The truth about water

Medical experts claim our daily intake could be too high.

By Donna Fleming

For years we’ve been told we need to drink at least eight large glasses of water a day for our bodies to function at their best. But now health experts are saying that is not the case.

A review of just how much we need was carried out by physiologists from Dartmouth Medical School in the US, who found there’s no evidence to suggest drinking extra water is crucial for reducing headaches and fatigue, aiding concentrationand eliminating constipation.

They found that the kidneys don’t need to be flushed in order to work properly. If the body is running low, they simply make our urine more concentrated to save water.

While we need an adequate amount of water to carry out functions such as energising muscles, maintaining bowel activity and keeping levels of fluids balanced, eight glasses a day may be overestimating what we really do require.

What we often forget is that many foods contain water. For example, a baked potato is around 75% water, while tomatoes and watermelon are up to 95%. If you’re eating lots of fruit and vegetables, you should be getting a good amount of fluid from your food.

If you’re rarely thirsty and produce around a litre and a half of light-coloured urine a day, you are probably drinking enough.

If your urine is dark-coloured and has a strong smell, or you notice symptoms including increased thirst, headaches, dry mouth, cracked lips, lethargy, dizziness and confusion, you are most likely dehydrated and should try to drink more.

There are times when you may need to make a conscious effort to increase the amount you drink. If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, very sporty, it’s hot, you’re travelling by plane or on certain medications, you will need more water.

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