Hydration is a key part of nutrition and performance. It is essential that we are hydrated correctly so the body has enough water to function and our internal organs can work well. However, over hydration is also an important factor to consider.
So in researching for this particular email I came across some really interesting information and some great opinions. Two articles of many that I read stood out. They can be found here and here. They both provide some really interesting information, thought provoking opinion and are also backed up with some good research. They also go against most of what we are told by the government and many health professionals out there.
In brief, (get reading them yourself), they suggest that the 8 cups of water (2 litres) a day is something that came about in the 1940’s and was a result of a series of studies after which the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine decided that the “RDA” for water should be roughly 1 ml per calorie consumed.
Now this has been the message that we have been delivering for many years, as health professionals and as general public. We seem to believe what we are told in many cases and simply go along with it. Here’s a question for you, and it came from the articles I read…. Do you see a dog or cat or animal of any sort walking around with a little water bottle? Well, no you don’t. That would really freak you out! So why do we? Have a think about it.
So why have we been told this? Looking around again it seems that the message has been slightly mislead by the wording of it. Drink 2 litres of water a day would make you think you need to physically DRINK that amount a day…. wouldn’t it? But hold on, we get water from all aspects of our diet. Our meat, fruit and veg (these both contain a lot of water), tea, coffee, fruit juices, milk etc. But do we account for this? I doubt it.
Those 2 litres are a suggestion of the TOTAL amount of water that we should be consuming per day, NOT EXTRA. If we start taking in an extra 2 litres of water a day, this can lead to many health risks such as Hyponatremia. When you drink a lot of water, the ratio of sodium and fluid in your body becomes skewed. The imbalance causes cells to swell. While systemic cells can handle some degree of swelling, the cells in your brain cannot. Consequently, hyponatremia may result in some neurological problems. Now before you get worried I’m not saying we are all going to get Hyponatremia. This only occurs in serious cases of over hydration. I just wanted you to know.
Each persons hydration levels can vary due to exercise levels, amount of perspiration, humidity etc etc but we need to be aware of where we can get water from.
Now you are eating a better and more varied, balanced and nutritious diet you should be getting a lot more water in. Have a think about whether you have needed more or less water over the last week. What I would suggest is to track it and see how you feel. I personally feel that adding a glass of water with meals to aid digestion is never a bad way to go.
So am I telling you not to drink more water? No, I’m telling you to consider all the ways we can get water in, if you feel thirsty then drink a bit more but don’t overdo it but smashing an extra 2 litres a day. You will just be on the toilet all day!!!