Simply put, we can’t function without water.
It makes up roughly 70 percent of our body weight, approximately two-thirds of our brain weight, and our blood, muscles, and lungs are all composed of water. It regulates our body temperature, moves nutrients through our body, and delivers oxygen to our cells—all while removing waste and protecting our joints and organs. And as if that wasn’t enough, water plays such an important role in our health that without it a person can only live a few days.
HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED?
The average female between the ages of nine and 18 needs approximately nine eight-ounce glasses each day, more if you’re very physically active or drinking coffee or alcohol. Make sure you’re getting enough: do the urine test. If it’s fairly clear and non-offensive to the nose, chances are you’re drinking as much as you need.
Tip: Still not sure how much you should drink? Check out www.bottledwater.org and try their hydration calculator.
ARE YOU DEHYDRATED?
So you’re thirsty. But is that the only way of knowing you’re lacking in the H2O department? “By the time you start to feel thirsty, you’ve already lost about 2 percent of your body water,” says registered dietitian Marilyn Booth. Other signs of dehydration: you feel tired, lightheaded, have muscle or joint pain, and are experiencing headaches and infrequent urination.
Tip: Because dehydration can lead to poor mental and physical performance, and causes stress on your heart, kidneys, and other organs, Booth suggests drinking a glass and a half of water with every meal, plus another four or five eight-ounce glasses throughout the day until you meet your goal.
TAP vs. BOTTLED
So long as you’re drinking enough, does it really matter what source you choose?
Tap: It’s definitely the cheapest and most accessible option, and because it’s monitored to meet safety standards on many levels, tap water is a healthy bet. If you’re still concerned about what’s coming out of your faucet, invest in a home filtering system, which can target any specific issues, depending on where you live.
Bottled: We all love the convenience of stashing a bottle for moments of need, but just because this water comes wrapped in plastic doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better than eau de tap. While bottled water is regulated and adheres to filtration guidelines, it doesn’t have the same strict standards as tap water, and studies have found some varieties can contain more bacteria.
CAN YOU O.D?
Yes, there is such a thing as drinking too much water, and yes, it can happen to you. The good news? It doesn’t happen easily and known cases are rare.
When water is dangerous: Hyponatremia (a.k.a. water intoxication) can take place when you’ve drunk upwards of three litres at once. So much water causes your blood’s sodium and mineral levels to dip and your brain to swell, and may cause a coma or even death.
Signs you’ve drunk too much: you feel weak, sluggish, and have little control over body movements. If any of the above apply, call 911 immediately.
OUTSIDE THE GLASS
Let’s face it—even with good intentions, it’s not easy to down two litres of water each day. Thankfully, there are heaps of other sources to get it from. Here are a few (from the most to the least amount of water):
2) Sports drinks
3) Coffee and tea (non-caffeinated versions are better)
5) Fruits and veggies
6) Fruit and vegetable juices (look for ones without added sugar)
Pro Tip: Make your own juices at home with a juicer, look online for vegetable juicer recommendations or fruit/ orange juicer reviews.
DID YOU KNOW?
* It helps digest, absorb, and move nutrients through our bodies.
* It’s a lubricant for joints, and cushions vital organs and tissues.
* It helps the body cool itself.
* It helps get rid of waste.
* It boosts kidney function.
* With the help of fibre, it prevents and relieves constipation.
FLAVOUR OF THE MONTH
A recent arrival to the category, flavoured water is designed for anyone who can’t bear the taste (or lack thereof) of water. But, because it’s sweetened with sugar or sugar substitutes, this water has what mainstream varieties don’t—calories. To keep your calorie intake low, pay attention to nutritional labels, or, do like the health conscious and cut up a slice of lemon, lime, or orange and squeeze its juice into your plain-Jane glass of water.
Written by Liz Bruckner