How much water do I need to drink on a daily basis?
(From an article featured on my monthly newsletter – click here to sign up for regular updates)
This does vary – according to how much exercise you are doing and what your diet is like but roughly 1.5 litres to 3 litres daily. The fluid should be clear or near clear fluid so that would include: water/juice/herbal tea/fruit tea/green tea but not coffee, alcohol and fizzy drinks. I know that the British Dietetic Association do include coffee as fluid but I have had patients who, on hearing that, have drunk 10 cups of coffee per day and no water and thought that was ok – it isn’t by the way. Coffee is a diuretic (which means your urine output increases). If you are going to drink coffee, make sure you still have 6-8 large glasses of water daily. Another guideline is the colour of your urine. You will notice that it is darker in the morning when you have had no liquid over night. A pale straw colour is what you should be aiming for, if it’s dark, you probably need to up your liquid and if its clear, you have drunk enough.
Your body can go approximately three to four weeks with no food but only three to five days with no water. The body is 70% water and water is responsible for and involved in nearly every bodily process including: digestion, absorption, circulation and excretion. It is also the primary transporter of nutrients though the body. Water helps maintain normal body temperature and is essential for carrying waste material out of the body. Quality water is beneficial for virtually all disorders known to mankind. Bowel and bladder problems as well as headaches can be reduced by drinking water. Water is especially important for people who have musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis or who are athletic, as it lubricates the joints. Approximately one pint of liquid is lost each day through exhaling.
Getting quality should be an easy matter but due to the numerous types of classification the average consumer can easily be confused about what is available.
So here is my (hopefully) easy guide to different types of water and whether they help or harm the body.
Tap Water – In Eastbourne we have hard water and are very familiar with the lime scale! Lime scale is harmless, but it is advisable to clean kettles and keep hot water systems below 60°C to reduce the build up of lime scale in boilers and hot water pipes. Having said that, the water is pretty good here as it is pumped up through the chalk and not from reservoirs and at present is non fluoridated. Hard water tends to contain more calcium and magnesium. The presence of these minerals prevents soap from lathering as much and can result in sediment being deposited in the hair, clothing, pipes dishes and washtubs. The hardness of water varies from region to region depending on the amount of minerals which dissolve in the rainwater as it percolates through the ground. Go to www.southeastwater.co.uk for more information on water in your area. Some people choose to fit a water softener. These should be fitted to comply with the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999 and one tap should still supply unsoftened water for cooking and drinking because softeners can significantly increase the level of sodium in water.
Can you drink the water in East Sussex? – the simple answer is yes, the quality is pretty good so don’t waste your money on bottled water.
Because of the concerns of tap water (I hope I have now allayed any fears about water in Sussex) many people are still turning to bottled water – are they necessary and how do you choose which is better for your health? Buying bottled water is a personal choice, the only health concern is to look at the mineral content (more on that later).
Types of bottled water
Artisan – this is water that is drawn from a well where the water is brought to the surface by natural pressure or flow.
Bottled water – this water is intended for human consumption and is sealed in bottles or other containers with no added ingredients except for optional antimicrobial agents. About 25% of bottled water now sold comes from the same water supplies that flow into some areas household taps.
Mineral water – Mineral water is water from a geologically and physically protected undergoing water source or spring that has been tapped at the spring opening or through a borehole. No minerals may be added to this water. Depending on where the source is, the minerals the water contain will vary. If you are suffering from a deficiency of minerals and are drinking mineral water for therapeutic reasons you must be aware of which minerals are in the particular brand of water you drink. If you are drinking mineral water containing minerals that you do not lack you could be doing yourself more harm than good.
Natural Spring Water – This label does not tell you where the water has come from only that the mineral content of the water has not be altered. It may or may not have been filtered or otherwise treated. While the number of gallons of natural spring water flowing through water coolers and from bottles has more than doubled in recent years the meaning of these words on a label has been firmly defined only since the final changes in the FDA bottled drinking water regulations have been in place. Spring water is water that comes form an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth. It must be collected at the spring or through a borehole tapping the underground formation that feeds the spring. To meet the definition of spring there must be natural force bringing the water to the surface opening. The location of the spring must be identified on the label of any water labelled as spring water.
Sparkling water -This is bottled water that contains the same amount of carbon dioxide that it had at the water source. It can be a healthy alternative to soda but if it is loaded with fructose and other sweeteners it may be no better than fizzy drinks. A naturally sparkling water must get its carbonation from the same source as the water. If a water is carbonated natural water, that means the carbonation came from a source other than the one that supplied the water. That doesn’t mean the water is of poor quality. It can still be natural because its mineral content is the same as when it came form the ground even through it as been carbonated from a separate source. People suffering with gut problems should avoid drinking carbonated water because it irritates the gut.
There is nothing wrong with bottled water, and it is a healthier option than fizzy drinks obviously, and handy to carry around if you are travelling or out for the day. For home use however, unless you are entertaining tap water is fine.
Fluoridation – A quick point about flouridation. My personal opinions about mass flouridation might not concur with your beliefs, but if you would like more information go to www.flouridealert.org so you can make up your own mind. Please get yourself better informed about the dangers of this potentially toxic substance. Having spoken to Southern Water today there are no plans at present to fluoridate the water here, however that does not mean that in a few years it may be under review again. As early as 1961, as recorded in the Congressional Record in the US, fluoride was exposed as a lethal poison. The Delaney Congressional Investigation Committee also in the US has stated that “fluoridation is mass medication without parallel in the history of medication”. Today in the US almost half of the states fluoridate their water. We are luckier in the UK, but many counties are now fluoridated.