Water - 'isn't that what you put in your whisky?'
Updated: Mar 8
Water - all you need to know. It's not just for the whisky!
My wonderful father George famously said this when told he should be drinking more water at the ripe old age of 97! Just to balance out his point of view - George grew almost everything he ate in his large and beautiful Scottish garden, ‘this was in the ground half an hour ago!’ was a frequent comment at the dinner table. After his retirement he spent most of every day outdoors tending the garden year round and in the evenings he loved to relax to his favourite music, Bach, Chopin, Lizst and Debussy with my Mum, Pam (a superb cook). He achieved balance in his long life.
Nowadays the picture can be very different. We don’t get organic and super fresh nutrients in our diet on a daily basis like George did. We tend to eat too quickly, at irregular times of day and we generally consume too much sugar, salt and additives in our diets. Maintaining homeostasis is a far greater challenge today than it has ever been and YES….we do need to pay more attention to how much water we drink.
In the UK the NHS recommends that we drink 6 to 8 cups of fluid daily. However there isn’t a set amount that’s right for everyone as we are all different. A rough guide is 2 litres per day for a woman and around 3 litres for a man. Water, low fat milk and sugar-free drinks all count in your daily intake. As the cheapest and arguably the most convenient choice, water also brings the greatest benefits as it is so easily assimilated by the body – after all our body’s are made up of approximately 60% water. Every cell inside us requires water to function efficiently. Water flushes out the toxins from our body, aids thermoregulation, helps to lubricate our joints, maintains cellular health, aids digestion, and the spread of nutrients into our body tissues and blood.
Do we sometimes need more?
When we exercise and in warmer weather, we need more water than usual and during illness such as diarrhoea, virus, fever, in pregnancy and whilst breast-feeding we need even more than we might expect. You may not know that the primary cause of headaches is dehydration.
Conversely, its important to know that in kidney disease or in heart failure the amount of water we drink may have to decrease and this is something to talk to your health professional about.
The effects of dehydration.
Starved of water we can become confused, dizzy, suffer dips in concentration, loss of short term memory and even have a seizure. Fatigue, particularly at midday, is a common sign of dehydration. Dehydration can lead to kidney stones and it is a known factor in around 20% of cases. Our mood can also be altered with feelings of anxiety, irritability and frustration and as we become more dehydrated our ability to think straight and realise we need water, diminishes. Our body naturally loses water every day via our sweat glands, our breath, urine and bowel movements. If we are unable to eat like George, we need to help our body along with a steady replenishment.
The Pendulum effect….
Many people are chronically dehydrated without even realising they are. Even if we consume the correct amount of water daily, we often deplete our body’s water supply regularly by drinking the wrong types of drinks. These are most often caffeinated drinks, alcohol and in addition a high sodium diet also depletes our natural fluid balance. It is vital that we top up with water and refrain from overwhelming it’s good effect by tipping the pendulum in the opposite direction.
Why not wait until I’m thirsty?
Thirst can be a flag to the body a little on the late side as we are usually already dehydrated when that signal kicks in. One research study found that drinking cold water has the additional benefit of boosting your metabolism significantly as the body has to produce energy to warm the water once its in your body.
Can we drink too much water?
Yes! This is known as Hyponatremia and it can be fatal. If we drink more than our kidneys are capable of eliminating then we run the risk of suffering from hyponatremia. We would have to be drinking between 20 to 28 litres a day to be at risk. Don’t try this!
Myth busting – does drinking water before or with food dilute your stomach acid?
No. In fact drinking water during or after a meal aids your digestive process. It also can have a positive effect if you suffer from acid reflux as drinking water helps to balance the PH of acidic food. If you drink a cup of water before you eat you may feel full more quickly which can also help you if you are trying to lose a little excess weight.
Homeopathy for dehydration.
If you suffering from acute dehydration you may have suffered a bout of diarrhoea, sickness, fever, excessive perspiration or sunstroke for example, there are a number of remedies you can take to support yourself whilst you seek professional help. Symptoms you may experience are increased thirst, headache, dry mouth & eyes, dizziness on rising, fatigue or darker urine than normal. If these symptoms are mild you can safely home prescribe but if you develop a rapid heart rate, confusion, an inability to walk or talk coherently, seizure or poor skin elasticity you must seek emergency medical help immediately.
Some homeopathic remedies which can support you during mild dehydration.
Aethisa, Arsenicum Album, Camphora, Cuprun Met, Carbo Veg, CHINA, Glonoine, Ipecac, Lachesis, Lycopodium, Natrum Mur, Phosphoric Acid, Secale Cor Selenium, Trillium
Here is a link to an online repertory so you can look up the remedy pictures:
Buy a good quality water filter for your tap water and if you buy water, try to ensure it is sold in a glass bottle rather than a plastic one. Plastic containers contain BPA (Bisphenol A). This substance releases estrogenic activity particularly when exposed to common stresses such as microwaving or ultraviolet radiation. This can seriously disrupt our endocrine systems and have a toxic effect on our general health – Avoid at all cost!
Here’s some published, peer reviewed research if you want to find out more:
Ganio MS, Armstrong LE, Casa DJ, McDermott BP, Lee EC, Yamamoto LM, Marzano S, Lopez RM, Jimenez L, Le Bellego L, Chevillotte E, Lieberman HR. Mild dehydration impairs cognitive performance and mood of men. Br J Nutr. 2011 Nov;106(10):1535-43. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511002005. Epub 2011 Jun 7. PMID: 21736786.
Embon OM, Rose GA, Rosenbaum T. Chronic dehydration stone disease. Br J Urol. 1990 Oct;66(4):357-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410x.1990.tb14954.x. PMID: 2224429.
Benton D, Young HA. Do small differences in hydration status affect mood and mental performance? Nutr Rev. 2015 Sep;73 Suppl 2:83-96. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuv045. PMID: 26290294.
M.J. McKinley, M.J. Cairns, D.A. Denton, G. Egan, M.L. Mathai, A. Uschakov, J.D. Wade, R.S. Weisinger, B.J. Oldfield, Physiological and pathophysiological influences on thirst, Physiology & Behavior, Volume 81, Issue 5, 2004, Pages 795-803, ISSN 0031-9384,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2004.04.055.
Armstrong LE, Ganio MS, Casa DJ, Lee EC, McDermott BP, Klau JF, Jimenez L, Le Bellego L, Chevillotte E, Lieberman HR. Mild dehydration affects mood in healthy young women. J Nutr. 2012 Feb;142(2):382-8. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.142000. Epub 2011 Dec 21. PMID: 22190027.
Handbook of Non Drug Intervention (HANDI) Project Team. Pre-meal water consumption for weight loss. Aust Fam Physician. 2013 Jul;42(7):478. PMID: 23826600.
Yang CZ, Yaniger SI, Jordan VC, Klein DJ, Bittner GD. Most plastic products release estrogenic chemicals: a potential health problem that can be solved. Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Jul;119(7):989-96. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1003220. Epub 2011 Mar 2. PMID: 213676