The human body is made up of about 60% water, a resource that needs to be constantly replenished as our bodies work; as we breathe we loose water, as we sweat and as we go to the toilet.
When we have lost only 2% of our normal water level, our bodies start to become dehydrated, with initial symptoms such as a thirst or dryness of the skin, leading onto headaches, muscle cramps and dizziness. We can feel more tired and the ability to think clearly can diminish. As our bodies become more dehydrated as the amount of water in our systems drop, these symptoms will become more severe.
The initial health benefits of drinking water in regular amounts is therefore to eliminate dehydration and to remain alert. As the body can not store excess water, you should aim to replace water at a similar rate to which it is lost which is why you need to drink more water on a hot day, where you may be perspiring more.
Having sufficient water in your system also ensures that you kidneys will work to the best of their abilities. The kidneys are the organs that remove the waste products from your body and helps regulate blood pressure. The kidneys clean the waste from the blood and pas it out of the body in the urine, for which they need sufficient amounts of water. Part of this process also means that they regulate the amount of water in your body which is why your urine changes to a darker colour when you have not drunk enough water.
So how much do you need to drink to see the benefits of drinking water?
In a country such as the United Kingdom, a person will need to replace about 2.5 litres of water, through drinking water, but some water will also be replaced from the foods you eat, especially fruit which can be very high in water content. The вЂњeight glasses of water a dayвЂќ rule of thumb will provide just about litres of water which is why this is a useful guide.
As discussed above, a good indication of whether you are drinking enough water is the frequency with which you go to the toilet and the colour of your urine.
Because your bodies work harder and perspire more when exercising, it is not surprising to find that athletes can see a marked drop in their performance with only a small loss of water. There can be a 30% reduction with only a 2% drop in water so the benefits of drinking water when exercising are clear.
Whilst it is difficult to drink too much water, there are some special considerations that you need to be aware of, particularly if you suffer from medical conditions such as diabetes and if you are ever in doubt you should consult a doctor.