Whether it is a heatwave, a cold snap or just an ordinary day, we all need to make sure we drink enough water. How much is enough, why do we need it and are other liquids just as good?
The human body is about 60% water, and it is vital for all our life functions. The body uses water for growth and repair, for digestion and for waste elimination. It is also critical for temperature regulation, via sweating and breathing. None of us would last more than a couple of days without water.
The famous ‘6-8 glasses a day’ is a little vague, as there is no definition of the size of the glass. In normal UK weather conditions the guideline is about 1.2 litres of fluid daily. Ideally that fluid is water, although tea, coffee and low-sugar drinks also count. Exercise, hot weather, illness and alcohol all increase your need for water. We also get water from our food, with raw fruit and lightly cooked vegetables being good sources.
The best way to gauge input is to monitor output. If your urine is pale yellow then you are drinking enough. Infrequent and dark yellow urine is a sign that you need to get more fluid in, fast.
It is possible to drink too much water, although for most people that is an unlikely scenario. If you are somewhere really hot and have been drinking lots of fluid, a little extra salt on your food will balance things out.
If you have been exercising hard for an hour or more, you may have lost some minerals in your sweat. Sports drinks usually contain these, but there is little that you can’t get from a post-workout banana or similar. Sports drinks also contain sugar and are pricier than filling a bottle from the tap.
In most circumstances the answer is simple. Drink your water.
the thing about salt is relevant, or was in the heatwave. I did a half-marathon on a very hot day and had a sudden craving for a packet of crisps. Not normal health food but it really made me feel better, I'd drunk lots of water but had not balanced things out.
simple - I like that! I find the sports drinks way too sweet anyway, so good to hear that good old H2O is the answer.