Drinking water for health

One and a half to two liters of water should be drunk every day, is the prevailing teaching. But what happens if I drink too little? Can I drink too much? And does it really only have to be water? Optimum hydration is crucial for our health and performance, but only a few basic principles must be observed.

First of all, water is the largest component of the human body. It is a means of transport for nutrients, a solvent for vitamins and also contains electrolytes that are important for the metabolism and function of body cells. It ensures that the blood does not thicken, because this would be dangerous for many organs, especially the heart and brain. In addition, the body's proteins and enzymes work better in thin than thick blood. Overall, water is therefore very important. If the body gets too little water, a distribution mechanism starts immediately. The aim is to maintain the water content at the most important points, e. g. in the blood and brain. And it is withdrawn from the body where it is not so acutely needed, for example in the intestine, in the joints or in the intervertebral discs. Therefore, a constant slight lack of water can lead to digestive problems as the bowel movement becomes too tight. It can also lead to joint pain, inflammation of the joints or back pain. In most cases, these water-saving measures cannot completely prevent the blood from thickening, which in turn increases the risk of a stroke or heart attack. Further consequences of a chronic lack of water are restricted kidney function, skin damage because the skin cells dry out, high blood pressure, a higher strain on the heart and, of course, a reduced ability to think because the brain has - in relation to its size - the highest water requirement. If a person does not drink enough, a harmless infection can also have serious consequences. Such an infection is usually brought down by the body itself with fever or diarrhoea. If the water is lacking, these regulatory mechanisms are disturbed.

Maybe you're thinking now: This can't happen to me, because I always drink when I'm thirsty. However, many people suffer from a slight lack of water because they do not know the first signs of dehydration. It is not the dry mouth that occurs relatively late. So if you only drink when your tongue sticks to the palate, you are already suffering from a slight lack of water. Therefore, pay attention to the first signs of a decline in performance such as fatigue, restlessness, irritability. It is best if you put up a big bottle of water every day - at home or at work - and empty it all over the day. So you drink automatically enough and above all regularly. Your body uses up and permanently loses water, so you have to refill it regularly. It is best to drink a glass every two hours. Forcing yourself down two litres at a time to stop thinking about drinking water is no longer an option.

But what should you drink? Water, unsweetened herbal teas and diluted juices are best suited for normal use. This means above all: no milk shakes or lemonades to quench your thirst, because they contain too many calories. But also no cola drinks, even if they are low in calories, because other ingredients can damage the body, such as the acidifying agents phosphate or phosphoric acids, which permanently wash calcium out of the bones.

You only have to worry about drinking too much if you sweat a lot and only drink large amounts of tap water. Then there is the risk of "water poisoning" in which the various body salts become unbalanced. This can lead to disorientation and can also threaten brain functions. After all, tap water is low in salt and therefore leads to a high intake of sodium loss in the blood. If you sweat a lot, for example because it is hot or because you do intensive exercise, you lose additional body salts. Therefore, you should not only drink pure tap water in these cases, but a mineral water with a medium sodium content.

By the way, you can add the morning coffee to the daily amount of liquid. In the past, it was thought to be draining. Today we know that this is only the case with occasional coffee drinkers. If you regularly drink two or three cups of coffee a day, your body changes its mechanisms so that the water is not lost. The custom of serving coffee with a glass of water is therefore not intended to compensate for a loss of liquid. Rather, the water should make the taste buds receptive to the next sip of coffee.

Copyright: Landeszentrale fuer Gesundheitsfoerderung in Rheinland-Pfalz (LZG) Germany