08 Jul 2022
Water is essential to our health. We literally can’t survive without it. Whilst many adults could survive for weeks without food (although it’s not recommended), humans cannot survive for more than a couple of days without water.
As adults, our bodies are made up of about 60% water. H2O makes up our tissues, it serves as a lubricant for our joints, creates saliva and gastric juices, transports nutrients around our body and regulates our body temperature amongst many other functions. Our bodies are constantly losing water through bodily functions such as sweat and bowel movements, even simply by breathing you are expelling water! For this reason our water stores need to be replenished regularly.(1)
If you exercise a lot, tend to sweat more than the average person or are simply just living through a hot summer, you will have to pay even more attention to ensuring that you stay hydrated!
When it comes to staying hydrated, most of us just think about water (H2O). Of course water is a major part of the equation, however it’s also about electrolyte and carbohydrate balance. Electrolytes include sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, calcium and phosphorus. Too much or too little water can upset the electrolyte balance in our body. All electrolytes work together to ensure that our cells function properly, thus keeping them balanced is essential to our health.(2)
Therefore, staying hydrated is more than just drinking sufficient water, the food you eat also plays a major role. We can achieve a balance of water, electrolytes and carbohydrates through what we eat and drink.
A balanced varied diet full of fruits and vegetables and between 2 to 3 litres of water per day covers most people’s hydration needs. It’s important to note that hydration requirements can vary widely between individuals and that “8 cups per day” as a one-size fits all approach is a myth. In fact, how much water you need depends on many factors from age to gender, body weight, activity level and other health conditions!(3)
Luckily it is relatively easy to tell if you are not getting enough fluids. One of the first ways to see whether you are adequately hydrated is to observe the colour of your urine. Light yellow or clear is ideal and means that you are well hydrated. Darker colours like deep yellow can indicate that you need to drink more fluids. Other signs of dehydration include dry mouth, sleepiness or brain fog, difficulty concentrating, headaches, dizziness and infrequent urination.(4)
Signs of more severe dehydration include extreme thirst, confusion, irritability, rapid heartbeat and fever. Hopefully the early signs of dehydration (urine colour) should be enough for you to take action and avoid reaching the severe dehydration stage.
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