August 27 marks the start of World Water Week, a global conference held in Stockholm to highlight water use and sustainability issues. Here in the UK, a clean water supply is something many of us take for granted - but what are the health benefits of drinking water?
1. The Government recommends drinking six to eight glasses of fluid every day to avoid dehydration. Our bodies are made up of more than two thirds water and can easily become dehydrated, which happens when we lose more fluid than we take in and can in turn can lead to dizziness, tiredness and headaches. Keeping properly hydrated helps your mind function better, enabling you to think creatively and make good decisions!
2. Water is essential for kidney function, leaving anyone who doesn’t drink enough at risk of kidney stones. These are often passed painlessly when you go to the loo but, sometimes, they can cause a blockage, leading to severe pain in the abdomen or groin or even a urinary tract infection (UTI).
3. Fluids also aid the digestive system, with constipation a miserable consequence of not drinking enough. A good tip is to start your morning with a cup of cooled boiled water with a slice of lemon, to kickstart digestion and set you up well for the day.
4. Water can act as a weight-loss aid within a balanced diet - hooray! It has no calories so won’t pile on the pounds and it also fills you up, leaving you wanting to eat less. Try drinking a glass of water before each meal and see if you notice a difference in how high you pile your plate!
5. That water is good for your skin is a commonly held belief, although there’s actually surprisingly little research to back this up. If your skin is dry, however, drinking plenty of water acts as a moisturiser, while it also flushes away toxins such as dirt and bacteria for a cleaner, healthier appearance.
6. Did you know that muscles need water to exercise - and to recover afterwards! When we exercise, blood and oxygen rush to our muscles, but this process slows without sufficient water, potentially causing muscle pain and spasms. During exercise we sweat and need to replenish these lost fluids with - yes, more water, while afterwards, our muscles need water to repair and restore themselves!
Severe dehydration can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health issue that needs looking into. If you’re feeling extremely thirsty or confused, or you haven’t passed urine for more than eight hours, it’s advisable to see your GP. Having the right type of health insurance can speed up the process if he or she recommends further tests.
Find water plain boring? Adding that slice of lemon or lime can give extra zing, or try sugar-free drinks and lower fat milk. Tea and coffee also count towards your daily intake but, in this case, a spoonful of sugar in your cuppa really won’t help the medicinal effects of water go down!