We’ve all been there. We buy a new shiny reusable bottle and set the goal to drink one litre of water a day. Who knows, maybe we’ll aim for two if we’re feeling adventurous. Though, these intentions soon fade in favour of caffeinated or sugary beverages. We’re aware that we should drink more water, but do we really know why? Understanding why, might just help with that motivation. Water plays a vital role in a number of our physiological processes. Here’s a breakdown for you.
Cellular Function: The body is composed of approximately 60% water, which acts as a means of transporting substances within and between cells, necessary for processes like respiration and metabolism.
Temperature Regulation: Water has a high heat capacity, meaning it can absorb and release heat without significant changes in temperature. Body temperature is also regulated through sweat, our natural cooling mechanism.
Joint Lubrication: Water creates a cushioning effect in the joints and surrounding tissues, which allows them to move without friction.
Digestive Health: Water plays an essential role in the absorption of nutrients, transporting vitamins and minerals across the intestinal lining into the bloodstream. On the other end of the spectrum, it helps to remove waste and toxins from the body through the digestive system. Proper hydration ensures the digestive organs function as they should, helping to maintain the right pH levels.
Cognitive Function: Our level of hydration even affects how we respond to new information and challenges, as dehydration can lead to a decline in cognitive flexibility. Water intake supports the production and release of neurotransmitters, which are essential for brain function and wellbeing. The neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, for example, play a crucial role in mood regulation and motivation.
Water has also been shown to aid weight loss. In a controlled trial, participants were split into two groups and followed a healthy diet for three weeks. While one group consumed 500ml of water prior to each meal, the other group did not. The results showed that across the trial the water group lost a greater amount of weight than the non-water group.
What's more, both groups were told to aim for 10,000 steps a day, which the water group had greater success in achieving. This may be due to mild dehydration in the non-water group as often we’re consuming less than enough water without even noticing.
So, How Much Water Should You Drink a Day?
The recommended water intake depends on the individual. Factors affecting your levels of hydration include your activity level, as you’ll lose water through sweat, diet, outside temperature and age. However, on average, experts recommend consuming eight ounce glasses, which totals around 2 litres.
Two litres may sound like a lot, but here are a few tips to help increase your water intake:
- Sip throughout the day - rather than drinking a large amount at once, try to drink consistently throughout the day, that way it’ll be easier to slowly up your intake.
- Hydrate before you exercise - this will help to prepare your body for the water lost through sweat.
- Make it easy for yourself - creating new habits can be hard, so make it easy, whether that be through buying a reusable water bottle you can refill throughout the day or leaving a bottle in the car so there’s always one to hand.
- Use water as a replacement - try opting for water instead of a caffeinated or sugary drink. We get it, water isn’t quite as tasty, but you can make it more enjoyable by flavouring the water, adding citrus or fruit.