Every day, we lose water through urination, sweating and breathing. Since many of the processes within the body rely greatly on water, it is important we replace our fluids regularly to compensate for this loss.
Do you know that the most important nutrient for our body is water?
• An adult human body is made up of about 60 to 70 percent water; infants and children are made up of about 75 percent water.
• Blood is about 90 percent water
• The brain and heart is about 73 percent water.
• Muscles are about 72 percent water
A human body can go weeks without food but only 3 to 4 days without water.
How much water should one drink every day?
One should drink around 8 to 10 glasses of water daily.
Factors that influence water needs:
Exercise: If you exercise or engage in any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to compensate for the fluid loss. During long bouts of intense exercise, it's best to use a sports drink that contains electrolytes, as this will help replace the minerals lost in sweat. Also, continue to replace fluids after you're finished exercising.
Environment: Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional intake of fluid. Heated indoor air also can cause your skin to lose moisture during winter time.
Illnesses or health conditions: When you have fever, vomiting or diarrhoea, your body loses additional fluids. In these cases, you should drink more water. In some cases, your doctor may recommend oral rehydration solutions. (ORS)
Pregnancy or breast-feeding: Women who are expecting or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are used especially when nursing. Doctors recommend that pregnant women drink 2.3 liters (about 10 cups) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume 3.1 liters (about 13 cups) of fluids a day.
Do other Liquids Count?
Our body's fluid needs are met through other means besides water. On an average, food provides about 20 percent of total water intake. Many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon and tomatoes, are 90 percent or more water by weight. In addition, milk and juices are composed mostly of water.
Even beer, wine and caffeinated beverages - such as coffee, tea or soda can provide fluid .Other liquids such as diet colas etc may be calorie-free but often contain caffeine, which acts as a mild diuretic. A diuretic helps the body release water, which actually increases your need for more water. So even though they do provide fluid but also lead to the loss of fluid from the body.
So while other liquids do provide hydration, but water remains the single best drink to remain hydrated as it is calorie-free, inexpensive and readily available.
Staying safely hydrated:
If you produce 1.5 liters or more of colourless or light yellow urine day, your water intake is adequate.
If you are having hard bowel movements or constipation, it indicates that your water intake is inadequate.
To ward off dehydration and make sure your body has the fluids it needs,
• Drink a glass of water with each meal and between each meal.
• Drink water before, during and after exercise.
• Carry water wherever you go.
• Most vegetables and fruits contain water. Have them to rehydrate yourself.