There also seems to be a large gap in awareness levels between men and women when it comes to the benefits of drinking water. Around 42% of women are aware of the recommended daily intake, while less than one third of men know how much water they should drink every day.
So, here’s a refreshment – er, refresher – on the benefits of drinking water.
How much water should you drink on a daily basis? It depends on how active you are, or how much you sweat. The eight glasses a day rule is easy to remember and is a good general guideline.
Experts recommend keeping in mind that all fluids (except alcohol) can count towards the daily total of eight glasses, although be wary of the sugar you may be ingesting if you’re counting fruit juices and soft drinks!
If you drink enough fluid to satisfy your thirst, and your urine is colourless or light yellow, you’re probably taking in enough water.
Why should you drink water? Apart from helping to prevent health problems, keeping us alert and giving us clear, fresh-looking skin? The following reasons should be enough to make you reach for the tap.
Kidneys Drinking water reduces the risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI) which can become serious if it spreads to the upper urinary tract and kidneys.
Experts also say the leading cause of kidney stones is not drinking enough water. As well as being extremely uncomfortable and inconvenient, kidney stones can increase the risk of chronic kidney disease developing.
Dehydration, which occurs when you use up more fluids than you’re taking in, can lead to an imbalance in the body’s electrolytes (which help carry electrical signals between cells and are controlled by the kidneys). If the kidneys can’t maintain balanced electrolytes, electrical signals can become mixed up and this can lead to loss of consciousness, seizures or involuntary muscle movements.
Brain power If you don’t drink enough water, your brain can be affected. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can have a negative impact on many aspects of brain function.
Fluid loss after exercise can impair concentration and mood, and also lead to headaches. It may also increase feelings of fatigue and anxiety.
Weight loss If you’re trying to shift those last few stubborn pounds, increasing the amount of water you drink (within reason) can help. Water can boost your metabolic rate, while drinking water half an hour before meals can increase feelings of fullness.
Constipation If you suffer from constipation, drinking more water can help. Water consumption allows fibre to work properly in the body, and fibre helps push material through the digestive system, as well as increases stool bulk.
Heart health Your heart needs water if it’s to keep working at full speed. Dehydration leads to thicker blood, making your heart work even harder. Studies have shown that drinking more than five glasses of water every day could decrease your chances of having a heart attack by 41%, compared with people who drank less than two glasses a day.
5 Tips to Increase Water Intake
- Always have a bottle of water handy; keep it on your desk, beside you when cooking or in the car.
- Jazz up your water with fruit or cucumber. This adds flavour without the calories. Ginger or herbs work well too.
- Have a drink (not alcohol!) with every snack and meal you have. If you choose a drink you enjoy, you’ll be more likely to drink more liquids every day. Remember that sugar is addictive and leads to health problems, so choose non-water drinks wisely.
- Fruits and vegetables have a high water content, so eat more every day. Experts say about 20% of our fluid intake comes from food.
- There are many apps to help you monitor your daily water intake. Alternatively, you can set reminders on your phone to make sure you’re drinking enough fluids.
If you are experiencing concern over any health issue, you can talk to an Irish-registered GP today by booking a video consultation