• Optimal Lifestyle

The importance of drinking water

We are used to being told by health professionals to drink more water with the general guidelines being to aim to drink 8 glasses or 1.5-2 litres of water daily, but why?

The following points are 5 reasons why drinking water is so important:

  1. Physical performance

  2. Impaired energy levels and brain function

  3. Prevention and treatment of headaches

  4. Relief from constipation

  5. Weight loss aid

1. Staying hydrated ensures optimal physical performance. Losing as little as 2% of your body’s water will have a noticeable affect on athletic performance. Even minor dehydration can result in altered body temperature control, reduced motivation and increased fatigue. Muscle is approximately 80% water, so maintaining hydration may also reduce oxidative stress. This is the imbalance between free radical activity and anti-oxidant activity. Free radicals can fight off pathogens which otherwise lead to infection, over time resulting in diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s as well as cancer, and also contribute to ageing.

2. A loss of 1-3% of body weight through dehydration can impair many aspects of brain function. Fluid loss has been shown to be associated with increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue, impaired mood and concentration as well as being detrimental to working memory.

3. Headaches and migraine are some of the most common symptoms of dehydration. Drinking water can help relieve headache symptoms and the frequency of headaches/migraines occurring.

4. Increased fluid intake is often recommended to treat constipation. Water content in the gut helps soften stools and stimulates bowel movements maintaining healthy digestion, reducing bloating and lowering the risk of bowel cancer.

5. Water can increase your metabolic rate, which is the rate at which your body burns calories, therefore making it a more efficient fat-burning machine. Drinking water when you think you may be hungry can help satisfy your appetite meaning you are less likely to overeat. If you are looking to lose weight, try drinking half a litre of water 30 minutes before each mealtime to aid satiety and assist weight loss.

Signs of dehydration to be aware of:

  1. Feeling thirsty

  2. Dark yellow, strong-smelling urine

  3. Dizziness/feeling lightheaded

  4. Feeling tired

  5. Dry mouth, lips and eyes

  6. Passing urine fewer than 4 times daily.

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