s smoother, and less prone to become dry and flaky. Water flushes toxins from your body, so you feel better. Did you know that often if you are feeling tired it may be a lack of water? Water can help you feel less hungry, so you will binge less during the day, and will be inclined to eat a little less at meal times. Your body needs water to work well, it helps transport nutrients around your body, you need it to absorb certain nutrients, and it makes it easier for your heart to pump blood around your body. Your cells all need to be hydrated in order be working at their best. Water is so important that you cannot go without water for more than 3 days, depending on the circumstances.
How much do we really need?
I honestly don’t think we all need 6-8 glasses of water, everyone is different, but it’s a good rule of thumb. If you don’t want to read about pee, skip to the next paragraph now, and don’t look at the picture… Your urine is supposed to be almost clear. If it’s completely colourless, you may be drinking a little too much. I’ve added in the little chart below for clarity on what I mean. I know it’s cringe worthy, but at least we know for sure now :p
Upping your water intake:
It’s important to note that beverages like coffee, tea and juice will also hydrate you, so it’s not that you will be dehydrated if you only drink these, although caffeine does have a slight diuretic effect, making you run to the loo more often. But we need to live a little, I won’t give up my coffee and hot chocolate for anything! The thing is though, that your body does need pure water, or at least water not filled with milk, sugar and other such things more. This will help your body get rid of the toxins that build up better. So try to drink water more than other beverages. Alcohol unfortunately, doesn’t count at all. Alcohol dehydrates you as the diuretic effect is very strong, so the alcohol, and anything else you drink afterwards, comes right back out again.
But never fear, there are things you can do to make things a more little interesting, or if you are like me and just tend to get cold and don’t want to drink cold things when you are cold, here are a few suggestions that may help:
- Herbal teas– without sugar or milk. These are great for getting in water when its cold, and they are full of healthy antioxidants too.
- Flavoured teas- Once again, without sugar or milk. Often flavoured teas have natural flavours in them that don’t use sugar, such as mint, cinnamon or ginger. They can be delicious and if the flavouring is legit, that fruit, herb or spice will put even more health benefits in your cup. You can even brew your own flavoured teas.
- Iced tea- without milk or sugar. Basically, try not to use milk or sugar in any of your healthy drinks meant for the purpose of being healthy. Be careful of brands you buy in stores, as they may have a lot of sugar in them. You can just as easily make yourself some at home, flavoured with fruits, spices and herbs. Lemon and peach are my favourites.
- Water with fruit- putting some fruit in your water is a lovely way of flavouring your water. There are a bunch of ideas and recipes out there. I haven’t tried many, mainly just the flat tummy water with ginger, lemon and mint, which was quite nice, but when summer rolls around again, I want to give some more recipes a go. One bit of advise, don’t keep the lemon in too long, they pack a punch in the flavour department.
But how do we remember to drink water?
- Keep a water bottle on your desk so that it’s easy to reach and it when you see it you will remember to take a few sips.
- You can get apps with reminders that buzz when you need to take water. This was not my favourite method, but it worked.
- Drink a glass of water before or with each meal, if you eat three meals a day, that’s already 3 glasses of water. If you drink water before your snacks too if you eat snacks, you may get 4-6 glasses in a day, just doing this.
- Be sure to drink water before, during and after your workouts.
Is there such a thing as too much?
Yes, there actually is. It’s quite hard to do this, so don’t worry too much, but it can happen. If you drink too much water too quickly, you can get what’s called Hyponatremia or water intoxication. This means that you dilute the sodium in your body too much. Sodium has been given a bad rap because of it’s affect on blood pressure, but you do still need some sodium. Hyponatremia can be very serious. A glass of water, or even 500ml in one go probably won’t cause a problem, but listen to your body. Don’t drink more than is necessary to hydrate. The hydration chart I added will give you a good idea of what to look for in the loo, it’s a good way to keep track of your hydration levels. Don’t drink more that you sweat out and if you are an athlete, especially when it comes to endurance sports where you will feel very thirsty, drinking sports drinks can be helpful as they contain electrolytes (including sodium). It’s a common misconception that sports drinks are useless. In cases where they warrant it, such as sports or when you perhaps have a bad tummy bug, they are often more hydrating than water.
Getting in enough water can be easy and fun. Looking at the pictures of lovely jugs and glasses of water with fruit makes me really excited for summer! They look really beautiful and would be great for when friends and family come over for a do, or just when I am sitting at home and pretending to be fancy :p I hope these ideas have helped. Let me know what your favourite fruit water recipes are, I will definitely give them a go. Stay healthy and hydrated, and enjoy all the awesomeness that comes with it 🙂
P.S. I have released an ebook, it’s called Health for newbies. Just a simple guide to healthy living. It’s available on quite a few of the ebook stores, and is on the summer winter sale on Smashwords until the end of July at 50% off. Use this coupon code if you would like to purchase a copy, or give it to a friend or family member if you think they would be interested: SSW50
American Heart Association; Shaw Academy Sports Nutrition manual; Web MD