As winter approaches, I know that I find it harder to remember to drink the recommended 1.5-2 litres of water a day. The thirst I have during warm summer days is nowhere to be seen, and if I’m not careful I can go a whole day only drinking a glass or two. Does this sound familiar?
Why do we need to stay hydrated?
With 50-60% of our body weight made up of water, keeping well hydrated is essential. It’s easy to overlook, but take a minute to consider the following key roles it plays in the body:
- Transporting nutrients within the body
- Keeping stools soft, preventing constipation
- Helping remove toxins and other waste products from body
- Regulating body temperature
- Maintaining mucous membranes of the body such as those within the intestinal tract and lungs
- Acting as a lubricant – within synovial fluid in joints, tears, saliva etc.
Too important to ignore for long, right?!
How do you know you’re not drinking enough?
Signs that you might need to increase your liquid intake include mild symptoms such as headaches, thirst (although this is not reliable), fatigue and brain fog. Long term under-hydration may be responsible for dry skin, constipation, irritability and low blood pressure among others. Water consumed is lost through our urine, sweat and breath, with more being lost in hotter weather and when exercising.
A simple way of telling whether you are taking in enough water is by the colour of your urine. If it is straw-coloured or paler, then chances are you are drinking enough. Any darker and it might be worth adding another couple of glasses to your day’s intake. NHS Inform has a handy guide if you need to check the colour.
You may have seen conflicting advice about whether caffeine-containing drinks such as tea and coffee can count towards your water intake, with different studies coming to different conclusions. As these drinks are known to have diuretic properties, it is thought that they might increase urine-output and therefore contribute towards dehydration. To be on the safe side, I recommend counting one cup of caffeinated tea or coffee as part of your daily amount, but try to ensure the rest comes from water or herbal teas.
Tips to keep drinking throughout the day
And how to remember? A few simple tips include:
- Keeping a bottle on your desk or in an obvious place at home to sip throughout the day
- Taking a large glass of water to bed with you, ready to drink on waking
- Setting an alarm at 90 minute intervals throughout the day, drinking a glass of water each time it goes off
- Using an app on your phone to log water consumption and set reminders
So, this winter, why not make keeping hydrated a priority? I know that I will be.