Remember how, as children, we never left home without our water bottles swinging by our sides?
Remember how, as children, we never left home without our water bottles swinging by our sides? Whatever happened to that healthier habit once we grew up? Water, after all, is the essence of life—are we getting enough?
On average, 60-75% of the adult human body is water. It is a component of almost every body part, from our brain (~75%), to our muscles (~80%) and even our bones (~30%). Water’s vital functions include dissolving and carrying nutrients and oxygen to our cells. Water regulates our temperature. It keeps our tissues—like those in our nose and eyes—moist, and our joints lubricated. It protects our organs and ensures their proper operation. Water flushes out waste products. It’s a list that goes on… simply put, our body depends on sufficient water to stay healthier. That’s why Mum always nagged us about drinking enough!
Water leaves us naturally when we go to the toilet, when we cry, when we perspire or even as we breathe, so we need to replace it. Fortunately, that’s as easy as having sips of water throughout the day. What happens, though, if we don’t drink enough?
Ask any kid what happens if you don’t drink water, and he will happily tell you, “You will die!” It’s basic knowledge, but we seldom consider the implications. Lack of water on a regular basis can lead to a myriad of health problems. Sometimes, the symptoms are so commonplace, you may not even associate them with how much you are drinking, or rather, not drinking.
Athletes know this, and now you do, too: Water boosts your muscle performance! If you are easily fatigued or feel weak, try pumping in some water before you pump that iron.
Feeling grumpy or confused? Maybe you just need to refresh yourself with a glass of water. Lack of water can influence your mood and affect how clearly you think.
Constipation and other digestive problems
Constipation is associated with inadequate fluid intake. Take note, too, that increasing your fibre intake with insufficient water may give you constipation. Check with your doctor, as there may be other causes.
While many things may trigger a headache, a common cause is inadequate water intake. If you feel a throb coming on, try and see if a drink of water helps alleviate the pain.
Keep your skin hydrated and healthier when you drink enough.
While we might instinctively reach for a drink after exercise or on a hot day, most of us only drink when we are thirsty. Unfortunately, a parched throat is not a good indicator of dehydration—by the time you feel thirsty, your body is already crying out for help.
So, how much is enough? You’ve probably heard “eight glasses a day” (about two litres)—and that is a useful guide in general—but bear in mind that this includes all fluid, including that from foods like fruit and porridge. You also need more water if you exercise, perspire a lot, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or are ill.
As a rule of thumb, you should be drinking enough so that you urinate several times a day, and your urine is pale and odour-free. If your pee is dark-coloured and smells, you need to drink more.
In hot and humid Singapore, we complain passionately about perspiring all the time, but not many of us are as fervent about replenishing our water stores.
The good news is that most liquids count toward our water intake, like soup, juice, milk, coffee; even foods like vegetables and yoghurt. The not-so-good news is that not all drinks are equal. Beware: that bowl of soup may contain too much salt and oil; that third kopi-gao might deliver more caffeine than is good for you. The biggest culprit? Added sugar.
While as children, our mums would have filled our bottles with water, by the time we hit our teens, we would have been reaching for soft drinks instead. Into adulthood, our beverage of choice may have turned to coffee or tea. Learn to
say “Siu Dai” instead or look for the
Healthier Choice Symbol on your drinks, and feel better for it!
Calorie-free, affordable and easily available, “sky juice” is still the best. As Mum would say: “Drink more water!” It’s a simple yet effective way of staying healthier.
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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