One of the objectives of leading a Primal lifestyle is to achieve optimal functioning for both your body and mind. Whilst many seek to achieve this through diet and exercise there is often one element that is forgotten; the importance of what you drink. Hydration, or lack of it, can have a huge impact not only on your ability to function effectively but on your ability to reach your weight loss and exercise goals.
…we would not be able to survive more than 4 days without water… When the body’s level of water is decreased by just a small amount (as little as 5%) you can start to experience deterioration in muscle strength and condition.
Whilst it is known that we could survive without food for weeks (it is thought at least three weeks is possible) we would not be able to survive more than 4 days without water, even less if you are exposed to warm conditions. Yet the impact of hydration on our health is often overlooked.
Why do we need water?
At least 60% of the adult body is made of water and every living cell in your body needs it to keep functioning. Water has many functions, all of which are essential for our bodies to perform, even at the most basic level such as regulating our body temperature through sweating and respiration along with helping to flush out waste from our system. Water also has an important role to play in a healthy digestive system, as well as transporting nutrients and oxygen around your body, lubricating joints, and providing clear and glowing skin.
Our bodies are constantly losing water just by carrying out day to day activities such as breathing and going to the toilet. The rate at which you lose water will be accelerated further by activities such as exercise which cause the body to sweat. Even your commute to work on that packed train or bus is depleting your water reserves. The bottom line is that we all need to consume enough water each and every day to counteract the fluids that we are losing.
What happens if we don’t have enough water?
If you fail to drink enough water each day then you are at risk of suffering from dehydration. On a basic level you may start to feel thirsty, have a dry mouth, experience a feeling of being tired and lethargic, and most likely have dark yellow urine; if you actually need to go to the toilet at all. In addition, you may also suffer from low blood pressure, lose skin elasticity, and experience a restricted blood flow to your body tissue and muscles.
Water is incredibly important for transporting oxygen around your body. When the body’s level of water is decreased by just a small amount (as little as 5%) you can start to experience deterioration in muscle strength and condition. At the most basic level this will affect your ability to exercise efficiently and could mean that all the hard work you are putting into your workouts is being wasted.
Dehydration will also make it more difficult for your body to eliminate waste products that it no longer needs. Water is a vital component in this process and when the available sources are depleted and your body is failing to eliminate the food it has digested it can lead to weight gain, increased toxic load, and the onset of digestive disorders.
How much water should I be drinking?
This can be difficult to answer as everyone is different; we all have our own personal requirements that will need to be considered such as age, diet, the amount of physical activity you undertake, and the climate with in which you live.
As a general guide you should aim for 2 litres of water a day. If the weather is particularly hot or you have been exercising this should increase to at least 3 litres. Ever get a headache after the gym? That is one of the first signs of being dehydrated and a sign that you need to up your fluid intake.
Whilst it is best to get the majority of your fluid intake from water there are other drinks that are included as part of a primal lifestyle such as fruit juices, coconut water, as well as tea and coffee that can count towards your daily intake. Consuming a diet which is high in fresh fruit and vegetables also helps to provide sources of hydration; just think how they contribute to glowing skin.
The easiest way to know if you’re drinking enough fluid is to look at the colour of your urine. If you’re drinking enough water, your urine will be clear or a pale straw colour. A darker yellow means you aren’t drinking enough water and you are at risk of becoming dehydrated.
Tips on making sure you drink enough water
Knowing how much water you should be drinking and being able to consume it all in one day are two very different matters. Whether you work in a customer facing role which doesn’t allow you to have a drink on standby or you simply find you don’t get thirsty, there are many reasons why our water intake is often lower than it should be.
Try following these tips to increase your daily intake:
- Get used to always having a bottle of water with you. It doesn’t have to be mineral water you can just refill a bottle from the tap. When you are out and about try to keep it in your hand and get used to taking regular sips from it as often as you can. This could be when you are walking, traveling to and from work, or even just on your phone. Make sure you always have the bottle in your handbag/gym bag so that you can fill it up whenever you run out.
- If you work in an office then make sure you keep a bottle on your desk. Every time someone does a tea run make sure you drink a glass of water alongside it so that you finish both at the same time. Make sure that the first thing you do when you get to your desk is pour a glass of water and try to have finished by the time you have worked through your e-mails.
- If you are not keen on drinking water (you are not alone; a lot of people struggle with drinking water on its own) then you can make your own flavoured water. All you need to do is add your favourite fruit and vegetables into a glass or jug of water and then let the flavours infuse. For the best flavour you need to pack your chosen flavours in quite tightly and then add the water.
- Over the upcoming summer months, adding cucumber and berries to your water creates a refreshing and cooling drink. You could also try juicing some vegetables such as oranges and apples and then adding to your water to provide a hint of fruitiness.
- If you struggle to drink water all day then try making vegetable juices and add some coconut water for added hydration. This could easily become part of your breakfast routine or as a snack throughout the day.
Take some time to really think about how much you really drink on a daily basis and whether this is likely to be sufficient for your needs. The answer is most likely no. Make it a priority to drink more for a period of two weeks and you will be amazed at how good it can make you feel.
- Spector, D. (2014, May). Here’s How Many Days A Person Can Survive Without Water. In Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-many-days-can-you-survive-without-water-2014-5?IR=T
- Keeping Hydrated. (n.d.). In Bupa Health Information. Retrieved from https://www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/Directory/H/hydration