I was pondering what to write this week’s blog about and as I was filling up the dog bowl it occurred to me that water would be a good topic. Especially as it’s lovely and hot at the moment and you are all hopefully having plenty of the wet stuff (drinking it as well as filling up the paddling pool!).
Water is a really important nutrient but often gets overlooked in that respect. We can survive without food for weeks, but without water no more than a day. We are actually like sinks without a plug in it. We need to have the tap on all the time! Water makes up 50-70% of our bodies. It ensures our bodies remain a suitable environment for chemical reactions – such as digestion for example. It fills the spaces in and between cells and helps form structures of large molecules such as protein and glycogen. It helps our kidneys to function normally and assists in the removal of waste products (oh what a posh way to say going for a wee).
I’m sure you’ve heard that we should be having between 1.5l and 2l of water a day. Did you know that there is actually a breakdown of how much water we should be having exactly? We should be consuming 1ml of water for every calorie we burn. So if you are having 2000 calories a day (the recommended intake for a man) – then you should be having 2l of water a day. The NHS suggests that we drink 6-8 glasses (around 1.2l) of water a day. So where does this discrepancy come from? 20-30% of our water intake actually comes from food itself, therefore the 1.2l of water to drink. But of course your water requirement will depend on how much you exercise (and how hot it is!).
You might have heard (or read some sensational headline somewhere) that you can have too much water. And that is true. But it is rare. You literally have to drink your whole daily intake in an hour or two. It can cause the level of salt, or sodium, in your blood to drop too low. That’s a condition called hyponatremia. It’s very serious, and can be fatal. You may hear it called water intoxication. So be sensible! Sip your water and have your 1.5l a day. If you are running a marathon, have water, but again be sensible. Have a little at a time. Have water when you are thirsty and then stop. Don’t try and stay ahead of the thirst.
The Association of UK Dieticians advises that thirst is only part of the way we regulate hydration in the body. When you drink you stop you feeling thirsty before your body is completely rehydrated. The colour of urine is the best indicator; if you are drinking enough your urine should be a straw or pale yellow colour. If it’s clear you might be drinking too much. So keep an eye on your wee! 🙂
Good clean water is best, whether tap or bottled, but of course tea, coffee, juice are fluids and with this a source of water to our body. But they have other items in them such as sugar that might not be so good for you. And they could contain calories (like hot chocolate for example) that you then need water to offset. Try sticking to pure stuff as much as possible – I hated water on it’s own. But I switched from squash to water when I did the C9 and FIT15 at the beginning of the year just to cut out the empty calories and enjoy more food. And now it’s normal to just have water. I prefer to drink out of a bottle, but am quite happy with tap water in the bottle. If you really don’t like it, how about spicing it up with a slice of lemon, cucumber, orange or a sprig of mint? I have a large jug of water on my desk at work all the time with ‘pimped’ water. A dash of apple juice in a pint of water is also very nice – for some reason apple juice flavours water better than any other juice and isn’t as sugary as a squash. Herbal teas are a great source of water when you are after something hot (without sugar or honey preferably). What is your favourite water additive? I know what my friend Maike would be saying here – hops and barley… 🙂