From boosting your mood to helping you focus: why water works wonders for your wellbeing

Staying hydrated improves everything from digestion to heart health and brain function. So how do we make sure we’re drinking the right amount?

What if you woke up tomorrow and found a miracle product had been invented? A great elixir that not only energises you but helps improve everything from your digestion to heart health and brain function. Oh, and it can help you feel happier, too.

Imagine this natural product turned out to be cheap, simple to consume and available – in most parts of the world – quite literally on tap. How amazing would that be?

Of course, such a “product” has been around for a while – billions of years, in fact: it’s called water and it’s absolutely fundamental to our health and wellbeing. Drinking plenty of clean water makes us feel good and it’s really worth getting into the habit of staying hydrated.

The NHS says the average person needs to drink six to eight glasses of water or other fluids each day – around 1.5 litres in total. However, the word “average” shouldn’t be taken as gospel, as we’re all different and a lot depends on your environment, what else you’re eating and drinking and whether you’re losing fluids by sweating.

Research suggests that losing as little as 1% of your body weight in fluids may reduce mental performance, and could bring on fatigue and a headache. So how can we make sure we’re drinking the right amount for our body and lifestyle?

Experts say a good way to know whether you are hydrated is to check the colour of your urine: you’re aiming for a pale straw colour. If it’s darker than that, you’re not drinking enough. Other signs of dehydration include feeling thirsty, lightheaded or having a dry mouth.

Smiling businessman in blue shirt talking on cell phone and arranging meeting, looking down in his planner while sitting at black desk in his office.
The best way to drink water is to sip during the day, and take an approach of ‘little and often’. Photograph: Miquel Llonch/Stocksy United

Once you get in the rhythm of drinking enough water each day, you are likely to have more energy and better concentration. All of this can help boost your mood.

The overall feeling of wellbeing that water brings is the welcome outcome of a long list of specific benefits of drinking plenty of H20. Water helps you keep the good stuff in your body (making it easier for you to absorb certain vitamins and delivering oxygen throughout your system) and get the bad stuff out (assisting your kidneys as they flush out the waste).

Water also has a series of other health benefits. It cushions sensitive tissues, including the brain and spinal cord. It helps to normalise your blood pressure, stabilise your heartbeat and stop you from getting constipated.

If you’re not convinced yet that water is your best friend, then note that drinking plenty of water can also make you feel full quicker at mealtimes and boost your metabolism.

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The BRITA Active filter bottle filters water as you drink Photograph: PR

By now you probably want to get guzzling, but hold on a moment before you run to the tap. It is possible to drink too much water and the consequences can be serious. Hyponatremia is a condition where you drink so much water that you dilute your sodium levels (one of the key electrolytes in your body) to such a low level that it can lead to serious illness or even death. But don’t worry. According to a report from 2020, it is difficult to drink too much by accident. You’d probably need to down three to four litres of water in a short period to develop hyponatremia, and that is likely to be more than most of us would even try to drink.

Something that may come as a surprise is that there are correct ways to consume water. The best way to drink it is to sip throughout the day, rather than gulp loads in one go. Your body will absorb more of the water, which will boost its positive effects and mean you don’t need to keep popping to the toilet every 15 minutes.

So rather than avoiding water all day and then chugging down your daily intake in one go, make sipping water part of the rhythm of your day and take an approach of “little and often”.

All drinks containing water contribute towards your daily needs. Even caffeinated beverages such as tea and coffee put water in your system. But there is no better way to drink water than to simply … drink pure water.

The good news is that drinking pure water doesn’t need to involve buying endless bottles that harm the environment and dent your wallet. You can turn your tap water into great tasting, freshly filtered water by investing in a water filter from BRITA. These filter out chlorine and other taste-impairing substances, but preserve minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

BRITA’s sustainable alternatives to bottled water include water filter jugs and carafes. The BRITA Active filter bottle, which filters water as you drink, is simple to carry and attaches easily to a backpack or bag, so you can stay topped up, and enjoy all the many benefits of being hydrated, even on busy days.

A simple change like drinking more water will do wonders for your wellbeing. Head to BRITA for more information

Contributor

Chas Newkey-Burden

The GuardianTramp

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