Every day, we need to drink enough water so that each cell in our body works as well as possible. Given that we lose around 2.5 litres of water per day, we need to constantly top up the amount of water available to our bodies. So what are the health consequences of not drinking enough?
How much water do we need to drink per day?
It is recommended that we drink 1.5 litres of water per day, without waiting to feel thirsty, because thirst is a sign of dehydration. However, it is recommended that pregnant women, sportspeople and people who are ill drink even more -around 2 litres per day.
What are the health risks if we don’t drink enough water?
Not drinking enough water generally leads to dehydration, which can cause:
- vaginal dryness
- drying out of the skin
- premature ageing
- in extreme cases, death
It is possible to die from extreme dehydration. The heatwave in Summer 2003 caused 70,000 deaths in Europe. This is why older people or people with weakened immune systems need to pay particular attention in very high temperatures.
What are the benefits of drinking enough water?
Several studies (Benton and Burgess, 2009; Booth et al., 2012; Edmonds and Burford, 2009; Edmonds and Jeffes, 2009 ; Fadda et al., 2012) have shown that optimal hydration improves cognitive performance, vitality and mood. These studies were mainly carried out on students and children. During an experiment, people who had taken in 2 litres of water obtained better results and faster times than those who had ingested less than 1 litre.
However, you should not drink more than 3 litres of water per day.
What kind of water should you drink?
Mineral water, spring water and tap water come from ground water and are drilled. Their quality is generally good because their are drawn from fairly deep sources which are unpolluted.
Although water may be treated with chlorine, this is not dangerous as it is eliminated by the body. The problem of contaminated water mainly arises due to old and oxidised plumbing.
Mineral water is rich in certain minerals, with dry residue levels of over 300 mg/l on average. Spring water by contrast is a neutral water in which the dry residues are around 150 mg/l.
It is better to drink spring water or water that does not have high levels of minerals for daily consumption, because the water you drink needs to transport toxins from the body. However if the water is too rich in minerals, the body will have to filter these minerals from the water.
Furthermore, overconsumption of mineral water can cause constipation or kidney stones in children, because of the calcium. The sodium can lead to water retention and high blood pressure. It is recommended that you limit yourself to a only few days of magnesium intake at a time.