If scientists can agree on anything, I’d think that the amount of water we need per day should be quite simple. But I’d be wrong. There are articles stating that it’s ‘surprisingly common’ for dehydration to be the cause of visits to the doctor complaining of tiredness, and then those warning us of the dangers of following the guidelines because we’ll have too much water. This week, I’m doing my own experiment to see whether drinking more has any effect on my health.
What are the recommendations
The first problem I have with the recommendations is that they often talk in ‘glasses’. This doesn’t help me at all. What size? A small glass, medium, large? On the NHS website I found that the recommended 6-8 glasses/day equates to 1.2 l, yet the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends an intake of around 1.9 l for men and 1.5 l for women, excluding what you’ll get from food. Obviously your required intake will depend on numerous factors, such as sex (I was referring to gender but note that exercise is another important factor!), your size and climate.
Even diuretics (which make you urinate more) such as tea and coffee count towards your daily intake, but these should be drunk sparingly, as should fruit juices and sugary drinks. Don’t drink 1.5 l of Coke and think that you’re being healthy. Water and low-fat milk are best for adults.
Did it make a difference?
The first thing I realised was that 1.2 l isn’t really that much. The first day, I thought I really had to up my intake so had drunk over 600 ml before 10 am. A good thing about drinking water if you work in an office is that you’ll be forced to get up and have a break away from your screen to relieve yourself. After the first few days though, I came down with man flu. Even though this is the time when you do need to make sure you have enough fluid intake, it kind of went to pot a bit. I think I still drank more than I would have done normally, but I wasn’t monitoring it at all.
Our bodies are designed to tell us what we need so I say listen to them. Look at the colour of your urine – if it’s dark rather than straw-coloured, maybe try drinking more. The basic rule is: if you’re thirsty, drink! Cheers to that.