The importance of water for a healthy lifestyle
When transitioning to a healthier lifestyle, one of the easiest steps you can take is to swap out your beverage consumption for water. Water is an essential nutrient for our bodies, and it makes up about 60% of our body weight. Two-thirds of this water is found within our cells, where it sustains the chemical reactions necessary for life.
Even mild dehydration, caused by a loss of just 1-2% of body weight, can impair the cognitive and physical performance, so it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day. Dehydration caused by exercise or heat can also negatively affect your physical and mental performance. Plus, if you suffer from constipation, drinking more water may help.
One can often confuse thirst with hunger. Therefore, it’s crucial to consume an adequate amount of water throughout the day. Additionally, drinking water half an hour before meals can reduce appetite, as it makes one feel fuller. (1)
Water’s role in the body
Water is a crucial component of blood and is responsible for transporting nutrients and chemicals to our cells and tissues and removing waste products. It also helps regulate our body temperature by absorbing and transporting heat. If you’re properly hydrated, you’ll rarely feel thirsty, and your urine will be clear or light yellow.
- Many nutrients dissolve in water so they can easily be absorbed in the digestive tract. Similarly, many metabolic processes need to occur in water.
- Water is a component of blood and thus is essential for transporting chemicals and nutrients to cells and tissues and removing waste products.
- A watery fluid constantly surrounds each cell.
- Water absorbs and transports heat. For example, the heat produced by muscle cells during exercise is carried by water in the blood to the surface, helping to maintain the proper temperature balance. The skin cells also release water as sweat, which helps maintain body temperature.
Your fluid intake and hydration level
Your fluid intake is probably adequate if you rarely feel thirsty, and your urine is clear or light yellow. Dark yellow or foul-smelling urine can indicate dehydration. Several factors are thought to increase the likelihood of chronic mild dehydration, including a faulty thirst “alarm” in the brain, dissatisfaction with the taste of water, regular exercise that increases the amount of water lost through sweat, living in a hot, dry climate, and consumption of caffeine and alcohol, both of which have a diuretic effect.
Recommendations for staying hydrated
To ensure adequate hydration, it is recommended that adults drink a minimum of 1 1/2 to 2 litres of non-carbonated bottled or filtered water per day, and more when exercising or in hot weather. Other drinks, such as coffee and tea, can also contribute to overall fluid intake, but sugary drinks and milk should be consumed in moderation due to their high sugar content.
It is important to increase water intake during exercise, in hot weather, and in dry climates where sweating is increased. For very long and intense exercises, it may be necessary to replenish electrolytes and water, with coconut water being an excellent source of electrolytes. Individuals with health conditions that cause vomiting or diarrhoea should also increase their water consumption to avoid dehydration.
In summary, staying properly hydrated with clean, filtered, or natural mineral water is essential for maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle. Proper hydration can improve energy levels, skin health, and mental clarity and even help flush toxins out of your system. So, drink up and stay healthy!