Water is a nutrient that can be easily overlooked, but is arguably one of the most important nutrients our body needs to survive. Without water, our body would only be able to survive a few days, this is because our body is around 60% water.
• All the chemical reactions that occur in our body take place in the medium of H2O. The water in every individual cell and the whole body must be kept constant so that all our body functions and our metabolism, remains efficient.
• Water helps keep our body temperature regulated. It distributes heat around the body from the place where it is produced. Water can evaporate from the skin to try to cool down the body, this is known as sweating.
• Water is the transportation system of the body. It moves everything around the body to the places it is needed and takes waste products to excretory organs.
How much water should you drink?
Water is continuously lost throughout the day from sweating, excretion of waste and breathing. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, your body’s output will be around 2.5 litres a day. This loss is through, urine, faeces, skin evaporation and respiration.
It is very difficult to accurately estimate how much fluid we should consume daily. Some of our water will come from the food we eat throughout the day. For example, vegetables and fruit contain considerable amounts of water. Through a healthy and well-balanced diet, it has been estimated that we will consume around 1-1.5 litres of water per day. This still leaves our body needing more water, therefore you should drink around two litres of water throughout the day.
If you are exercising you will need to increase the amount of water you drink. An hour of exercise could lead to a further water loss of around 1-2 litres depending on the type of exercise. Personally, I aim to drink at least one litre of water during a 60-minute workout.
The consequences of dehydration
Dehydration can be very serious. Loss of water is measured as a percentage of our body weight. One litre of water weighs approximately 1Kg.
• A loss of 3% body fluids will reduce blood flow and blood volume, inefficient kidney function and will cause dry mouth and headache.
• A 4% loss will result in the capacity for hard muscle work to reduce by around 20-30%
• At 5% fluid loss heat exhaustion will occur, leading to medical attention.
• A 7% loss will cause an individual to start hallucinating.
• A 10%+ loss with lead to heat stroke, cause you to collapse and even death.
How can you assess your hydration levels?
Thirst is not a way of analysing your water needs, thirst is a response to dehydration. By the time you feel thirsty it is already too late, you are already dehydrated. This can be sufficient enough to affect performance.
An effective way to know if you are hydrated enough is through the colour of your urine.
Clear – Hydrated
Very pale yellow – Hydrated
Pale yellow – Hydrated
Yellow – Mild Dehydration
Dark yellow – Dehydration
Water is clearly important in our day to day life, simple changes such as drinking more water throughout the day will keep you feeling refreshed, hydrated and energised.
In my opinion water is under consumed and overlooked. For something so readily available and essential to us it makes me wonder why it’s under consumed. I can think of many reasons why but what’s important is that you understand the importance of water and why you should drink more.
Author – Anthony Cheetham