We all know the drill… 2 litres a day of the crystal clear stuff, but how many people actually drink that much pure water every day? Unfortunately many of us forego pure water in place of other liquids including tea, coffee, squash, fizzy drinks… (All diuretics meaning they drain water from our bodies)… Of course, our daily needs alter according to many factors including how active we are and what the weather decides to do that day. Therefore 2 litres is only ever a guide. And some studies suggest that we should actually be aiming for a minimum of 3 litres a day!
So why is water SO important?
Water is needed for a many actions that go on in our miraculous bodies, including the overall electrolyte balance (balance of certain minerals such as potassium, sodium, magnesium and potassium), our metabolism (and therefore how easily or not we burn energy), body temperature, skin health and of course the removal of waste products and detoxification. In fact, the colon alone re-absorbs 1.5 litres of water a day in a healthy adult (you can see why many people suffer from constipation!).
When we have enough water the benefits are vast and include:
Children and Dehydration
One group who seem to really fall short on the pure water intake are our children and bearing in mind the fact that children have a higher proportion of body water than adults, and are less heat tolerant, they are even more prone to dehydration. Children, especially those a little older, tend to also consume a lot of sweet drinks, especially energy drinks which often contain caffeine, a diuretic which exacerbates dehydration. Add to that the sugar (also a diuretic) and the problem only worsens.
According to a recent Harvard Study, more than half of American children are dehydrated, which can and does have an effect on overall health and academic performance.
As children will never prioritise water in the same way as they prioritise food, we as adults and parents need to ensure that they are getting enough water. It is recommended that younger children up to 8 consume around a litre a day, 9 to 12 year olds 1.5 litres, and 2 litres for 13 and above. And of course, as with adults, intake also depends on the weather and the amount of activity that the child is doing.
How do you know if you are dehydrated?
When the body loses between 1 and 2 % of total water, it will signal you need to top up by activating the feeling of thirst. However, by the time you feel thirsty you are actually already in the early stages of dehydration, so never ignore the early signals of thirst. It’s much better to not allow yourself to feel thirsty in the first place and in fact, the thirst mechanism tends to be underdeveloped in children, meaning they don’t always know when they are heading for dehydration.
Of course, thirst isn’t the only signal that the body puts out there. It actually lets you know in lots of other ways that you may not always realise are due to lack of water, for example:
How can you increase your water intake?
One of the common reasons clients say they don’t drink enough water is that they forget, and I can empathise with this as I used to be the same. It’s very easy to be busy with work or with the children, engrossed in what you’re doing, get to lunchtime and realise the only liquid to pass your lips has been a cuppa at 7am! So how can you overcome this?
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