Everyone seems to have a vague idea but is anyone ever really sure? Can we replace water with coffee, beer, wine and fruit juices? Let’s try and find out some answers…
Our bodies are made up of about 60% water give or take. We lose water when we exercise, sweat and go to the bathroom. So, it is important to drink enough water to prevent dehydration and ensure you don’t lose too much of it. Simply losing 1-2% of our bodies water can bring on dehydration symptoms, such as headaches and loss of concentration.
The NHS recommends that we should be drinking at least “six to eight glasses” of fluid every day to stop us from getting dehydrated. But of course, if the weather is particularly hot, cold or we are exercising then we need more than this. Drinking water, tea, coffee, fruit juices and smoothies all count towards your fluid consumption.
The British Nutrition Foundation recommends similar advice to this. In that we should drink little and often, but not just when we feel thirsty. As depending on factors such as our age and health, our thirst sensation may not always be reliable, meaning we may in fact become dehydrated without being aware of it.
There is the unofficial advice of the “8 x 8 rule”: drink eight glasses of eight ounces of water a day, which works out at about 2 litres, on top of any other drinks. This may be something you have heard yourself and no one is quite certain where it originated from. Most likely it was a misinterpretation of old guidelines, stating that you should drink six to eight glasses a day of water a day but this could include fruits, vegetables, soft drinks and even beer, as they all contain large amounts of water.
Do whatever makes you and your body feel good
Most experts do agree that we don’t need to target a specific amount of water every day. As our water requirements vary depending on our: age, gender, size, activity levels and environment.
In essence if we are thirsty then we should drink, just like if we are hungry then we should eat and if we are tired then we should sleep. Just listen to your body and do whatever it is asking.
But if you find you not always in tune to what your body is asking, then aiming for 1.5 to 2 litres of water a day and altering it depending on your activity levels and the weather can be a good approach.
British Nutrition Foundation: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/life/dehydrationelderly.html