Most of us can improve our health by drinking more water.

Water is one of our body’s most important nutrients, yet the simple advice to drink more water is often neglected by even health-minded people. Did you know that about 70 percent of our total body weight is made up of water? Therefore we need plenty of water for our bodies to function in a healthy way. Water not only regulates our body temperature but also carries nutrients and waste products to and from the organs, through the bloodstream and body systems. It also lubricates the joints and colon, helping prevent constipation.

Each day approximately two litres of water is eliminated through the skin, lungs, intestines and kidneys. If this water is not replaced, we become dehydrated. Some signs of dehydration are headache, fatigue, muscle soreness, dark urine, heat intolerance and dry mouth/eyes. The kidneys are self-cleaning and self-maintaining, capable of operating for a long time; However, a great deal of water must pass through your kidneys for the body to remain healthy.

  • How much water?

An average adult requires two to three litres of water daily. Children between one and four years of age often drink too little and should drink almost one litre of fluid a day, besides what they get with meals.

We need water more when the weather is hot or extremely cold and dry, when we exercise and when we have any illness accompanied by such conditions as diarrhea, fever and vomiting, which cause a loss of fluids. Those on high-fibre diets also require more fluids to keep the fibre moving through the bowel.

Many people stay in a slightly dehydrated state, as the thirst sensation occurs after body fluids have already become low And the older people get, the less keen is their thirst mechanism. “If a person relies on thirst, he will not drink enough,” says Dr. Mark Davis, an exercise physiology professor.

  • Drinks to avoid

The sweeter a drink is, the more slowly it is absorbed. Sodas can actually make you thirstier, as fluid is needed to digest the sugar. Since caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, drinks containing them can lead to water loss. Remember – water is best because it is rapidly absorbed by the body.

  • Drink water to lose weight

Water has no calories, is fat-free, cholesterol-free, low in sodium and an appetite suppressant. Water also helps the body to metabolise stored fat. When the kidneys do not have enough water, they cannot function properly. The liver steps in as a backup, but doing so hinders its ability to metabolise fat effectively. The fat remains stored in the body and you gain weight.

Overweight people should drink an extra glass of water for every 10 kg in excess of their ideal weight.