It’s something we all know we should do, but often fall short of – drinking water.
We all know the NHS recommends 2 litres of water a day, but do we actually know what that means? And do we ever really achieve it?
There are a lot of rumours and myths around how much water we need to consume in a day, so we’ve taken a look once and for all at what we really need to be doing.
Of course, it’s easier said than done so we’ve included some tips to upping your intake and let you know what counts towards your water content.
How much to drink in a day
6-8 glasses (1.2 litres) a day – but remember you get some of this from food.
- 1200 ml
- 1.2 Litres
- 2.1117 Pints
(Image: Digital Vision)
Do tea and coffee count?
- Normal tea and coffee – Yes they do! Despite their caffeine content they do in fact count towards your water tally. They also have health benefits so don’t feel like you have to rule them out. Theyre dehydrating because theyre both diuretic i.e. they make you wee a lot but they contain enough water to make up for this.
Tea and Biscuits (Image: Getty)
- Green tea has also been shown to speed up metabolism and aid weight loss.
- In theory, fruit juice and fizzy drinks do count towards your water intake, but some of them have lots of sugar and calories, which can reduce the health benefits of their extra fluid.
What the scientists have to say
Tap with running water (Image: Getty)
First up, why is everyone so obsessed by water.
It allows you to digest your food, it lubricates everything from your joints to your eyes to your mouth to more intimate parts. Sweating helps the body regulate its temperature. At a cellular level, pretty much every part of the body is essentially suspended in water its also the key to the bodys moving things around. It provides the medium for the body to get rid of toxins and things it doesnt need. In short, if you dont drink water, everything stops, overheats and you die.
In an article for The New York Times, Aaron E. Carroll, Professor of Paediatrics and Assistant Dean for Research Mentoring at Indiana University School of Medicine, writes: “If there is one health myth that will not die, it is this: You should drink eight glasses of water a day.
“It’s just not true.
“There is no science behind it.”
Cardboard box of assorted vegetables (Image: Getty)
- Eating vegetables counts!
He says the original advice was people needed the equivalent of eight glasses of water a day.
However, scientists included the amount of fluid ingested through other food and vegetables, and never intended for people to drink eight glasses of water on top of their daily food and drink.
Spero Tsindos, at La Trobe University in Melbourne, sparked controversy by claiming that eight glasses of water a day is over the top and instead of hydrating our bodys cells, we just pee most of it out.
The best way to tell if you’re drinking enough water
Full bladders are also a turn on (Image: Getty)
The best way to tell if youre drinking enough water is to look at the colour of your pee, says Dr Sarah Brewer.
A pale straw colour shows youre drinking enough if its darker than this, you should aim to drink more.
Don’t count the first wee of the day as it’s naturally darker as you’ve been asleep.
Tired Woman (Image: Getty)
There are also other symptoms that should let you know you’re dehydrated.
Fatigue and tiredness, headaches and poor concentration are earlier signs.
How much is too much?
It’s known as water intoxication.
It’s where a person drinks so much it dilutes the salt in their blood. It can leave you lethargic, light-headed and in extreme cases, it can be fatal. But, this happens very rarely and only tends to occur when people are dehydrated through exercise and they suddenly drink two or three litres in a short space of time.
A new study has highlighted the danger of drinking too much water.
Researcher Dr Michael Farrell, from Monash University in Melbourne said: “If we just do what our body demands us to we’ll probably get it right – just drink according to thirst rather than an elaborate schedule.
“Here for the first time we found effort-full swallowing after drinking excess water which meant they were having to overcome some sort of resistance.
“This was compatible with our notion that the swallowing reflex becomes inhibited once enough water has been drunk.
“There have been cases when athletes in marathons were told to load up with water and died, in certain circumstances, because they slavishly followed these recommendations and drank far in excess of need.”
How to up your drinking – tips
Try to get eight glasses a day (Image: Getty)
- Add flavour to your pitcher of water
- Infuse your drinks if you’re not a fan of water, try lemon or fresh fruit flavours. You can also get bottles that do this for you.
- Drink a glass after every toilet break
- Take a sip before every meal
- Use an app to track your water consumption
- You can get a high tech water bottle
- Dilute sugary drinks with water and ice
- Keep a jug next to you
- Invest in a filter
- Choose sparkling or mineral water over soda drinks
- Eat water-rich foods
- Drinking alcohol? Stick to the one-to-one rule
- Mark how much you need to drink on the side of your bottle – set yourself targets
Can you lose weight drinking water?
Your period and your weight are often linked (Image: Getty)
One of the simplest ways to lose weight is to drink water before eating, according to research carried out in 2010.
A 12-week study, reported to the American Chemical Society, involved 48 people aged 55-75. One group drank two cups of water before each meal and the other didn’t. Water drinkers lost 15.5lbs on average, the others 11lbs.
Dr Brenda Davy, senior author of the survey, said: “We found in earlier studies that middle-aged and older people who drank two cups of water right before eating a meal ate between 75 and 90 fewer calories during that meal.
“In this recent study, dieters who drank water before meals, three times per day, lost about 5lbs more than dieters who did not increase water intake.”
“People should drink more water and less sugary, high-calorie drinks. It’s a simple way to manage weight.”