Hydration and health: Everything you need to know

May 20, 2021
4 minute read

Keeping yourself properly hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of fluids is essential for ensuring the normal functioning of your body, and for maintaining good health.

Drinking plenty of fluids goes beyond promoting better health – it also prevents several conditions such as kidney stones, urinary tract infections and constipation.

In this blog, we discuss hydration in detail, covering everything you need to know: the role and importance of water in the human body, signs and symptoms of dehydration, how much water you need to drink each day, the benefits of proper hydration, and much more!

The role of water in the human body

Water plays a large number of crucial roles in the human body, including but not limited to:

  • Aids in carrying oxygen and vital nutrients throughout the body
  • Regulates the body’s temperature
  • Lubricates the joints, and makes up the saliva
  • Protects the brain, spinal cord and foetus by absorbing shocks
  • Helps the body get rid of toxins through urine production

Signs and symptoms of dehydration

Dehydration simply means that your body is losing more fluids than it takes in. Over the long term, dehydration can become a serious, even life-threatening issue.

The simplest way to see if you are dehydrated is to observe the colour of your urine. If it’s dark, this is a good indicator that you are dehydrated, and that you need to drink more throughout the day.

Other signs and symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Thirst
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness, fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dry mouth, eyes and lips
  • Urinating rarely and in small amounts

Severe dehydration has more serious symptoms, such as:

  • Seizures
  • Feeling very tired and confused
  • A weak or rapid pulse
  • A low level of consciousness

Try drinking just a bit more everyday and you’ll notice a difference in no time!

How much water should I drink in a day?

The British Dietetic Association recommends your drink the following daily amounts:

Men – 2L or roughly 8 to 10 drinks/day

Women – 1.6L or roughly 6 to 8 drinks/day

This general recommendation should be a good starting point towards better hydration.

It’s important to note, however, that your body’s requirements can vary depending on many factors, such as:

  • Exercise – large amounts of water will be lost through sweat while exercising
  • Age – older individuals can become dehydrated more easily as their sensation of thirst decreases
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding – likewise leads to higher daily fluid requirements
  • Illness- vomiting or diarrhoea can lead to rapid loss of fluids
  • Alcohol consumption – alcohol leads to an increased production of urine, which can result in rapid dehydration
  • Hot and dry environments - being in environments such as an air-conditioned office or warm home can lead to more water loss through sweat

As we can see, many things can influence your fluid requirements. Start with the official recommendations for daily fluid consumption, and then assess to see how you feel.

Top tips for better hydration  

It’s easy to forget to drink sometimes, but by incorporating a few strategies into your day-to-day life, you’ll find that keeping yourself properly hydrated is easily achievable.

Here are a few tips to help you:

  • Carry a bottle of water with you throughout the day
  • Drink a glass of water before/after a main meal
  • Drink more tea, but remember to not have any caffeinated teas before bed
  • Add some flavour – go for low-sugar squash
  • Consider getting an app that reminds you to drink at regular intervals
  • Add more water-rich foods into your diet (fruits, vegetables, soups, milk)

Benefits of proper hydration  

Water plays a crucial role in many processes that are essential for the functioning of the human body. Obtaining adequate levels of hydration is essential to maintain good health and can even prevent the development of some conditions.

On top of this, increasing your water intake can also have some important and understated benefits.

Drinking plenty of water has the potential to lower your blood pressure, protect your kidney and gastrointestinal function, and contributes to good skin health.

Moreover, the benefits of drinking water may also extend to neurological function, preventing headaches, and increasing your mood and overall cognition.

Drinking plenty of water can also help maintain a healthy body weight.

To learn more about hydration and health, please check out these articles from the NHS: Water, drinks and your health; Dehydration.

Got a question about hydration? Our friendly pharmacy team is here to provide guidance and advice to everyone, for free. Get in touch with our pharmacy team today!

Content last reviewed on:
May 20, 2023
Next review date:
May 20, 2025
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