Some important facts to know about water- if you are thirsty it’s too late

June 21, 2015 BY: LISA

Some facts about water:

  • The human body can last weeks without food, but only days without water.
  • The body is made up of 50 to 75 per cent water.
  • Water forms the basis of blood, digestive juices, urine and perspiration, and is contained in lean muscle, fat and bones.

 

As the body can’t store water, we need fresh supplies every day to make up for losses from the lungs, skin, urine and faeces. The amount we need depends on our body size, metabolism, the weather, the food we eat and our activity levels. (1)

 

As well as helping to maintain the balance of essential minerals, your body needs adequate water to help with:

  • Temperature regulation, especially keeping you cool by allowing you to sweat when you get hot.
  • Digestion and processing of food, by keeping your gastrointestinal tract moist to aid in the passing of the food through the gut.
  • absorption of nutrients and helping you to pass waste.(7)

ronymichaud / Pixabay

Mild dehydration causes decreased performance

Although excessive dehydration is associated with serious health problems, even mild dehydration can cause issues, including headaches, irritability, poorer physical performance, and reduced cognitive (brain/thinking)  functioning.(2,3,4)

 

Mild dehydration is considered to occur when you lose 1.5% of normal water volume in your body. Our thirst sensation doesn’t really appear until we are 1 [percent] or 2 percent dehydrated. By then dehydration is already setting in and starting to impact how our mind and body perform,” says Lawrence E. Armstrong an international expert on hydration. (5)

 

Symptoms experienced with mild dehydration included:

  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating.

 

Kids are not drinking enough water

A recent study of 4000 US children, aged between 6-19years, found over half the children were not well hydrated. They concluded this was likely to be they were not drinking enough water and it was also noted that one quarter of the students did not drink plain water at all.

 

While it’s true we get water (fluid) from other drinks and food nothing beats a glass of water to keep you hydrated. If you are interested to see the effects of other drinks on your body check out the sugary drinks calculator – it’s an eye opener!

 

http://livelighter.com.au/SugaryDrinks/Calculator

 

Do you need a sports drink or will water do?

The sugar and salt in sports drinks are at the right concentrations to maximise the speed with which water moves from your gut into your bloodstream. But plain water is absorbed almost as quickly and is perfectly adequate for moderate exercise or if you’re exercising for less than about an hour.

 

The bottom line is that for most people sports drinks are an unnecessary expense and provide unnecessary salt and kilojoules. If you’re simply an active person who plays social tennis, swims or goes to the gym a couple of times a week, you don’t need sports drinks. However, for long periods (an hour or more) of strenuous exercise they may be beneficial.

 

Experts argue that sports drinks are unnecessary for children and adolescents, and their consumption is part of the growing childhood obesity problem. If kids are thirsty, they’ll drink water if water is provided. (6)

kropekk_pl / Pixabay

How do you know if you are dehydrated?

People can check their hydration status by monitoring the color of their urine. Urine should be a very pale yellow in individuals who are properly hydrated.

 

Urine that is dark yellow or tan in color indicates greater dehydration. Proper hydration is particularly important for high-risk groups, such as the elderly, people with diabetes, and children. (4)

 

How much water are you aiming for?

Our body produces about 250ml water and we get approximately one liter of water in with the food we eat each day. Men need about 2.6 litres of water per day and women need 2.1litres per day; aiming for 4-6 glasses of water each day should top you up to the required level. Remember if you are doing sport or if it is hotter weather you may need more than this. (7)

 

Drink up!

 

Lisa APD

 

Bibliography:

  1. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Water_a_vital_nutrient
  2. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/study-finds-inadequate-hydration-among-u-s-children/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Harvard%20Chan%20School%20Update%20June%202015%20–%20Friends%20(1)&utm_content=
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21736786
  4. http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v57/n2s/full/1601898a.html
  5. http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/02/20/dehydration-influences-mood-cognition/35037.html
  6. https://www.choice.com.au/food-and-drink/drinks/sports-drinks-energy-drinks-and-soft-drinks/articles/sports-drinks-vs-water
  7. ABC health and well being
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