The benefits of drinking water are huge. It keeps you hydrated, boosting energy levels, preventing headaches, flushing out toxins and helping regulate your body temperature.
We’re advised to drink around six to eight glasses a day. “It’s just a general rule of thumb,” says Karen Preece Smith, nutritional therapist for the Institute for Optimum Nutrition. “And it’s mostly sufficient unless you are getting sweaty from exercise, then you would need to replenish with extra water.”
Symptoms that indicate you’re not drinking enough, and may be dehydrated, include: increased thirst, headaches, fatigue, a dry mouth, brain fog, dizziness, constipation and darker, smaller amounts of pee.
In a heatwave, you may find yourself drinking even more water – especially when you’re out in the sun – to stay hydrated. But for some (me included) that can also means needing to empty your bladder what feels like every five seconds.
“While wanting to use the loo often can be annoying for some, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking about six to eight glasses of fluid a day,” says Sarah Coe, nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation. “Needing to pee may be inevitable when drinking more fluids. Urine is the main way our body gets rid of the excess water, as our kidneys work to maintain a normal water balance.”
Are there any ways to counterbalance this, while still staying hydrated? “What can help is sipping water or other fluids regularly throughout the day, rather than having large amounts in one go,” explains Coe.
Preece Smith also recommends sipping water as the best way to stay hydrated. “It’s better to drink water by sipping it, preferably from a glass,” she says.
“When we drink from a bottle, which is common practice these days, we tend to drink just enough to satisfy the immediate thirst, but really it is best to drink a whole glass, sip by sip.
“Gulping water from a bottle – or even drinking a full glass very quickly – can leave you bloated and uncomfortable. A tip for anyone who forgets to drink water, is to fill a jug in the morning to be poured into a glass, then you can see just how much you are drinking throughout the day.”
Other tips from Aishah Iqbal, a medical doctor and nutritionist, include reducing caffeine intake – “caffeine is a natural diuretic, and diuretics will make you want to go to the loo more often” – and doing pelvic floor exercises (for both men and women!). “These can help improve bladder control because the pelvic floor muscles are involved in this process,” she says. “The benefits of these exercises are vast so definitely something to consider adding into your day.”
And lastly, how often during the day should we be needing a wee? “There a no set rules about this,” says Preece Smith. “Obviously if you suddenly start to drink more water you will be needing to urinate more often, but eventually the body self-regulates and the frequency lessens.”