We know we need to hydrate to stay alive, but surprising new stats have revealed that a third of Brits aren’t drinking any water at all.
Not one sip.
The survey, which polled 1,500 people, also found that a fifth of us last drank a glass of water over a week ago.
Despite the recent heatwave, which brought searing temperatures, a shocking 62% of people admit to not drinking the recommended daily allowance of 2.0L - 2.5L.
Reasons for our water-drinking drought range from 46% saying they dislike drinking it to 52% claiming it’s boring and a further half (51%) stating they prefer to drink flavoured liquids like squash.
But drinking water is vital for our overall health and wellbeing and the implications of getting dehydrated, from not drinking enough water, can be pretty serious.
"Keeping hydrated, especially during the warm, summer months is important for so many reasons", says hydration expert Dr Emma Derbyshire.
"The research shows that half (50 per cent) of Brits suffer from headaches as result of being dehydrated and many also feel sleepy (41 per cent) if they haven't had enough fluid.
“As well as the short-term impact, dehydration may also contribute to more long-term effects such as constipation, reduced kidney function and kidney stones, urinary tract infection and mental confusion - so it's vital to ensure fluid intake is in line with recommended guidelines for men and women.”
“The simplest way to tell if you are dehydrated and keep track throughout the day is to look at the colour of your urine,” she adds.
With that in mind, here’s some surprising benefits of upping your H20 intake.
Immune system boost
Want to ward off the dreaded summer cold? Get chugging the clear stuff. “Water is needed to form saliva and mucus which are key components of the immune system,” explains Simply Supplements expert nutritionist Matt Durkin.
A regular fluid intake is important for our complexion. “Hydrated skin helps to give skin a 'plump' look and slows the progression and fine lines and wrinkles,” he explains. “When we are well hydrated, our body can flush out toxins effectively which is also good for our hair and skin.”
Good for the gut
According to Durkin, we need to be adequately hydrated to digest food properly and absorb water-soluble nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin C.
“Drinking plenty of water has been shown to have a beneficial effect on your overall health, especially in the summer,” adds OptiBac Probiotics Gut Microbiologist, Dr Kate Stephens.
“In terms of your gut, water can help promote healthy digestion and reduce the risk of constipation and digestive upset.”
Trying to shift a few pounds? Upping the water intake could help with weight loss. “Water is an excellent safe and natural appetite suppressant,” explains Dr Don Grant of The Independent Pharmacy.
“Many people often mistake thirst for hunger, but drinking water both makes you feel full and briefly increases your metabolism. One study found that consuming half a litre of water boosts metabolism by 30% for up to 40 minutes afterwards.”
Good eye health
H20 has benefits for our eyes too. “If you want to maintain good eye health then it's vital that you drink plenty of water to keep your eyes hydrated,” says Ashish Mathur, Eye Care Expert at Feel Good Contacts.
“All the time in front of a bright screen coupled with air conditioning, heating and bright room lighting can have a negative impact on your eyes, sometimes leading to computer vision syndrome (CVS) when eyes become dry, tired and even strained.
“In addition, use of digital screens often limits the amount of time that we blink, therefore denying our eyes the hydration they need to stay moist and healthy.
Dry eye syndrome is when our eyes have become dried out, as a result of tear ducts no longer producing adequate tears that our eyes need, but it can be improved by upping our water intake.
“Without hydration, your body can no longer produce tears and keep your eyes moisturised. Simply drinking water can help to relieve these symptoms,” Mathur adds.
“Sipping water is one of the best things you can do for your teeth especially if it’s fluoridated drinking water,” says Dr Bill Schaeffer co-founder of The Implant Centre.
Not only does water-sipping help prevent cavities, water is also a great mouth cleaner as it washes away excess food and residue. And according to Dr Schaeffer bacteria left in the mouth can lead to enamel damage and other teeth problems.
“Having adequate saliva in our mouths is a great defence against tooth decay,” he adds. “It not only washes away leftover food and helps you swallow easily but it keeps your teeth strong and healthy.”
“As well as physical benefits, drinking water also provides mental benefits too,” Dr Grant explains. “Mild dehydration can negatively impact brain function and performance. Consequently, keeping your body hydrated ensures your mind performs at its best.”
Lowers blood pressure
One of the potentially serious consequences of dehydration is the fact it can elevate blood pressure, which is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, causing around a third of all deaths worldwide.
“Blood plasma consists mainly of water and when we are dehydrated the blood because more vicious, meaning blood pressure increases and our heart has to work harder,” explains Durkin.
Muscle and brain fuel
Being adequately hydrated is massively important for those who engage in sport and exercise.
“Losing 2% of total water can decrease exercise output by up to 40% and can impair decision making and concentration,” Durkin says.
“Dehydration also leads to fluid loss around the brain which acts as a cushion. There is evidence to suggest that those who are dehydrated are at a higher risk of suffering from concussion, something which can happen in many sports, especially combat sports.”
Believe it or not drinking more water could equal less dandruff. “Dandruff can be treated by drinking water regularly,” says Dr Grant. “Water hydrates your entire body, including your scalp. This prevents dead skin from forming on your head, reducing dandruff as a result.”
Pounding head? We hear you. But chugging the water could help get you back to the land of the living.
“Drinking water in-between alcoholic drinks helps to reduce hangover symptoms in the morning,” says Dr Grant. “It’s also recommended that you drink at least one pint of water before going to bed, if not more. This makes up for the lost fluids and keeps us hydrated overnight.”