Hydration: Keeping up with our summer heat

Hydration: Keeping up with our summer heat | Mr Vitamins
It’s not rocket science that good hydration is essential for health and wellbeing.  Every cell in your body requires water.  Often overlooked when we consider good nutrition, water is essential for survival. Your body can’t store water so we need to provide fresh supplies everyday. If water intake is inadequate dehydration occurs. Dehydration can increase the risk of kidney stones and urinary tract infections, lower physical and mental performance and reduce salivary gland function.

Some interesting facts about your body and water:

  • Water makes up approximately 60% of body weight in males.
  • It makes up approximately 50-55% of body weight in females (sorry girls, we have a higher proportion of body fat).
  • Water levels in your body decline as you age.
  • Elderly people lose approximately two litres of water a day.
  • Muscles and brain are about 75% water.
  • Mild dehydration causing 1-2% loss in body weight can impair concentration and a loss of more than 2% can impair short term memory and affect the brain’s processing abilities.
  • Liver consists of about 71% water.
  • Blood and kidneys are about 81%.
  • Healthy hydrated kidneys filter approximately 180 litres of water per day.
  • Even our bones are 22%  water.
  • And adipose tissue is about 20%
  • We cannot survive without drinking for more than a few days.
  • Travelling in a plane can cause a loss of approximately 1.5 litres during a three hour flight.
Those facts alone are incentive to keep your water intake up.

What are the benefits of drinking water?

  • Temperature regulation – through sweating.  When your body becomes too hot, it loses water through sweat, and then the evaporation of the sweat from the skin, helps to remove heat from your body.  In otherwords, you sweat to prevent your body from overheating.
  • Cellular wellbeing – maintaining the health and integrity of every cell in your body. Hydration is required for the transportation of carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, oxygen and other important nutrients to the cells.  The cells use these nutrients to produce energy required for healthy body function.  Hydration is also required to facilitate the disposal of waste products of metabolism to help support healthy cellular chemical function.
  • Blood –  water is needed to maintain bloodstream liquid so it can flow through blood vessels.
  • Kidneys and elimination – adequate water levels are required to keep the kidneys working well.  Waste products and excess nutrients such as sodium, potassium and urea  are removed mainly via urine.
  • Avoiding cystitis and bladder health – good hydration levels can help to reduce the risk of cystitis by keeping the bladder clear of bacteria.
  • Muscle and joints – require water as a lubricant, helping to cushion the joints and keeping  the muscles working properly.
  • Digestive health – hydration helps in the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients and helps to prevent constipation.
  • Brain function – when correctly hydrated the brain is better supplied with fresh, oxygenated blood needed to stay alert.
  • Heart health – water balance is required to regulate blood pressure and ensure that the circulatory system delivers oxygen to the brain and all other tissues in your body.
  • Mucous membranes – such as in the mouth and lungs are moistened by water.
  • Skin – when dehydrated the skin dries out and loses its smoothness.
  • Shock absorber – water acts as a shock absorber inside the eyes and the spinal cord as well as the amniotic sac that surrounds the fetus in pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of dehydration?

  • Thirst
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy – tiredness and weakness
  • Mood changes
  • Dark coloured/smelly urine
  • Slow responses
  • Dry, cracked or heated lips
  • Dry nasal passages
  • Confusion and hallucinations
  • Dehydration in a young child can cause symptoms of cold skin, lethargy, dry mouth, depressed fontanelle and a blue tinge to the skin.

How much water is enough?

The Department of Health and Ageing recommends the following approximate adequate daily intakes of fluids in litres per day.  Water from food is additional and not included in these amounts. Water needs may vary between individuals. Fluid intake may need to be increased with high-protein or high-fibre diets, as a result of water loss with nausea or diarrhoea, when physically active or when the weather is very hot.
Age and Gender Amount of water in litres
Infants 0-6 months 0.7
Infants 7-12 months 0.9
Children 1-3 years 1.0
Children 4-8 years 1.2
Boys 9-13 years 1.6
Girls 9-13 years 1.4
Boys 14-18 years 1.9
Girls 14-18 years 1.6
Men 2.6
Women 2.1
Pregnancy 19-50 years 2.3
Lactation 19-50 years 2.6

Can I drink too much water?

Drinking too much water can cause damage to your body and water intoxification (hyponatraemia). Drinking too much too fast will overload the kidneys and they will not excrete enough fluid.  Hyponatraemia is not common and mostly occurs in endurance athletes and infants on over-diluted infant formula.

How much water do I need for ideal sports performance?

Water intake for athletes varies during training and competition and is affected by factors such as exercise intensity and/ or climate conditions on the day.  Sport coaches are often trained to give recommendations.  Our naturopath and nutritionist, Janne Ramsay, can help you work out your individual hydration levels for your given event.

What can I do to remember to drink enough water?

Our article 15 Fun Ways to Increase your Water Intake this Summer provides some useful tips on how to increase your water intake.

Cheers and Bottoms Up from Naturopath Janne Ramsay!

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