Water makes up two thirds of our body! You can’t survive without water. So it’s vital to drink enough fluid to maintain good health and avoid urinary tract infections, headaches, constipation, dizziness and confusion, kidney stones, pressure ulcers and more.

Water has a wide range of benefits for your body, everything from removing waste products in urine to lubricating your joints, and keeps your skin healthy.

Water transports nutrients and oxygen around your body, gets rid of waste products, controls your temperature, and aids the function of your digestive system.

Symptoms of dehydration include pain when urinating (UTIs), dry lips and eyes, thirst, dizziness, headaches, tiredness, lack of concentration, not passing urine for eight hours, a weak pulse, a rapid pulse, seizures, and a low level of consciousness.

You should drink plenty of fluids such as water, diluted squash and fruit juice to stay hydrated. The key is to drink regularly throughout the day. Most people need about 1.5 to 2 litres of fluid a day, which is about 8 – 10 glasses.

Water in food also counts; fruit and vegetables contain lots of water. Cucumber and lettuce have the highest water content of any food at 96%, tomatoes have 94%. Keep your hydration levels topped up by adding them to a salad or a sandwich.

Water-rich fruits also include grapes, watermelon, kiwi, and oranges. Water-rich vegetables also include iceberg lettuce, and celery. 

The exact amount of fluid you need depends on things like:

• Your age – this affects how well your body is able to balance water and salts, and as you get older you store less water

• The amount of physical activity you do – you need to drink more if you exercise more

• The climate – you need to drink more if it’s hot and you’re sweating water out of your body

• If you’re pregnant – you’re more likely to develop constipation during pregnancy so you need to drink more

• Your diet – if you’re following a special diet or very low-calorie diet, you need to drink more

What to drink:

• Water is the best choice to meet your body’s needs for fluids. It doesn’t have any calories and is free from the tap. Dilute squash or fruit juices, and make teas to top up your fluid levels.

• Coconut water is rich in the mineral potassium, contains sodium, chloride, natural sugars, and antioxidants.

• Fruit juice and smoothies contain lots of vitamins. One glass (150ml) can make up one of your five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Try using crushed ice to thicken smoothies rather than yoghurt or milk. 

• Tea and coffee both contain caffeine, which is a mild diuretic increasing the amount of urine produced. It is recommended to only take in 400mg of caffeine a day, which is about three cups of coffee or four cups of tea. Pregnant women should stop at 200mg a day. Try herbal teas or decaffeinated alternatives.

Now it is possible to drink too much water. The reason it can be dangerous is that it can cause the level of salt in your blood to drop too low; a condition called hyponatraemia. If your urine looks really pale, you might be drinking more than you need.

Bonus though is that water can help you lose weight! Water can increase satiety and boost the metabolic rate by 24-30% for up to 1.5 hours.

Drinking water half an hour before meals is the most effective. It can make you feel more full, and cold water will encourage the body to use additional energy (calories) to heat the water to body temperature.

In summary:

• Losing as little as 2% of your body’s water content can significantly impair physical performance.

• Mild dehydration (fluid loss of 1-3%) can impair energy levels and mood, lead to major reductions in memory and brain performance.

• Drinking water can help relieve headaches, prevent constipation, and decrease the risk of kidney stone formation.

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