Many people underestimate the importance of water in the body. Proper hydration of the body is the one of the most essential components to your daily diet but unfortunately, most people neglect it. Water is the main constituent of the human body: it is normally about 60% of body weight in adult males and is slightly lower, about 50-55% in adult females. The muscles and the brain are about 75% water, the blood and the kidneys are about 81%, the liver is about 71%, the bones are about 22% and adipose tissue is about 20%.
Why is water so important?
Your body depends on water to survive. Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to work correctly. Although we can live for up to 50 days without food, without water we will only survive a few days! Water plays many important roles within the body. It is the major part of most of the body’s cells and it also cushions and lubricates the brain and the joints. It transports nutrients and carries waste away from the body cells. It also helps regulate body temperature by redistributing heat from active tissues to the skin and cooling the body through perspiration. Therefore, bottom line, appropriate hydration of the body is an absolute requirement for health and is essential for life itself. Water sustains the body’s many vital chemical reactions and maintains correct body functions.
How does my body lose water?
Water leaves our bodies through skin and in breath all the time, amounting to about 700ml each day. We lose another 100ml through faeces, about 1.5 litres as urine, and 200ml in normal perspiration. So, just living and breathing in a temperate climate requires about 2.5 litres a day! Exercise and rises in temperature increases perspiration, loss of water and hence, fluid requirements. During sickness and diarrhoea, losses of water will also increase considerably.
How do I know if I’m dehydrated?
Look out for these tell-tale symptoms that you could be dehydrated, your body will tell you if you need to be drinking more water!
- Very little urine, or urine that is a darker colour than usual.
- Dry mouth
- Sleepiness or fatigue
- Extreme thirst
- Dizziness or lightheaded
People who are at higher risk of dehydration include people with certain medical conditions such as kidney stones or a bladder infection, if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, if you are exercising at a high intensity, if you are working outdoors in hot weather, if you have a fever, or if you have been vomiting/have diarrhoea.
If you are concerned that you may not be drinking enough water, a good indicator is the colour of your urine. In general, the lighter the colour, the better hydrated you are.
How much water do I need to drink each day?
You may have heard many difference recommendations in terms of how much water you need to be drinking daily such as 8 glasses etc. The truth is we really should be drinking enough to balance the water losses which I spoke about above (approx. 2.5 litres). The metabolic processes in our bodies produce about 250ml, and we get another 750ml from our food. This leaves 1.5 litres to be supplied from drinks. And if you’re exercising etc., you need to be taking in even more. That’s why here at ACLAÍ, we recommend our clients to be drinking 2-3 litres of water every day.
Tips for staying hydrated!
- Always keep a bottle of water with you during the day, at work or at school. Purchasing bottled water is expensive so carry a reusable water bottle and fill it from the tap instead.
- If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon/lime or even a few pieces of fruit to make it more appetizing.
- Make sure to drink water before, during and after a workout.
- When you’re feeling hungry, drink some water. Thirst is often confused with hunger. Drinking water may also contribute to a healthy weight-loss plan. Some research suggests that drinking water can help you feel fuller for longer.
- If you have trouble remembering to drink water during the day, try to drink it on a schedule. For example, drink water when you wake up, at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and before you go to bed. Or drink a small glass of water at the beginning of each hour.
- Don’t overdo it either! Although it is unusual, it is possible to become unwell by drinking too much water so knowing how much your body needs is important.
So, if you are reading this and know you don’t drink enough water (and I’m sure most of you who are don’t!), try to make a conscious effort to drink more and make it a permanent change in your lifestyle. Stay hydrated in order to stay healthy! Start guzzling!
This article was written by ACLAÍ Coach, Claire.