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How much water do we need?

06 October, 2014

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend water as the best drink to quench a thirst. It has no sugar, no carbohydrates and most tap water contains fluoride which can help to prevent tooth decay. It’s also cheap and readily available.

Why we need to drink water

Drinking water is essential for our health as our bodies need it to function properly. Tap water is the best choice for hydration and in most parts of Australia fluoride is added to the water which helps to protect your teeth from decay.

If you don’t drink enough water, you might experience some of the signs of dehydration including:

  • dark urine
  • thirst or a dry mouth
  • headache
  • confusion
  • difficulty concentrating or confusion
  • tiredness
  • muscle cramps
  • loss of appetite

In extreme cases, dehydration can even lead to fainting.

How much water should we drink?

The amount of water we need varies depending on our age, weight, sex and other factors such as the temperature and how much we’re exercising. The Australian Dietary Guidelines don’t recommend a specific amount of water, but rather suggest we drink plenty of water.

Generally, men need 10 cups of fluids each day and women need eight cups of water. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need nine cups. One cup is equivalent to 250ml.

A good indication of your hydration level is the colour of your urine. You can check the urine colour chart at Healthdirect Australia to see if you’re dehydrated.

Is bottled water better than tap water?

In Australia, tap water is just as effective at hydrating the body as bottled water. It’s also just as safe as bottled water unless there has been an incident in the area that affects the water supply. The fluoride in tap water also helps to keep your teeth healthy.

According to Healthdirect Australia, bottled water can contain less minerals than tap water and can also contain higher levels of harmful substances like nitrate and chlorine.

When do we need to drink more water?

Exercise

Staying hydrated is particularly important when exercising. It also helps you get the most out of your workout. Water gives you increased energy, allowing you to push harder and get great results. To ensure you’re getting enough, drink water before, during and immediately after working out.

Hot weather

On very hot days, your body can lose water quickly through sweat. Sweat is needed to maintain an even body temperature, but if you don’t drink enough water, it’s harder for your body to keep cool and comfortable. If you find yourself sweating, be sure to increase your intake of water. Heated indoor air during winter can also lead your skin to lose moisture.

Illness or health conditions

If you have a condition that causes you to lose water like diarrhoea, vomiting or a fever, it’s important to drink more water. If you have a urinary tract infection or a bladder infection, you should also make sure you’re hydrated.

Tips for drinking more water

1. Add flavour to your water

If you don’t like the taste of plain old water, you add flavour with a few drops of lemon or lime juice, a slice of orange or even some fresh herbs.

2. Carry a water bottle with you

Taking a water bottle with you to work or on a trip to the shops makes staying hydrated easy. Stainless steel bottles keep your water cool and refreshing and are sturdy for transporting. Having a water bottle close to hand will see you sipping throughout the day, and before you know you’ll reach your recommended intake. 

3. Get in a routine

Pace yourself and drinking at regular intervals will keep you hydrated throughout the day. Start your morning with a big glass, have another at morning tea, then lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and bedtime. If you’re not good at keeping a routine, try setting a water reminder on your phone.

Sources

https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/healthy+living/healthy+eating/healthy+eating+tips/choose+water+as+a+drink

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/drinking-water-and-your-health

https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2017-10-18/how-much-water-do-we-need-to-drink-a-day/8996668

https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating

https://kidney.org.au/cms_uploads/docs/drink-water-instead--kidney-health-australia-fact-sheet.pdf

All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified healthcare professional.

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