If you’re anything like us, you’re probably reading this holding a steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee. In fact, most people would consider a hot beverage as one of those little pleasures it’s nice to enjoy several times a day.
But have you ever stopped to wonder whether drinking coffee is healthy enough to fulfil your requirement for 1.5 litres of liquid every day?
When researchers talk about this requirement, they’re generally talking about drinking water. But here, at Hacienda Verde, we don’t like throwing stones in glass houses (or our editorial office). And we love our coffee. So let’s take a closer look at the facts.
Is coffee one of the good liquids?
Let’s face it, all your daily cups of coffee are basically water. And as long as you don’t add sugar or sweetener, it’s moderately good for you.
A WHO nutrition study suggests coffee can help prevent liver, prostate, colon, breast and uterine cancers. It can also reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 19% and Type 2 diabetes by around 7%.
Of course, few would drink the 1.5 litres fluids we need each day as coffee to maintain our physical and mental performance. But a cup or two can undoubtedly contribute to a balanced fluid intake.
But are you drinking enough?
Everyone knows it's essential to have a balanced, nutritious diet. But did you know the essential vitamins and minerals you ingest each day can not evaporate halfway through your body unless you also drink a sufficient amount of fluids?
That’s one of the reasons why experts recommend drinking water – your fluid intake is the decisive factor in ensuring healthy cells are distributed throughout the body. You need liquids all day long (not just at meals) for your body to run correctly. When you start feeling thirsty, your body is warning you it's having trouble keeping up.
To make matters worse, your body’s natural thirst is subliminally suppressed when you’re stressed or focussing on something – exactly when you should be upping your intake. And when you're on the move, it's sometimes challenging to take a water break. But if you wait until you've reached your destination, it could already be too late. When you reach approximately 2% fluid loss, your body automatically switches to fatigue mode and begins to shut down peripheral mental and physical functions.
The problem is that thirst is often confused with hunger. And if you eat food when you’re actually thirsty your body can’t process it properly. So your number one rule should be to always take something to drink with you when you leave home. You don’t need a giant, impractical water bottle. These days you can get compact, lightweight and reusable water bottles that will fit easily in any bag or pocket.
It’s also important to keep in mind that as we age our body feels less thirst. We need to keep a closer eye on our fluid balance in our later years to keep our physical and mental performance high. And every drop of water can be helpful to counteract the risk of chronic diseases that plague older people, such as kidney failure.
Why water is so good for you.
Water is an elementary part of our body. Actually, we’re made of almost 50% water. We need to top up this water regularly to aid our metabolism and transport nutrients to our cells. Water also supports the body’s biochemical reactions and, importantly, acts as a ‘coolant’.
Water offers effects hardly any other beverage can deliver. It detoxifies and lowers high blood pressure and fever. It rejuvenates your skin; two glasses drunk in a row can reduce wrinkle depth and increase skin tautness. In fact, you can easily see whether you’ve ingested enough liquids by pinching the skin on the back of your hand to form a fold. If it tightens immediately, you’ve drunk enough. If you’re not drinking enough, your body will raid the skin’s fluid reserves and dry it out. If your skin doesn’t tighten immediately drink a glass of water straight away to boost your metabolism.
Water is the number one drink for our body – either from the tap or as mineral water for added nutrients. But you can also add more taste with a little fruit juice or a delicious, unsweetened fruit and herbal tea and still get the optimal hydration effect.
However, all too often we choose to quench our thirst with sugary soft drinks and energy drinks, beer or alcohol. It’s fine to enjoy these from time to time, but when we’re talking healthy fluids that balance your body, they’re not particularly effective. The high number of additives and sugar stimulate short lived and invigorating body processes that, in the long run, can lead to harmful effects like gastrointestinal discomfort, excess weight or risk of diabetes. Fatally, alcohol also removes fluid from the body. And, if you want a caffeine kick, a cup of coffee is far better for you than an energy drink.
How much water do I need daily?
To find out how much liquid you need a day to keep your brain and cells running properly, try this easy calculation:
- Multiply your body weight in kilograms by 3.
- Add a 0 to the end.
- This is the amount of fluids your body needs to be happy (unless recommended otherwise by a GP).
Here’s an example:
- 75 kg x 3 = 225
- The 0 to it = 2250
- Daily required liquid = 2250 ml = 2.25 liters
Easy ways to add more fluids to your daily routine.
It's hard to drink as much as your body needs daily. But the closer you can get to the magic number of litres that works for your body, the more comfortable you will feel.
Here’s our top 3 tips for boosting your liquid intake:
- Drink small amounts more often. Your body can only store 200 ml of water at a time, so it’s better to top up regularly than try to drink your litres in one gulp.
- Nibble on water. Fruits like watermelon or vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes have a very high water content can have a positive effect on your fluid balance – so you won’t need to glug plain water all at once to feel hydrated.
- Plan your drink breaks. If you're the sort of person who doesn't drink much or doesn't register intense thirst, set a timer on your device to remind you to take regular sips.
Lubricate your body's engine sip by sip for that extra-amount of feeling good.
Editorial office for nutrition: rk