Updated: Jan 14, 2022
A lot of new clients ask why we always offer visitors bottled mineral water, while they are waiting for their appointment. The reason is simple: we want you to stay hydrated!
You lose around a litre of water each day just by going to the bathroom, and moisture lost through exhalation could fill a soft drink can by day's end. The biggest loss however, is from sweating. Sweating is proportional to your metabolic load: pottering around the house can shed anything between one-and-a-half to three litres a day, while an intense workout in hot conditions can see you lose up to ten. The half million sweat glands in your feet alone will shed a half-pint before bedtime.
Every patient is offered water when they arrive at the clinic, and almost all will have finished the whole thing before being called in. Even on a chilly day like today, the water goes down a treat. And while it's only common courtesy to offer our guests refreshment, it's sometimes a great visual aid to help them realise how quickly we can ignore signs of thirst.
Buster Keaton in Sherlock Jr. © Cohen Media 2019
While there's a whole host of blogs and websites that will tell you about the virtues of staying hydrated, it becomes lot trickier trying to get a definitive figure when asking Google "How much water should I drink each day?"
The NHS plays it safe at 1.5-2 litres daily, while various UK health and wellness sites promote 2+ litres a day. Some American websites on the other hand state that women should aim for 2.5 litres daily, with men being pushed to drink around 4.5 litres - almost 8 pints.
If you're having difficulty visualising that much extra fluid in your body, I'm not surprised. The blood volume in the average human is around 10 pints, or almost 8% of your bodyweight, so drinking 8 pints can be something of a tall order. What makes it worse is that many of these websites treat water almost like a separate element, something that enters and leaves the body without any sort of interaction with the rest of you.
That's about as far from the truth as you can get: the moment water passes through your stomach and enters your small intestine, its absorbed into the bloodstream, where it travels across the entire body. Water forms saliva, helps lubricates your joints and even provides a natural shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord, while the brain itself uses water to manufacture hormones and vital neurotransmitters such as dopamine (the chemical that give you the runner's high) and serotonin (which helps manage sleep routines). From flushing away toxins through the kidneys, to helping relieve the signs of a tension headache, a little goes a long way.
Keeping water balance in your body isn't that complicated, and unlike poor Buster above, you don't need to drown yourself* in water to stay on top of your hydration. In Part 2, we'll look at water, the kidneys and the skin.
* Poor Buster didn't drown - in fact he broke his neck as the weight of several thousand tonnes of water hit his spine. Despite blinding headaches and almost blacking out, his exceptional physical conditioning allowed him to carry on filming all his own stunts. It was almost a decade later that the fractured vertebrae was noticed during an x-ray.