Our body is 60% water and it’s essential for us to maintain adequate water levels.
Through daily activities, an average person loses approximately 3-4litres of water a day. And this can be higher if you do a lot of physical activity. We lose a lot of water through breathing, urination, sweat and bowel movements alone. This lost water needs to be replenished.
Drinking water is also beneficial in improving our body functions. We will talk about these benefits towards the end of the article.
Before we get to how we can make it a regular practice to drink enough water, lets first clear the 2 outdated facts about drinking water.
Caffeine vs drinking water
Outdated Fact: Avoid caffeine and drink only water
If you can balance your water intake, there is no need to avoid caffeine.
Caffeine is known to boost your metabolism and helps improve concentration. A moderate quantity of about 250-300 milligrams of caffeine, has not shown any evidence of dehydration in the body.
Coffee, on the other hand, is known to have inflammation-fighting antioxidants.
So, no need to avoid your morning tea or coffee. Just ensure moderation.
How much water to drink
Outdated Fact: You Should Drink 8 Glasses of Water A Day.
For many years, health professionals have been recommending to drink 8 glasses or 2lts of water a day. Though it’s just a recommendation and how much water you should drink, depends on your body type, lifestyle, size and many other factors.
Drinking 2-2.5Lts of water is good but you should drink whenever you feel thirsty. Keeping yourself hydrated is more important than forcing to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day. Too much water may lead to negative health implications.
So, we just need to consume an optimal amount of water that keeps us hydrated. In the hush of daily life, we tend to forget this small but important body requirement. Here are some effective ways to build habits to improve water intake. You can choose 3-4 of them that suit you best.
Simple habits to keep you hydrated and increase water intake
Measure and increase your targets slowly
Measuring is the first step to set your targets and reach them. Remember to not push yourself for a sudden jump in your water consumption. Let the body adapt to changes gradually. First increase the intake, by say 0.5 lts. Do it for 7-10 days and increase it further when you are comfortable at that level.
Carry a water bottle along, always!
This helps a lot. We get busy with our daily chores and meetings and start ignoring when our body calls for water.
Keeping a bottle comes handy and also reminds you to sip water whenever you feel even slightest thirsty.
Remember to fill the bottle as soon as it gets empty. This way, you will be able to measure the intake properly.
Make water taste better, Infuse it with fruits and herbs
Infusing water with juicy fruits and herbs has added benefits. An infuser bottle is a good investment. Adding fruits like cucumber, lemon, orange, strawberry, papaya, melons, make water even more refreshing.
Replace fizzy drink or fruit juices with infused water. It helps you maintain blood sugar level.
A good way is to leave few slices of cucumber and lemon overnight in a big pot of water. Consume this throughout the day.
Use reminders, like notes or water reminder apps
If busy days at work make you forget the practice, stick notes around your work area, or on the back of your laptop.
If you are a phone bug, there are lots of apps to remind you to drink water. But if you don’t like your phone beeping every hour, it’s better to use notes.
Eat water-rich foods and fruits
Water is not only consumed by drinking, the foods that we eat also contain a lot of water. A good way to keep hydrated is to include these foods in your diet. Melons, oranges, papaya and all the green vegetables, contain a great amount of water. Do include them in each of your meals.
Add ice if you like
Ayurveda teaches to drink warm water, as it’s easier for the body to absorb. There is another theory that supports cold water as it kicks our metabolism.
There is actually no evidence that supports that body reacts to different temperatures of water differently.
So, bottom line is, just drink water however you like it. If you just don’t like warm or room temperature water, adding a bit of ice will only help you consume an optimal quantity of water.
Have a water buddy
Many of us perform better when we work in teams and there is someone to challenge us. If you are one of them, have a colleague or friend to participate in the challenge of increasing water intake. Remind and motivate each other to reach targets.
Practices to follow while drinking water
The best way to drink water sitting, and not standing
This is something most of us miss out quite regularly. When you stand and drink, the water doesn’t get enough time to retain in the body and directly gets to kidneys. This way, our body doesn’t get enough time to absorb water minerals.
Standing and drinking also cause a lot of fluid accumulation in the joints, causing arthritis.
The similar effects are generated when we drink too much, too fast. Sipping water is more beneficial than gulping a lot of water in a single instance.
By sitting and sipping water slowly, we allow better absorption of water in our organs, leading to better food digestion. Also, our kidneys get to pace the filtration process.
1 glass first thing in the morning
Drinking a glass of water shortly after waking up, kicks in your metabolism.
While we are asleep, our body’s metabolic functions slow down due to no fluids in our body for about 7-8hrs. That’s why, before we stress our body with any food or drink, we need to kick-start our metabolism with water.
Drinking water in the morning also helps in flushing all the toxins in the body and cleanses intestines.
Know when you are thirsty and drink
Your body signals you when it needs water. The dark color of your urine is an indicator of dehydration, while a clear urine shows a good hydration level of the body.
Dry chapped lips is another cue for you to drink water.
Listen to your body and drink as soon as you feel thirsty.
Use a glass or copper or silver container/bottle
Drinking from plastic bottles is extremely health hazardous. Plastic bottles contain BPA (Bisphenol A)which contaminates the liquid inside them.
Experts advise BPA free bottles. Do check for BPA codes. Only bottles or containers with 4 or 5 BPA codes are safe for reuse.
I prefer to use glass or copper bottles, since even BPA free bottles may not be 100% safe.
Avoid drinking too much water before going to bed
Strictly avoid drinking too much water before you sleep. This will result in you waking up multiple times in the middle of the night to urinate.
It’s advised to reduce your fluid intake 3 hours before the bedtime, which will allow enough time for your body to process water before you hit the bed.
7 scientific benefits of drinking water
Drinking water has a lot of short term and long term benefits for our body –
Improves performance, prevents cramps and relieves fatigue
You need to be optimally hydrated to perform physical tasks better, especially intense exercises. Water ensures prevention from cramps and also helps to recover from the fatigue caused by workouts.
When you sweat or feel low energy, the body needs more water to fuel you up and keep you fresh.
Higher energy levels and improved brain functions
Dehydration negatively affects our energy level and mood.
Studies have shown that even a loss of 1-3% in hydration level can bring our mood down and restrict us from concentrating on work. Keeping yourself hydrated helps to stay alert and focused at work.
Drinking water before meal promotes weight loss
Drinking water boosts metabolic rate, which helps in weight loss. If you drink 1 glass of water about half an hour before your meal, your hunger gets reduced and you eat less.
Well hydrated skin is healthy skin
Hydrated skin feels better moisturized, fresh, soft, glowing and smooth. Water improves skin health and procrastinates wrinkles. It’s the best anti-aging treatment around!
Improves digestion and prevents constipation
Increasing water intake cures infrequent bowel movement and eases passing stool. Drinking more fluids is a recommended treatment for constipation.
Keeping hydrated reduces chances of having headaches. It also helps to reduce the intensity of the pain. Though, how much water can help, depends on the severity of the migraine.
Drinking water during alcohol consumption prevents the hangover
Alcohol is diuretic and makes you lose a lot water, leaving you dehydrated.
Dehydration doesn’t directly cause hangovers, but it induces symptoms like thirst, fatigue, headache and dry mouth.
It’s advised to consume 1-2 glasses of water for every alcoholic beverage.
Water is the cheapest, most readily available and most beneficial fluid to our body. So, drink to feel better in all possible ways.