Staying hydrated is one of the most important aspects of living a healthy life, but how many of us understand why? The human body is comprised of up to 60% water! And water is essential to aid in maintaining bodily functions such as transporting oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, lubricating joints, controlling body temperature, and cleansing toxins and waste from muscles and organs. Approximately 1800-2000ml/day is considered the appropriate intake for the average adult, or more known ‘8 cups a day’. How did this figure come about? The typical person loses approximately 2.5 litres of water daily (sweat, breathing, urination), and consumes 0.5 litres of water through food intake; therefore, approximately 2 litres of water is required to maintain normal bodily functions. If you do not maintain your water intake, you may become dehydrated.
Common symptoms of dehydration include: dry mouth, darkened urine, sunken eyes, low blood pressure, fatigue or sleepiness and obviously, thirst. However, thirst is a slow indicator for you when dehydrated, which is why it is important to drink throughout the day, not just when you become thirsty.
The main benefits of keeping hydrated include:
- Increased concentration (as the brain consists of 75% water, it needs to remain hydrated to maintain efficiency).
- Improved digestion and weight loss (improves nutrient distribution and satisfies feelings of hunger).
- Improved recovery and performance (regulates body temperature, and allows efficient transport of nutrients).
Key tips to ensure you stay hydrated throughout the day at work, home and during sport, include:
- Start the day with a cup of water (or two) when waking up. During the night the body sweats and isn’t being replenished.
- Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day. Starting a habit of constant sips throughout the day build up fast to reaching the 2L/day goal.
- Drinking water before and after exercise is just as important as during.
- Cut down on caffeine (diuretic) and avoid sugary drinks
- Make sure you’ve had plenty of water before consuming alcohol.
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables; they have a high content of water.
Don’t treat it like a chore, rather an investment into your health!
Dane Stephen – B.Sc. Exercise and Health, Grad Dip – Exercise Physiology
Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AES, AEP)(ESSAM)