Did you know that?… Water is the single largest additive of the human body, making up 50 to 80 per cent. It plays a major role in most bodily functions. Proper hydration is essential for your heart.
Your heart is pumping blood through your body over and over again. Beating on average 72 times a minute, it pumps around 7,600 litres every day. Staying well hydrated helps your heart do its job and more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to your muscles. This then helps your muscles work better.
If you are dehydrated, the amount of blood circulating through your body lowers. Your heart will then try to compensate by beating faster, which then increases your heart rate. This places strain on your heart as it needs to work harder than normal.
They say that drinking water may boost mental performance, boost your mood and may boost physical performance. So how much water should we drink every day? Each individual’s needs are individual to them and depend on their health, age, size and weight as well as activity levels, the type of job they do and the climate they live in. Drinking a little and often is the best way to stay hydrated. In the UK, the NHS Eatwell Guide informs you should aim for 6-8 glasses of water and other liquids each day to replace normal water loss – around 1.2 to 1.5 litres.
Water, milk, sugar-free drinks and tea and coffee all count, but remember that caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee can make the body produce urine much more quicker. Fruit juice and smoothies also count, but because they contain ‘free’ sugars (the type we are told to cut back on), you should limit these to a combined total of 150ml per day.
Basically, it should be controlled by your own thirst. Lengthy physical activity and exposure to heat can increase your fluid or water needs. It is all a case of balance. The more water you use or lose, the more you should replace it to be in water balance.
You should aim to drink one and a half times the fluid you lost while exercising, spread out over the following several hours. This is because you continue to lose fluid through sweating and urination for some time afterwards.
It is also possible to go the other way and drink too much water. Hyponatraemia is a condition caused by too much water which causes sodium levels to fall dangerously low. Athletes who take part in endurance events and take on too much fluid may be at risk of this condition.
A few tips on how to increase your water intake include –
- Carry a water bottle with you or leave one at your desk/workspace.
- Use an app to track your water intake.
- Add freshly cut fruit to your water jug or bottle for some flavour.
- Set reminders on your phone to have a glass of water.
- Keep an easily accessible jug of water in your fridge.
- Switch one of your tea/coffee breaks to water instead.
- Tie it into a routine. Drink a glass of water every time you brush your teeth, eat a meal or use the bathroom
- Drink one glass of water before each meal