Ask most adults in the UK how much water they should be drinking and you’d be told “eight glasses a day.” But it’s a myth, believed to be a misinterpretation of some advice given in the 1940s. How can it be true when we are all different sizes, some of us are active and some are sedentary, and the weather may be sweltering or freezing?
Like sleepiness and hunger pangs, thirst is your body’s way of indicating it needs something and really not something to be afraid of.
IT’S THAT EASY? Yes and no. As we age, the thirst mechanism deteriorates so we can’t rely on that as our only indicator. Furthermore, when you are engrossed in some sedentary activity – watching TV, surfing the net – you may not be conscious that you haven’t had anything to drink for a while.
I NEED A CLUE. Dizziness or a headache may be a sign, but more reliable is the colour of your urine. If you realise it has been many hours since you last passed water and when you do go your pee is dark yellow, you are dehydrated.
I PREFER A ROUTINE. A good start is to always take a glass of water to bed with you. This is your early morning reminder to start hydrating. During the rest of the day, if you can barely remember where you put your car keys, keeping track in your head is a strategy designed to fail. As a minimum, a written log by the fridge will help, but using one of the widely available hydration apps is a great discipline and makes it fun too.
JUST PLAIN WATER THEN? Again, another urban myth is that only pure water counts and that simply isn’t true. If you don’t feel you are awake until you’ve had your first cuppa that’s not a bad thing. Despite being slightly diuretic, tea and coffee are both sources of fluid. Your water intake doesn’t have to come from ‘water’. That is, fruit and vegetables, soups, milk and soft drinks all have a high percentage of fluid in them.
MY WATER TASTES LIKE A SWIMMING POOL. Tap water really is fine to drink, but in many hard water areas a slight aroma and taste of chlorine will be enough to put you off, and that in itself will reduce your intake.
Of course, you can buy it in bottles. Better for the planet and the wallet are water filters and there’s a huge choice and plenty of articles online comparing the options. One innovative idea comes from a Scottish company called Phox (www.phoxwater.com). Their jug features a refillable cartridge that is designed to last the life of the jug, not just 30 days. The water filtration granules expire after 45 days, when you’ll simply open the filter, clean it out and pour in the new refill pack.
CHEERS! TOP ME UP. Indeed, but a final word of warning. It’s just as important not to overdo it. Over-hydration, known as hyponatremia, can be lethal.