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Am I Drinking Enough Water?
by Jane Thurnell-Read

How Do I Know If I’m Drinking Enough Water?

Drinking enough water is really important, because a large part of our physical bodies is made up of water. Water is critical to our health: we can survive much longer without food than we can without water. Water is a coolant, a lubricant and a solvent. A large part of what I call ‘me’ is simply water.

If we do not drink enough water, the body will do various things to conserve water. These conservation strategies can lead to various unpleasant symptoms, but from the body’s viewpoint these are less harmful than being depleted further of water.

For example, simply drinking more water can relieve many cases of constipation. If the body is short of water, it will extract water from the faeces, making them hard and difficult to pass. The end result is constipation. An abundant intake of water can quickly solve this problem for many people. Many years ago when my children were small I had a nanny to look after them for a few months. Every Sunday she would disappear into the bathroom and appear several hours later looking white faced. Eventually I asked her what was going on, and she told me that she had been severely constipated all her life. She managed to go once a week but it was extremely painful. I suggested that she should try drinking more water. After a few days she was amazed that she was no longer constipated. She told me that as a child she had been taken to various specialists, who could not find anything wrong, but no one had suggested that she should drink more water. What a simple solution to an excruciatingly painful problem.

Dr F Batmanghelidj in his excellent book “Your Body’s Many Cries For Water” documents how he has helped people suffering from a wide range of illnesses including asthma, headaches, depression, colitis and hypertension, just by getting them to drink more water.

For many years top models have been fanatical about drinking water to maintain a clear skin. No wonder - water helps to flush out toxins and plump out the skin making it look more youthful. If you want to lose weight, try drinking a large glass of water whenever you feel peckish. Wait ten minutes, and then decide if you still need that food.

A study by Dr David Lewis sponsored by Brita, the UK water filter company, shows that water plays a vital role in our immune systems ability to fight infection, making those who drink sufficient less likely to suffer from flu and colds. This study also showed that those who drank enough water were less likely to suffer from the winter blues and recovered from stress more easily.

Athletes know that, if they wait till they are thirsty before drinking, they are probably already dehydrated, and that means that their performance will be affected.  Even if you are not an athlete your performance at work, at home and at school can be affected by insufficient water.

How do you know if you are drinking enough water? Most experts think we should be drinking at least 2 litres (approximately 4.25 US pints) of water a day – not as tea, coffee, cola or beer – but as water. You will need even more if you are exercising or if it is hot.

To begin with you may find this difficult, because you don’t feel thirsty. It seems that the body damps down the thirst reflex when it goes unanswered for so many years. Initially you may find you need to go to the toilet more, but gradually your system gets used to the extra intake.

Try this: for several days commit yourself to drinking 2 litres of water per day. Put it into a jug or bottle and drink it whether you are thirsty or not. After a few days you will probably find that your body starts to indicate that it is thirsty, and you will wonder how you managed to drink so little in the past.

Of course, the two litres a day is a guide. Probably a more accurate way is to check your urine. Ideally your urine should be very pale (straw coloured). Darker urine is usually telling you that you are not drinking enough water, although B vitamins will colour your urine as will some medication. (It can also be a sign of health problems, so if it is still dark after you have upped your water intake consult an appropriate health practitioner or doctor.)

Want to look younger and feel better quickly? Checking you are drinking enough water could do just this. Think about how lank and miserable plants look when they don't get enough water. Pretend you're a plant and perk yourself up with more water.

Jane Thurnell-Read is a writer on health. Her health and happiness web site has lots more articles and information on good health. There's also an international therapist listing service, so you can find a caring complementary/alternative medicine practitioner.

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