Water is the most abundant and important substance found on Earth and in the human body, which is at least 60 per cent water.
There is a lot of conjecture when it comes to water and how much we should consume. The old adage says that we should have between 8 to 12 glasses a day. If you consume fruits and vegetables in large quantity you will be glad to know that most fruits are 90 per cent water, whereas if you consume a high protein diet, which primarily consists of animal protein, you will need to increase your water intake.
People also confuse the type of liquids they consume with being well-hydrated. Coffee and tea are diuretics which deplete the body of water and juice. While, soft drinks are so highly concentrated with sugar that the stomach has to borrow water from other parts of the body to break it down.
Alcohol is also a highly concentrated form of sugar and if you are suffering from a hangover the best remedy is water. Spices, salt, sugar and fat also tend to dehydrate the body.
It is best to drink water first thing upon rising in the morning and avoid it just before bed as it can interfere with your sleep. The appropriate amount of water to consume should be such that the urine is clear when discharged.
During exercise, the body loses a lot of water and electrolytes. Many people use energy and sports drinks to replace these electrolytes. But these sports and energy drinks are usually packed with sugar. A healthy alternative is to use coconut water which has all the electrolytes the body needs and is very low in calories. Digestion can also be hindered by drinking during and shortly after meals as the digestive acids become diluted. If you travel frequently and for long flights avoid soft drinks, juices, alcohol and spicy food as it dehydrates the body worsening your jet lag.
The climate also tends to determine how much water we should consume. Extreme temperatures whether hot, cold or humid all play a factor in how well-hydrated our bodies remain. It’s no surprise that we tend to perspire during hot and humid conditions, but the body also loses a lot of water during the colder seasons. The main reason that people experience dry skin during the winter is because the cells lose their moisture due to a lack of water and the dead skin starts to accumulate on the surface causing itching and scratching. If you are stuck without air-conditioning in the summer remove unnecessary clothing while at home and drink water regularly throughout the day. You will notice that the body maintains its temperature without you feeling hot and uncomfortable.
Bathing and showering also plays a part in hydrating the skin and hair. Hot and cold water can destroy the skin and hair; making it preferable to bathe in lukewarm water, just as it is favourable to drink lukewarm water for optimum absorption. The hardness of the water indicates the mineral content of the water and the softness the lack of. For bathing, opt for soft water as it is more forgiving on the skin and hair not to mention that soap and shampoos lather much better. However, when it comes to drinking, it is better to consume hard water due to the mineral content. In fact, distilled water which is demineralised is known for causing mineral deficiencies.
Sweating is the body’s way of regulating temperature and getting rid of toxins. Many people use antiperspirants, deodorants and talcum powder to stop perspiring, as they think it produces bad body odour. It is the bacteria that live on the skin and interact with the sweat that cause body odor, not the sweat itself. It is the restrictive clothing that actually makes us sweat more and smell worse.
Filtered tap water is better than bottled water as bottled water uses chlorine to kill the bacteria, viruses and parasites. However, opt for a Solid Block Carbon filter, rather than Reverse Osmosis as RO systems do tend to waste a lot of water and take much longer to filter. Hot water should not be run through carbon filters as it causes contaminant release. The main contaminants of water are lead, mercury, arsenic, radon and nitrates and it is best to get your water tested regularly to ensure that these contaminants are not present in the water. Storing water is another cause for concern as most people tend to store their water in plastic bottles which are usually made using the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) which causes asthma, diabetes, hormonal, reproductive, mental problems and possible heart disease. A better option is glass or stainless steel bottles.