Water makes up about two thirds of the human body. It is very important to drink enough water to stay hydrated, which means you have enough water in your body to keep you healthy. You can also get water from other drinks and most foods.
WHY IS WATER IMPORTANT?
Your body needs water to stay healthy and work properly. Blood is mostly made up of water, so it is also important for circulation (the movement of blood around your body). Water is also used by your body to get rid of waste products when you go to the toilet. It is particularly crucial for keeping cool, as it allows you to sweat, so you should try to drink more when the weather is warm.
AM I DEHYDRATED?
Dehydration occurs when you do not take in enough water, or you lose too much water. For example, if you sweat a lot while exercising and do not replace the water you have lost by drinking. It often happens when a person is ill, for example with diarrhoea or vomiting, as they are losing more water than normal.
When you are dehydrated, you might feel tired, dizzy or thirsty. You might notice you have a headache or a dry mouth. Your urine may also be darker in colour. If you experience any of these issues, it is important to have a drink of water as soon as possible.
Serious dehydration can lead to changes in mood or behaviour, decreased blood pressure, and fever. Eventually, this may progress to confusion and loss of consciousness, which can be life-threatening. However, you can generally prevent dehydration by making sure you drink enough water regularly.
HOW MUCH WATER SHOULD YOU DRINK?
If possible, men should drink 3.7 litres of water per day. This is about 8 large glasses. Women should drink 2.7 litres (about 6 large glasses). However, the amount of water you need depends on your diet, activity level, and size. For example, someone who does a lot of manual work will need to drink more than someone who mostly sits still.
Although water is the best way to hydrate yourself, you can also drink juice, milk and hot drinks. However, caffeine (found in tea, coffee and some energy drinks) may make you urinate more, causing you to lose water. If you can, carry water with you at all times, and try to always drink some water with a meal.
Drinking water regularly is an important habit to keep your body healthy and working well. It is also useful to learn the signs of dehydration, so that you can recognise when you are not drinking enough.