"Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink” .. Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Keeping the body well hydrated is similar to keeping a car well oiled, without it, both the performance and functioning will deteriorate. Many of our vital functions rely on an adequately hydrated body in order to perform at all. These include the carrying of essential nutrients and glucose to our cell, the removal of waste products from our kidneys, the lubrication of our eyes and joints, healthy skin as well as improving concentration.
The average adult body is around 70% (like Earth) water with the heart and brain composed of 73%, lungs 83% with the skin containing 64%. With such a high percentage of water in our bodies, the need to maintain hydrated is very important.
The body regulates its temperature through perspiration when hot, prevents over heating, but will also result in the loss of salts and minerals, all of which will require replacing. The loss fluids doesn’t just occur from perspiring alone, a natural amount of water is lost through the daily activity of living. This occurs when sleeping, eating, bathing, walking and every time we breath out, we deplete a little of our reserves. More often than not, dehydration is associated sport or some physical activity. The consumption of alcohol can quickly dehydrate the body with the desire to rehydrate with more alcohol having little or no effect .
Dehydration affects different people in different ways. Noticeable affects being lethargy, a loss of concentration, headaches, dizziness and bad breath. Long term dehydration can also be associated with the formation of kidney stones.
How much to drink?
The amount of liquid we need varies between all of us. Height, weight and age will all affect how much you should drink. The suggested amount for an adult is anywhere from 1.5-2 litres per day or 8-10 glass(200 ml) . For children, they require a little less with the target being anywhere between 6-8 glasses per day. Generally the older you become, the less likely you are to rehydrate yourself. How much you need to drink can also depend on climates, seasons, altitude, pre or post sport.
When to drink?
Drinking a little, but often is the best answer. By the time you feel thirsty, a drink may eliminate the dry mouth, but not a dehydrated body. The colour of your urine is usually the best indicator: Pale or lightly coloured urine is a great sign, whereas the darker the urine is a sign that that the body needs some / a lot of fluid.
What counts as a liquid?
The debate on what to drink will depend on who you ask, simply, any non alcohol liquid will generally do. Water, would count as the best, but studies have shown that tea, coffee, fruit juice, milk and fizzy drinks can all count as part of your liquid intake. Although coffee and tea contain small amount of caffeine, the benefits of the fluid can outweigh the one from the diuretics . Many of the isotonic sports drinks available contain electrolytes and minerals, great for the replacement of lost salts etc, but are also high in sugar and may have led to the increase in Type 2 diabetes and a growing dental problem.
The fruit and vegetable that make up your 5 a day add between 20-30% of our requirement. Ones that are very effective are tomatoes, cucumbers , apples oranges, melons which are 90% liquid.
With so much of our bodies being made up of water, we should take note and take that as a sign to keep hydrated. As the weather improves and hopefully the temperature, the need to drink more will become even more necessary to maintain the balance.
For something so vital, I still can’t believe how difficult it is to drink enough water each day. One thing I do know, on the days when I do drink enough, the numbers of glasses consumed is match by the number of trip to the loo!!!
So easy to avoid drinking water during the day with a busy life. My wife bought me a clear drinking bottle with some markers on it, that I could easily see what I hadn't drunk during the day ! This little change has increased my water consumption during the morning and afternoon and I tend to take regular sips.