Summer is here and our fluid requirements are increasing. There is a lot of confusion about hydration and how much fluid we should be drinking. This article summarises the hydration facts as well as the facts around water, how much we should be drinking and why it’s important for our health.
Fluid requirements differ from individual to individual. There are many factors that affect an individual’s need for water, such as age, gender, body mass, diet, physical activity levels and climate. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends an intake of 2.5 litres of water for men and 2.0 litres of water for women per day, via food and liquid consumption
Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid (sweat, breath, urine) than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. If you don’t replace lost fluids, you will get dehydrated. Thirst is a signal that your body is headed toward dehydration. Therefore, it is important to drink before you feel thirsty and to drink throughout the day, not too much at one time. Dehydration can slow you down mentally and physically, it can also make you more hungry.
Anyone may become dehydrated, but the condition is especially dangerous for young children and older adults. Dehydration also can occur in any age group if you don’t drink enough water during hot weather – especially if you are exercising vigorously. Exercise produces an elevation in body temperature, which depends on the intensity and duration of exercise, environmental conditions, clothing, and metabolic rate. In order to get rid of the excess heat, your body secretes sweat, which is primarily composed of water and electrolytes such as sodium. The evaporation of sweat is the primary mechanism of heat loss during exercise.
Excessive fluid intake without sufficient electrolytes will lead hyponatremia (low sodium in the blood). The ideal temperature to exercise is 18-21 degrees Celsius unless you are training for an outdoor event/sport. If you train for long hours you may need electrolytes along with water for optimal rehydration. The fluid should be cooler than room temperature.
Over 1% loss in body weight indicates dehydration and over 5% indicates serious dehydration and can be fatal. These fluid losses need to be replaced. Remember that your blood is 90% water and it acts as a transport medium for the delivery of nutrients. Water also takes part in all the metabolic reactions. Thus, from a metabolism perspective, whether your goal is fat loss or muscle gain, dehydration will lead to a sluggish metabolism and thus impede your goals.
Here’s the checklist you need this summer to quench your hydration needs: