Water is an essential component of our cells, and staying hydrated is vital for good health. The traditional recommendation of drinking six to eight glasses of water per day is just a guideline, and your health will not suffer if you fail to meet that “target”, but it is still important to maintain an adequate liquid intake on a daily basis.
We lose fluid from our bodies constantly, from urine, sweat and even simply breathing. Fluid losses are increased during warm weather, at high altitude and during intense exercise. If you fail to replace those fluids, you can become dehydrated. Even slight dehydration can make you feel very unwell. Severe dehydration can be fatal.
Why Hydration Is Important
Around 60 per cent of our body weight is water. This includes liquid that is contained in our blood, our cells and our vital organs. It provides moisture for our ears, nose and throat, it helps to transport nutrients to our organs and it is used to flush toxins out of our body.
The average adult male needs about three litres of liquid per day, while the average adult female requires 2.2 litres. That water does not have to be taken in pure form, however. The food that we eat contains liquids, and we take in a lot through soft drinks, tea, coffee and fruit juice. The only thing that we should not really count as being water is alcohol, because it has a dehydrating effect.
Staying properly hydrated doesn’t just help you to stay healthy, as it can be good for your complexion too. Many people find that when they stop drinking alcohol and soda and swap to more refreshing drinks their skin becomes much healthier and they enjoy a fresher, more youthful appearance. In addition, since they are no longer drinking a large number of calories each day, they enjoy weight loss as an unexpected side benefit.
Some people, in particular older adults, do not have a very strong sense of thirst, or mistake thirst for hunger. For this reason, many diet experts recommend that people drink a glass of water half an hour before each meal. This serves two purposes: it helps to offset feelings of thirst, and it fills your stomach slightly, limiting feelings of hunger and encouraging you to eat less. Remember that a bottle of fruit juice can contain several hundred calories. Why drink those calories when you could save them and have an extra helping of filling vegetables with your evening meal instead?
Liquids on the Paleo Diet
The Paleo diet advises against drinking sugary sodas, fruit juices and drinks which contain artificial colours and flavourings, and with good reason. Those kinds of drinks are calorie-dense and contain artificial substances that serve no beneficial purpose in our bodies. If you must have something flavoured to drink, try unsweetened tea or coffee. Moderate coffee consumption is not bad for you, and the antioxidants in tea help to slow down the effects of aging, boost your immune system and improve your health.