I drank only water for a month - this is what happened…

By Danielle van Wyk

There are many different opinions on how much water you should drink daily. The most common advice is 6-8 glasses or 2 litres. Or at least, this is the answer given by beautifully toned women when asked about their secret to a body you’ve only been able to dream of.

But, why that amount? How does one go about it? Those were among the questions that encouraged my month-long experiment.

The theory

There are many health benefits attributed to drinking water. According to nutritionist Lucienne Vogel, some of the bigger ones include that it:

- Flushes out body toxins: Water is instrumental in the processes of sweating and the removal of urine and faeces. It assists the kidneys to extract the waste products from the food and drink that you consume. The kidneys are responsible for fluid regulation in the body. A low water intake can also lead to kidney stones. 

- Assists in cell generation: Water is essential for cells to function optimally. Your body is entirely comprised of cells functioning together to make vital processes occur as they should. Cells are constantly replenishing, and water is one of the biggest contributing factors to this process.

- Lubricates the joints: Your joints are made up of cartilage which contains approximately 80 percent water. Ultimately if your joints are starved of water it could lead to pain, inflammation and a decrease in shock-absorbing ability.

- Hydrates the body and its organs: Dehydration can have a harrowing effect on the body specifically the bigger organs like the brain, heart, skin and colon. Long-term deprivation can result in the organ muscles and processes being hampered.

While there are various studies into how much water is enough to meet daily hydration needs. The common conclusion settles between 1.2 litres to 1.6 litres daily. This however outlines the minimum intake. As a rule of thumb one should always listen to your body and pay attention to what it needs. By the time you are thirsty it often means your body is already dehydrated, adds Vogel.

The challenge

Having always tried to drink a glass of water when waking up and before bed, I was sure I was already cultivating good water drinking habits. But as with most things, there is always room for improvement. So, I challenged myself to a month of 2 litres a day.

The process

The costs

While the water didn’t cost me anything outside of monthly household utility costs, it did save me quite a bit. Seeing as I decided to only drink water for a month, I was saving on my can of Fanta a day. This saved me R12.90 daily - a monthly average of R387. 

The results

Between frequent urination and constantly lugging around my water bottle, the first two weeks were tough. I felt as though my life was being governed by the next sip and frustration set in.

However, it soon became habit and eventually I started seeing changes in my body:

Week 1: I noticed that I was snacking less, and my appetite had slightly decreased.

Week 2:
My skin was clearer and brighter.

Week 3:
I had healthier and more regular bowel habits/movements and I felt lighter.

Week 4:
I started sleeping better and easier and felt more rested.

Eventually I started craving water and if I happened to miss a glass here or there a headache would soon set in alerting me to it.

The verdict

While the results were not as dramatic as cutting out carbs or sugar, there is something to be said for keeping your body hydrated. While 2 litres per day may not always be attainable, my goal is to increase my water intake at a comfortable pace and maintain good drinking habits.

Top tips

Starting a healthy habit is not always easy but it is definitely worth it. Here are a few tips that may help you along your journey:

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