We all know that it's important to drink plenty of water - but how much do we really need? And if we don't like water, what can we drink instead?
Our bodies contain lots of water - around 60%, in fact. And we tend to lose it all day long - whenever we visit the bathroom, for example, or just through perspiration. Nursing moms use up a lot of water too!
So it's really important that we consume enough water to replace what we lose, otherwise we risk becoming dehydrated. But how much is enough?
If you're thinking that the answer to that question is '8 cups a day', then you're not alone. That's the number that experts have recommended over the years and is the magic number of glasses of water we all aspire to!
But medical advice changes depending on new research. Experts now say that the amount you need is based on certain factors, like how old you are, your gender, the climate you live in and how much exercise you do.
In general, though, the advice from the Institute of medicine is that women need about 11 cups of water a day and men need around 15.6.
What happens if you don't drink enough water?
Even mild dehydration can have a real impact on your body!
It can cause headcahes, difficulty in concentrating, bad moods, constipation and reduced energy levels. Your skin can suffer too and wrinkles may appear more prominent, because adequate water helps plump up your tissue's cells and keeps you looking youthful.
What if I don't like water?
You have a few good options!
The first is to try adding a little flavor to your water using healthy fruits! Something as simple as a slice of lemon can make plain water more palatable, but you can try adding any fruit you like!
Another important thing to remember is that water doesn't have to be the only thing you consume to replace lost fluids!
Coffee and tea can hydrate you, too (yay), despite the persistent myth that their diuretic effects stop them being useful fluid sources. Soda may hydrate you, but it usually contains lots of sugar too, so it's not a great alternative to water. Neither is alcohol, which does act as a diuretic and leave you even more dehydrated than before!
Lots of fruits and vegetables contain plenty of water, too - especially things like cucumbers and melons. Even meat and fish contain quite a bit of water - so it's actually far easier to consume the recommended amount of water than you might think!
We have some lovely recipes for drinks that will help you reach your daily target! This Raspberry Peach Cottage Cheese Smoothie is packed with protein, too, whilst this Basil Peach Agua Fresca Recipe is perfect for a summer's day! Or why not try this Pumpkin Lassi Recipe, which combines pumpkin, water, yogurt and aromatic spices. Yum!
Working out how much water you should drink is very easy!
You should listen to your body and drink when thirsty, but experts say it is not necessary to force yourself to drink when you have no thirst at all!
If you're breastfeeding, or it's a very hot day, or if you're doing a lot of exercise, then try to make a point of drinking some extra water to make up for the extra fluid you'll lose.