Staying hydrated: How to drink more water

Thursday, 3 October 2013

How to drink more water

Many people know that drinking enough water is part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But what does water really mean for our wellbeing?

The short answer is, it’s crucial. While data recorded during hunger strikes show that some people can live for up to two months without food, we can only survive for a few days without water. According to the Drinking Water Research Foundation, the reason for this is that H20 serves an array of vital functions within the body, including regulating body temperature, dissolving vitamins and minerals so that they can be easily absorbed, carrying oxygen to the cells, and lightening the load of the kidneys and liver by helping to flush out waste products. Yet research shows that many people live in a state of dehydration much of the time.

A 2004 study by the National Academy of Science (NAS) in the US found that, on average, men need to drink roughly three litres of water a day to stay well hydrated, while women require just over two litres. In extremely hot weather, or if you exercise a lot, you’ll need to drink even greater quantities. If you’re consuming less than you should, or you notice you often feel thirsty, here are a few suggestions to up your H20 intake:

Keep a glass of water by your bed at night – that way, if you wake up thirsty, you’ll be easily able to reach for it rather than simply ignoring the feeling and going back to sleep.

Spice up your water – add sliced ginger root, mint, lemon or thyme to give it extra flavour and aroma. Not only does this make it more tempting to drink, but many herbs and spices have health properties of their own.

Use a straw – it makes drinking large amounts of water seem more manageable. Have a glass of water first thing in the morning and last thing at night before you go to bed.

Choose water as an alternative to tea, coffee or fizzy drinks – it’s affordable, devoid of calories, and doesn’t contain the caffeine that is in tea and coffee. Alternatively, substitute herbal teas instead.

Keep a bottle of water with you at all times so you always have easy access to it. Make sure it’s a glass or stainless steel bottle – some studies suggest that reusing plastic bottles may pose a health hazard to humans, although further research is still warranted to establish whether this is true. But while the jury is still out on this topic, rather be safe than sorry.

Now that you have an arsenal of ideas for upping your water intake, there’s one note of caution – beware of going to the extreme and drinking too much water. While dehydration can be unhealthy – even deadly – drinking vast quantities of water has been associated with another dangerous condition known as exercise-associated hyponatraemia (EAH), or water intoxication. EAH causes a low blood sodium concentration and causes swelling of the brain, resulting in confusion, seizures and loss of consciousness. So stay aware of how much – as well as how little – water you drink at all times.

Other articles you may be interested in:
Should you be drinking non-dairy milk?
Are we eating too much salt?
Lisa Raleigh’s healthy smoothie recipes
Banish bloating
Superpower your immune system

Written by

After spending most of the last decade working as a journalist and editor in Thailand and travelling the East, Cindy returned to the Mother City in September 2010. She has written for a wide spectrum of online and offline publications in both South Africa and SE Asia and is passionate about reading, writing, food, globe-trotting and cats.

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  1. Kariwo

    I’m lucky that my mummy started me on drinking water since i was a kid…It’s a habit for me now to always be sipping on water…all day

    4 years ago •

  1. Jenna-Lee Pretorius

    this is a great article. I love water and drink almost 2L every day, It is so important and I think that everyone should drink more water. Nothing beats a glass of ice cold water

    5 years ago •

  1. Lynne123

    I <3 water! I can drink more than 2l's a day… I have a bottle next to my desk, you dont realise how quickly you drink it then. I feel bloated when I havent had a good litre and a half minimum. I love adding Mint and Lemon slices in the evening then leaving it over night in the fridge. The most refreshing drink!

    5 years ago •

  1. Adele

    Good article, I don’t drink lots of water. I will try to drink more water /

    5 years ago •

  1. Humphreys

    This is always a struggle for me.

    5 years ago •

  1. Lady-T

    Drinking water with lemon causes mouth ulcers…. eish

    5 years ago •

  1. Lady-T

    I am still struggling with drinking water….eish I need to try harder

    5 years ago •

  1. anisha

    I always add mint and fresh apple slices in a pretty jug this makes water much more desirable!

    5 years ago •

  1. Sue1N

    Water is so essential for weight loss and maintenance and to have your skin look healthy and glowing!

    5 years ago •

  1. Fuhri

    Thanks, I needed some tips as I am guilty of not drinking enough per day. I also like green tea, which helps with my weight control.

    5 years ago •

  1. Pseudo_kate

    I always have water on me and it’s been a habit of mine for years now to always sip on it. My rule is one full glass of water before bed and first thing in the morning. The sipping on water during the day accounts for almost 2 litres for me and my skin has really changed since.

    5 years ago •

  1. AmyR

    I like to drink hot water with lemon in the morning and have a glass of water before bed. To delay hunger pangs I also down a glass. I agree that boiling the water helps with the taste. Tap water really doesn’t do it for me. And yet I still struggle to get my intake up. I think 5 glasses at most is all I can manage – but maybe that’s because I’m small in stature? Its just I hate having to go to the loo every 5 seconds because upping my intake always does that.

    5 years ago •

  1. Nadia Lucas

    Rooibos tea without milk and sugar counts towards your daily water intake according to Weighless which I am on. I am on goal weight for 2 years already :)

    5 years ago •

  1. me

    Water helps for so much. If you are hydrated it even helps to make wrinkles look less. Ones system works so much easier, it is even said; lack of water has an influence on cholesterol.
    Found I can drink many mugs a day when I boil the water and have it as if I would have had a cuppa, helps with frequency and taste.
    Like your article say, I like it with cucumber, and the fruit and mint, but this in room temperature water.

    5 years ago •

  1. Rosegower

    Great article, perfect ideas for me to up my intake! Tired of just drinking water at my desk.

    5 years ago •

  1. fay

    I love pouring water over a slice of lemon and some cut up strawberries with a sprig of mint, delicious and so refreshing for summer :)

    5 years ago •

  1. NaturalDiva

    I do not like the taste of water on its own so I have started adding a bit of lemon juice and a few mint leaves, what a difference it makes!

    5 years ago •

  1. Anne

    Great article and motivation to up my water intake

    5 years ago •

  1. foreverGLAM

    I’m not good at drinking water but I do enjoy drinking it when I add lemon juice to it.

    5 years ago •

  1. Hess

    I’m so glad I stumbled onto this article – I keep on forgetting the H2O and the reminder is good!

    5 years ago •

  1. Rochelle Kay

    My waterbottle goes everywhere with me. Keep in mind, it is very difficult to over hydrate and usually only affects people who exercise very hard or marathon runners.

    5 years ago •

  1. Sharon Dawn Higgs

    OMW I try to drink as much as I can. Up until a few weeks ago I only would sip sip water. Now Im managing about 1.5l a day. I find by adding fresh lemon juice it is easier to drink.

    5 years ago •

  1. DebbieT

    Wow! Really interesting read! Seems to be a very fine line between just enough water and too much water.

    5 years ago •

  1. Sammy

    I have not been one for drinking water even though I know it is vital I guess I should really try harder

    5 years ago •

  1. Sam

    I am guilty of not drinking enough water. This in turn makes me feel tired all the time. I’ll try very hard to implement these tips.

    5 years ago •

  1. Robbiemoss

    Its so hard to remember to drink water but these are really helpful! On to my second glass now

    5 years ago •

  1. TJK

    I keep a bottle with me at all times. When I forget it at home, I forget to drink! Great article.

    5 years ago •

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