Is it summer in Britain yet? I have been struggling with how much water I need to drink every day as our British summer weather keeps changing its mind.
We often hear about the benefits of drinking more water and why we should drink more of it.
Are you maximising your water in-take? Is all water good?
What about coconut water, sparkling water and tonic water?
No matter what, it’s important for us to hydrate and I have done some research on how much water we actually need to drink, the best times to drink water and the myths around coconut water, sparkling water and tonic water:
Best times to drink water during the day
For those of you who exercise regularly, especially high intensity exercises, you may have noticed how the lack of hydration impacts your workout or hot yoga class.
Although it’s important to keep hydrated, there are certain times of the day which make your water intake work harder for you.
- First thing in the morning: After you wake up, drink 2 glasses of water to hydrate yourself and wake your organs up.
- 30 minutes before eating a main meal: Drinking 1 glass of water 30 minutes before a main meal helps you with digesting your food. It’s also great to help prevent over-eating as you are less likely to be eating because you are hungry when you are actually thirsty.
- Before taking a bath: Drinking 1 glass of water before taking a warm bath will help you lower your blood pressure. Imagine feeling even more relaxed if you drink a glass of water beforehand.
- Just before bed time: Drinking 1 glass of water before bed can help prevent strokes and heart attacks.
- Drink hot water and lemon first thing in the morning. It’s so good for your digestive system and it helps wake you up.
- Adding some fresh ginger into the mix gives it a great kick!
- Aside from these times, keep hydrated in between.
I have REALLY caught onto the fad of coconut water ever since I started Bikram yoga. Sometimes, it feels like no amount of water I drink after a class kills my thirst until I have some coconut water. Here are just some benefits of this magical water:
- Helps you replenish key electrolytes (calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and sodium) to help you function well
- Helps you with hydration and it is so much better for you than energy drinks due to low sugar levels
- Helps you with your digestive system due to its high concentration of fibre
- Helps tone and moisturise your skin
- Helps reduce your blood pressure because it helps balance your electrolyte levels in your blood pressure
- Although coconut water is much more accessible in cartons nowadays, it is important to note that some brands add sugar
- Fresh is always best. If you get a choice, always pick a coconut which is green on the outside than the brown, as you will get more coconut water instead.
- When picking a coconut, give it a shake and hear how much liquid is in each one.
Some of us might like the odd bit of tonic water with a slice of lemon and perhaps even a measure of vodka and gin occasionally. Although it contains sugar (hence the reason why it tastes sweet), it does count towards your daily water intake and can help you prevent dehydration. I used to drink light (sugar-free) tonic and of course, they contain artificial sweeteners which aren’t good for us at all. As my nutritional therapist has advised, if I want to eat something sweet then I should eat it in its most natural form.
Despite the sugar levels, there are some health benefits to tonic water:
- It contains quinine which can help fight malaria. However, you will have to drink A LOT of tonic water to notice any difference. If you any suspicion of having malaria, the best and most immediate thing to do is to seek urgent medical help.
Quinine can help you relax your muscles, especially if you suffer from spasm conditions. It can also help you if you have sore or tight muscles like me. Again, you will have to drink a lot of tonic water to notice any difference.
- If you want to ease your muscles a bit, drink plenty of water (still or sparkling) and do some yoga or pilates. Massages will also help. Who doesn’t love a massage?
- If you really love tonic water, limit yourself to 2 a day to keep things balanced. At other times, replace it with sparkling water with a slice of orange, lemon or lime to keep things interesting.
Recently, I have really caught onto drinking sparkling water. I never liked it when I worked in Sweden, where the default water choice was sparkling and not still. In the last couple of months, I have really enjoyed my sparkling water with or without a slice of lemon. I am not sure if it’s the fizz or whether it takes slightly salty. Does it taste slightly salty to you?
People have raised concerns over the acid level in sparkling water and the impact of this on out acid levels, bone density and tooth enamel. However, it doesn’t look like there is any solid medical evidence which proves long term adverse effects on our health. In fact, it seems to provide all of the same benefits as drinking natural clean water!
- Drink it slowly to avoid hiccups and indigestion.
There is no right answer
We have all heard the saying that we should drink 8 ounce glasses of water a day, which is the equivalent to 2.5 litres. Don’t get me wrong. Having enough water in our system helps us prevent kidney stones, urinary tract infection, fatigue, etc. It helps improve our skin, our mood, our joints, our sleep, clarity in thinking and problem solving, alongside many other benefits.
Just like yoga, we are all different and we have different bodies. We live in different climates and we eat different foods. If your diet includes a lot of fruit and vegetables, you are already taking in a good amount of water. If you drink tea, coffee or even a glass of wine, they count towards your daily water intake that your body needs. Yes – despite of the alcohol levels and caffeine, they count towards your intake, even though they do not re-hydrate you as much as water does. Food also includes some of the water content.
Depending on your daily activities, you might need to drink more than the person next to you. If you have an office job working Monday to Friday office hours, you are likely to need to drink less than a personal trainer or hot yoga teacher.
I am a big fan of drinking water and I also firmly believe that our bodies are incredibly intelligent in telling us when we are de-hydrated. Sometimes, when we feel hungry, we might actually be thirsty so drink a glass of water and see how you feel afterwards.
For me personally (and this is not by any means a medical advice), I look at the colour of my urine and that gives me a good indication on how hydrated I am. If the colour is quite clear yet I still feel thirsty, then I know I am lacking some nutrients in my diet. We are all different. We just need to be mindful of what our body is telling us and not ignore the signs.
- Everything in moderation.
- Listen to your body.
- If in doubt, have a glass of water.
I would love to hear your comments on this.