Fundamentals of keeping hydrated
Of everything we consume water is perhaps the most essential in maintaining health. It is vital to almost every system in the body. A lack of water leads to dehydration, the initial symptoms of which are headaches, a lack of energy, dizziness and dark urine. After 3 days without consuming water, dehydration can eventually lead to death.
Functions of water in the body
- Regulation of body temperature of through sweat. As we lose more water through sweat in hotter temperatures, in cold temperatures we wee wee more.
- Lubrication of joints as well as tissues including the eyes, mouth and nose. This is why after exercise or a night of drinking booze, joints are stiff and click more.
- Protection of organs including the brain which floats in cerebrospinal fluid to act as a cushion that allows for any sudden bumps or movements.
- Dilution & transit helping to dissolve nutrients and transport them around the body, whilst also helping to expel waste and support kidney function.
How much water to drink
It is not uncommon for people to be unclear on how much water they should drink. The information surrounding optimum hydration can be confusion, such as the recommendation of 8 glasses per day. How big are these glasses and is this in addition to food? In truth there is no strict rule on how much a person should drink as it does vary depending on the following factors:
- Sex: Men carry a higher percentage of body weight in water than women so should drink around 45% more water than women.
- Exercise: When taking part in exercise water is lost through sweat. The amount needed to replace this depends on exercise duration and intensity.
- Environment: As water is lost in sweat, urination and breathing – hot, cold and high altitudes will all have an effect on fluid loss.
- Health Condition: Lose suffering from vomiting, fever or diarrhea can lose water at a considerable rate. Also pregnant mothers or those breast feeding will have an additional re-hydration need.
All factors considered, studies have determined that an adequate intake of water for men is around 3 litres or 5 pints and for 2.2 litres or 3 3/4 pints for women. However 20% of this can come from food.
The purity issue
Water purity continues to be a huge issue. Despite governmental investment to ensure and promote the safety of tap water, numerous contamination scares from around the world, such as worries surrounding the gas extraction process of fracking, means that many avoid tap water as a source. However many of the alternatives to tap water have also raised concerns. For example some plastic bottles can transfer traces of toxins into the water, which research has shown can compromise human health. Concerns have also been raised surrounding side effects of filtration which can eliminate some unwanted chemical and biological substances from water, but allow others to build up as a side effect. Spring water bottled in glass is considered by many to be amongst the purest water sources. They are also amongst the most expensive costing anything up to and above $60,000 per 750 ml.
Whilst purity is always preferable, hydration from a safe water source is always better than no hydration.