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Drinking enough?

Water: are you getting enough?

We all know that not drinking enough water is bad for you, but it seems drinking too much can be equally bad, according to recent reports. With all these mixed messages it’s hardly surprising that many of us are left wondering how much water is enough.

As most of us know, it’s very important to make sure we are drinking enough because our bodies need water and other fluids to work properly. Water makes up about two-thirds of our body weight. It’s important for this to be maintained because most of the chemical reactions that happen in our cells need water.

Our blood also needs water to carry nutrients around the body as well as to expel toxins. As your body works it produces waste products, some of which are toxic. These are got rid of through the kidneys in urine, and urine is mainly made up of water.

Unfortunately, we lose a lot of this water through evaporation, when we breathe and sweat. As the temperature rises or as we do more activity, this increases the amount of water the body loses. As a result you need to replace the fluids you lose to stay healthy.

In the British climate, we should drink approximately 1.2 litres (six to eight glasses) of fluid a day to stop us becoming dehydrated. In hotter climates the body needs more than this. It’s also worth remembering that we get some fluid from the food we eat.

While it’s not wrong to drink caffeine, its best to avoid too much, particularly when it is very hot or you are in danger of becoming dehydrated. This is because drinks that contain caffeine, such as tea, coffee and cola, can act as mild diuretics, which means they make the body produce more urine. This affects some people more than others, but it also depends on how much caffeine you drink and how often.

It’s fine to drink these sorts of drinks, but we should also try to drink some fluids each day that don’t contain any caffeine. This shouldn’t be too difficult, as there are plenty of options. You don’t just have to stick to plain water. A few drops of fruit juice in a glass of water gives it an instant injection of flavour, while a pure fruit juice or home-made lemonade makes a welcome change from tap water on its own.

However, if you should fall foul of the recommended drinking guidelines, you could find yourself battling dehydration, so it worth remembering the tell-tale signs. One of the first is feeling thirsty. Then you may feel tired and lethargic, which will decrease your capacity for exercise. This is why extra fluid is needed in hot weather or during strenuous activity. For each hour of exercise you should drink an extra litre of fluid. If you have an illness that is causing sickness, diarrhoea or sweating, you will need to up your fluid intake to make up for the extra loss.

If you think you might not be getting enough fluids, check if you are showing any of these other common signs of dehydration:

1. Dark-coloured urine and not passing much when you go to the toilet

2. Headaches

3. Confusion and irritability

4. Lack of concentration

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