The facts you need to know about water consumption

There are all sorts of statements out there about the amount of water we should be drinking each day. You hear statements such as drink 8 glasses of water a day, drink 2 litres a day unless you want to lose weight then drink 3 litres. It’s all a little confusing.

Then there’s the other statement you hear, where individuals avoid drinking too much water because it makes them go to the bathroom or those that drink a glass of water before a meal  to help them lose weight.

Now let’s set this straight. There are 3 facts you need to know about water consumption, some known widely and others not so much. Two are nutrition facts and one is based on a theory that may or may not suit you.

  1. A nutritional fact – You need to consume enough water based on your weight, environment and level of activity
  2. Theory based – Avoid drinking water just before and after meals
  3. A nutritional fact – Understand your body’s unique response to dehydration

Before we dive into these, let’s recap on the role water plays in our body which I covered briefly in the Wellness Myth busters episode…

Water is a fundamental part of the human body, making up over two-thirds of total body weight. It has a fundamental role in the body’s function as water:

  • Regulates body temperature
  • Eliminating waste
  • Supplying a medium in which the majority of chemical reactions within the body occur
  • Aids in swallowing
  • Lubricates cells

Now coming back to the 3 facts

The first the Nutritional fact – You need to consume enough water based on your weight, environment and level of activity

Contrary to the statement drink 8 glasses of water a day, the amount of water required is personalised and depends on various factors such as age, weight, climate (e.g. hot and humid or snowing), work environment (e.g. labourer or desk worker) and additional physical activity levels that you have each day.

The amount of water required would increase for those living in hot and humid environments, who are physically active through their day-to-day lives and for those who participate in regular exercise where excess fluid may be lost through sweat. On the other hand, water requirements may be lower for some individuals such as those who are sedentary or the elderly, who are less active and may consume more water-based foods such as soups and stews. 

Now a Nutritional Advisor would be able to assess your environment, climate and physical activity, as well as your weight to determine the healthy range of water you should be consuming each day. They would also take into account whether you want to lose weight, maintain your weight as well as being healthy based on the influencing factors I listed.

Theory based – Avoid drinking water just before and just after meals

There is research and argument for and against this. But I will say this is something I personally follow and it’s predominantly based on the theory of Ayurveda. So based on Ayurveda, water is to be consumed in small sips between meals and throughout the day but no more than 30 minutes just before and 30 minutes just after a meal. 

According to Ayurveda, drinking water just before meals (that is within 30 minutes of having a meal) actually reduces digestion. And drinking water just after, may cause weight gain.

In saying that, based on some research it has been proven that having a glass or 2 before a meal can help you feel full meaning you may eat less which can support weight loss.  

As you can see there are arguments, theory and research for and against this and it’s really about what suits you and how your body responds.

Now the art here is based on what you want to achieve, assess how your body may respond to the Ayurveda approach.

Nutritional fact – Understand your body’s unique response to dehydration

This is important because even a drop of about 2% in the body can cause symptoms of dehydration. These can be:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • Excess thirst
  • Decreased blood pressure

Signs of more severe dehydration can be obvious from our skin and the dryness of our lips.

However, the symptoms experienced vary from person to person so observe what this may be for you and how your unique body may respond to dehydration.

The one thing I know for sure is that, what most people experience is the feeling of hunger causing them to overeat when in reality their body may actually be dehydrated. 

It’s important to understand how your body responds to dehydration so that next time you feel hungry you can decide whether it’s hunger or thirst.

Now I really wanted to cover these 3 because I think it’s important to decipher between what is based on a theory or practice and what is nutritional fact. Now there are many theories and other facts I haven’t covered here, but if I did this episode would be hours long. The essence here is that when it comes to theories this is more about what practices suit your body and your lifestyle and I will talk more about this in future episodes but here I wanted to cover the actual facts.

I know at the beginning of the episode I shared how water consumption benefits the functioning of the body.  But I want to share some of the other benefits such as:

  • It is like a booster to your weight loss program (of course taking balanced approach and not overconsuming water)
  • It is like the facial you don’t have time to get done as it helps with a glowing complexion leaving wrinkles at bay and avoiding your skin looking dull
  • You are likely to be more lively and energetic throughout the day as it helps with concentration
  • Detox daily – as drinking water helps flush out toxins

Has that enticed you to increase your water consumption?

Now there are typical barriers for people to not drink enough water so I want to help you overcome these with some practical stips. Some of the most common I hear is:

  • ‘I don’t like going to the bathroom’ often or it makes me go to the bathroom – why is excreting toxins a bad thing? Isn’t it great that your body is detoxing? Plus as you cleanse your body the need to go to the bathroom so often will decrease
  • Being on the go all the time – buy a pretty and functional/ practical water bottle so you can sip on your water throughout the day
  • ‘I don’t like the taste’ – add mint, cinnamon stick or lemon or switch it up so one day its lemon and mint and the next day it’s a cinnamon stick

Now if there is anything you take away from this episode, it would be overcoming the barriers to drinking water and also seeking guidelines on how much water you should be drinking based on your weight, climate, physical activity and environment from a Nutritional Advisor.


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