Do you have regular daily bowel movements? If you’re not drinking enough water the answer is probably no. When we become dehydrated our bodies draw water from the bowel back into the bloodstream, drying the contents of the bowel and slowing the movement of the stool through the large intestine. If your bowel movements are irregular or sluggish, or your stool is dark and difficult to pass, you probably need more water!
Our bodies are made up of around 60% water. We need water for energy, for our brains to function properly, to maintain a healthy weight, for regular bowel movements, and to maintain a healthy blood pressure. We lose water every day through our sweat, breath, urine and poo. If we don’t replace it regularly throughout the day we can become dehydrated.
Our joints are surrounded by synovial fluid which cushions and protects them, and around 70-80% of joint cartilage is made of water. Similarly, the discs between the vertebrae of the spine are made up of fluid which is partly water. If you suffer with joint or back pain, make sure you avoid becoming dehydrated as these important fluids will become depleted and make your pain worse.
For those taking medication it’s especially important that we’re drinking enough water. Most drugs and their metabolites are eliminated from the body in urine or bile (secreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder) so we need to support our kidney and liver function to flush these from our systems, and drinking enough water is one way of doing that.
What are the signs of dehydration?
- Joint pain
- Muscle cramps
- Brain fog
- Dry mouth
- Itchy or dry skin
- Low blood pressure
6 tips to increase your water intake
- Try to drink a minimum of 1.5 litres of plain (filtered if possible) water every day. If you exercise you’ll need to drink more.
- Drink steadily throughout the day, not just in the morning and evening.
- Buy a 500ml reusable water bottle and take it with you wherever you go, and aim to get through 3 refills by the end of the day.
- You might find you need to go to the loo more often but this will be temporary while your bladder gets used to this amount of liquid.
- If you don’t like water or find it boring, you can add slices of lemon, lime, cucumber or ginger root to it.
- If you like a hot drink in the morning, make a cup of warm water and squeeze the juice of half a lemon into it (add a slice of ginger root if you like) – this helps to improve your digestion and liver function, and can be counted in your water intake for the day.