Without water we wouldn’t survive. It is an essential element of our make-up and functioning.
Water regulates our body and ensures that our organs function properly. It carries nutrients to the cells in our bodies and allows the necessary chemical reactions to take place. Through sweating, the body regulates its temperature. Water also keeps us hydrated while helping the body get rid of waste.
South Africa is a water-scarce country, read our article on how you can save water.
Eight glasses a day?
Everyone needs liquid to function. This comes from the water that we drink, as well as other beverages, plus from the food we eat. How much liquid we need to consume on a daily varies depending on a number of factors:
- Adults need more liquid than children and men are likely to need more water than women.
- Exercising will result in our bodies losing more liquid, so replace fluids after doing physical activities.
- Hot and dry weather conditions will result in more fluid loss than cooler weather.
So if we’re not counting glasses of water, how do we know if we’re getting the right amount? Dehydration can be a serious problem, causing our bodies to stop functioning at full capacity, even making us sick. But our bodies are good at regulating our fluid levels. If you aren’t drinking enough, your body will conserve water. On the other hand, if you’re drinking too much, your body will get rid of excess liquid. A good way to ensure your body has enough liquid is to drink when you’re thirsty.
Excessive thirst may be a result of eating salty foods, or exercising. However, it can also be an indicator of a more severe problem. Needing to drink all of the time could suggest that you have high blood sugar, or hyperglycaemia. If there are other symptoms as well, it can be an indicator of diabetes.
Read our article on understanding diabetes.
Bottled or tap?
While we would all like to believe that bottled water comes straight from a glacier, this is seldom the case. Many bottled waters do come from natural sources, while others use water that has undergone treatment. The South African National Bottled Water Association differentiates between types of bottled waters and lists members of this association. For more info: visit sanbwa.org.za
The drinking quality of tap water in South Africa has improved over the last few years. Filtering water is a great option, but changing filters regularly is necessary as dirt can build up in the filter.
What about the flavoured version?
Flavoured, vitamin and other enhanced waters aren’t necessarily a healthier choice. While they may have added vitamins and minerals, they can also have extra artificial colourants and flavourants, and sugar. Plus, they can’t replace a nutritional, healthy diet.