Hydration: “You’re Not Sick, You Need Water!”

Siboniso Mawandla | The Republic Mail

By Nompumelelo Nkosi

I know people who say they don’t like water because it “tastes bad”, as if there is such a thing. There is no excuse as to why you’re not drinking enough water but what you need to know is you need water in your body and it is highly important that you stay hydrated to stay healthy and energised. How about you substitute soda with water or fresh juice?

Your body depends on water to survive. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to work properly. For instance, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste, and lubricate your joints. Water is needed for overall good health, family doctor explains.

There is a lot of confusion about hydration and how much fluid we should be drinking. When the scientific community talk about ‘water’ they are often talking about the nutrient water, which you can get from both the fluids we drink and the food we eat. This does of course include drinking water.

It is important to know dehydration symptoms. Little or no urine, urine that is darker than usual, dry mouth, sleepiness or fatigue, extreme thirst, headache, confusion, dizziness or lightheartedness and no tears when crying. Dehydration is accompanied by pain too as hunger. Chronic joint pain, headaches and gastric ulcers can often mean dehydration.

Water is needed to carry acidic waste away from cells, and when we’re dehydrated, these wastes don’t get carried away, leading to our nerves interpreting the acidic waste as pain. You need to pay attention to the signs your body shows. You may not be sick or tired or hungry (thirst can be confused as hunger) but you just need fluid in your body.

Different people need different amounts of water to stay hydrated. Most healthy people can stay well hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty. For some people, fewer than 8 glasses may be enough. Other people may need more than 8 glasses each day.

If you are concerned that you are not drinking enough water, check your urine. If your urine is usually colorless or light yellow, you are well hydrated. If your urine is a dark yellow or amber color, you may be dehydrated. Do not wait to notice the signs, take control and drink a lot of water to prevent dehydration.

Water is best for staying hydrated. Other drinks and foods can help you stay hydrated. However, some may add extra calories from sugar to your diet. Water can also be found in fruits and vegetables (for example, watermelon, tomatoes, and lettuce), and in soup broths.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends an intake of 2.5 litres of water for men and 2.0 litres of water for women per day, via food and drink consumption. As of this day, they suggest that 70-80% of the daily water intake should come from drinks, and the remaining 20-30% should come from food.

If staying hydrated is difficult for you, here are some tips from Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, author of Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, that can help:

  • Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. To reduce your costs, carry a reusable water bottle and fill it with tap water.
  • If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to your drink.
  • Drink water before, during, and after a workout.
  • When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. Thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water. Drinking water may also contribute to a healthy weight-loss plan. Some research suggests that drinking water can help you feel full.
  • If you have trouble remembering to drink water, drink on a schedule. For example, drink water when you wake up, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and when you go to bed. Or, drink a small glass of water at the beginning of each hour.
  • Drink water when you go to a restaurant. It will keep you hydrated, and it’s free.

Remember your body makes half of your body weight. Keep that in mind.