The amount of fluid we need varies from person to person – age, climate, diet and physical activity all have an influence. Intakes of 1.5 to 2 litres of fluids a day are recommended in temperate climates and this includes water and other drinks like squash, fruit juices, tea and coffee. Some of our fluid requirement comes from the food we eat, rather than drinks – this counts too.
Water accounts for a large percentage of what makes up the human body, for example:
- Blood is 83% water
- Muscles are 75% water
- The brain is 74% water
- Bone is 22% water
The role of water
Water is necessary for your body to digest and absorb vitamins and nutrients. It also detoxifies the liver and kidneys, and carries away waste from the body. And when it comes to digestion … it can’t happen without water. Fibre alone cannot aid proper digestive function by itself. Without the presence of water good fibre goes bad and causing constipation and extreme discomfort.
If you’re dehydrated, your blood is literally thicker, and your body has to work much harder to cause it to circulate. As a result, the brain becomes less active, it’s hard to concentrate, and your body feels fatigued.
Benefits of water
- Improve your energy
- Increase your mental and physical performance
- Remove toxins and waste products from the body
- Keep skin healthy and glowing
- Help you lose weight
- Reduce headaches and dizziness
- Allow for proper digestion
Factors that influence water needs
Daily water losses We lose about 700ml of water from our bodies every day, through the skin and when we breathe. We lose another 100ml through faeces, about 1.5 litres as urine and 200ml in normal perspiration. So, even living and breathing in a temperate climate requires us to take in about 2 litres a day just to stay hydrated. Its important to remember that you will also lose considerably more water than normal if you are sick or have diarrhea.
You need to drink additional water in hot or humid weather to help lower your body temperature and to replace what you lose through sweating.
Exercise During exercise our bodies sweat to keep cool, so we must drink to compensate for that fluid loss and to avoid dehydration. A number of studies have shown that maintaining hydration before, during and after taking part in exercise improves performance.
Other effects of dehydration Headaches, tiredness and loss of concentration. It is a problem particularly associated with aging, as older adults are less sensitive to mild dehydration, they tend to drink less, and take longer to rehydrate.
Diabetes – staying safely hydrated
Make a conscious effort to keep yourself hydrated and make water your beverage of choice. Nearly every healthy adult can consider the following:
- Drink a glass of water with each meal and between each meal.
- Take water breaks instead of coffee or tea breaks.
- Substitute sparkling water for alcoholic drinks at social gatherings.
- If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime, or a small amount of a no-added sugar squash for flavour.
If you drink water from a bottle, thoroughly clean or replace the bottle often. Every time you drink, bacteria from your mouth contaminate water in the bottle. If you use a bottle repeatedly, make sure that the bottle is designed for reuse. To keep it clean, wash your container in hot, soapy water or run it through a dishwasher before refilling it.