“I’m trying to spend more time outdoors and increasing my exercise now that the weather is warming up. I’m a fairly fit 40-year old and I keep pretty active, – mainly walking and some yoga rather than hard-core exercise. Should I be increasing my water and fluid intake to take this into account?”
Clinical nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer answers:
This is a good question and I’m sure many people will be wondering the same thing. As you’re probably aware, the body is around 70% water and it is the primary component of all body fluids. Think digestive juices, blood, lymph, urine, tears and sweat. It’s also involved in all our elimination, detoxification, circulation and digestive processes, so it’s pretty important!
How much water should you drink?
You are quite right in thinking that you need more water when the weather is warmer and before during and after exercise. It also depends on your size and how many fruits and vegetables you are eating as their water content is naturally high. Generally, we would recommend about 12 small cups of water or liquid daily, which can also include herbal or fruit teas. Aim to drink aroud 1.5 – 2 litres daily. However, caffeinated drinks have a diuretic effect, which is often why we need to urinate quite quickly after drinking a cup of coffee.
Listen to you body
The body is very good at telling us what it needs. For example, if you’re constipated, dehydration is often the cause. Additionally, urine should be fairly clear throughout the day. Taking supplements can affect the colour of urine but it should still be clear, although it might appear more yellow or green, especially if you are taking a multivitamin. As with everything in the body, it’s all about balance. Hunger can sometimes be the body’s response to a lack of water, not food. So, try to pay attention to both feelings of thirst and hunger and make sure it’s not dehydration before you reach for the snacks!
When to drink water
Water is best consumed at regular intervals throughout the day, especially first thing in the morning. In fact, a glass of warm water with some fresh lemon juice is one of the best liver detoxifiers when you wake up. Additionally, drinking some water before bedtime also helps the liver’s natural detoxification processes through the night; you may need to balance that against having to get up for the toilet during the night though. It is also best to drink any large quantities of water away from main meals, as it can dilute stomach acids and digestive enzymes needed for digestion and nutrient absorption.