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As you are probably aware, staying well-hydrated is essential to your health. Your body needs water to process your food and move vital chemicals, and the ideal amount of pure water to consume is two litres a day. This may seem like a lot, but there are several ways you can increase your water intake without even noticing it.
First, keep a bottle of water by your bed and take a long drink when you wake up. Having a bottle by your bed also makes it easy to have a drink should you wake in the middle of the night – it's a great way to keep your mouth from going dry, as well.
Keep a bottle of water with you during the day, and sip from it regularly. It's amazing how much water you will find yourself drinking when it is ready at hand. Keeping a refillable bottle at your desk or by your side as you go about your day also helps you to keep track of the water you are drinking: if you have a 500ml bottle, you need to drink only four of these a day to meet your target. (Using a refillable bottle is an environmentally-sound method of carrying water around, too, as you are not throwing away cups or containers.)
Caffeine is a diuretic, and can make your body lose fluids quickly. You may not be able to give up your daily caffeine kick, but you can lessen its effect by drinking a glass of water with your coffee. Cut down on soda drinks: the amount of sugar they contain puts them firmly in the 'treat' category anyway.
Here's an unexpected piece of news: drinking fruit juice all day is not the way to stay healthy or hydrated. The sugars in fruit juice slow your body's ability to absorb fluids, and, although you may be drinking the equivalent of several pieces of fruit, the lack of fruit fibre means that you are getting a high-calorie hit along with your vitamins. Eat pieces of fruit instead – it's much better for you, adds to your fluid intake, and cheaper, too.
Keeping an eye on your hydration is easier when you know the signs of dehydration. How do you know if you aren't well-hydrated? Well, the easiest way to check is to keep an eye on the colour of your urine (slightly gross, but easy enough to do). If your urine is dark, you are not getting enough fluids through your body.
Other signs include a dry mouth, chapped lips, dry or slightly sunken eyes, clammy hands and feet, headaches, dizziness, tiredness or a feeling of burning in the stomach. These can be signs of mild or serious dehydration, so if you experience any one of them it is worthwhile having a glass of water, just in case.
It might seem difficult to take in lots of water on top of other fluids, but once you get into the habit you won't regret it. Taking in constant, small quantities throughout the day (drinking too much at once is, like anything taken to excess, not good), water enables your body to function and even digest the food you eat, helping you to feel healthier and happier.