Relative to your age, your body consists of 50-80% water. Your body would not function without it as every chemical process in the body takes place in water. Even a 1% reduction in total body water can affect physical functioning, cognition and mood.
As we celebrate World Water Day, in Australia we are grateful to have clean drinking water at our fingertips. According to the United Nations, 2.1 billion people don’t have access to clean water in their homes.
Drinking plenty of clean water is the starting point to optimal health. We need water for digestion, to absorb nutrients, to help us move, get rid of waste products and to regulate our body temperature.
Because the amount of water required varies depending on individual factors including body size, diet, climate and levels of physical activity the Australian Dietary Guidelines do not provide target amounts for consumption, but make the general recommendation that Australians “drink plenty of water”.
However, the consensus is to consume at least 2 litres per day, which is based on the estimate that the average adult loses roughly 8- 10 cups of water each day through breathing, sweating, urinating and eliminating waste.
It’s estimated that up to 55-75% of Australians have chronic dehydration and only consume about 1 litre a day.
– lubricates the joints
– forms saliva and mucus
– delivers oxygen throughout body
– it boosts skin health and beauty
– it cushions and protects brain, spine and organs
– regulates body temperature
– aids digestion
– flushes waste
– maintains blood pressure
– keeps airways healthy and unrestricted
– dissolves nutrients to enable transportation throughout body
– boosts performance in sport
– weight loss
“If there is magic on this planet it is contained in water”
– Loren Eiseley
Being thirsty is usually a sign your body is already dehydrated and will be triggered by a 2% drop in body water. The amount of water you need to drink each day may change and requirements will increase if the weather is hot, if you are exercising, if you have kidney disease, you are pregnant or breast feeding, you are on a high-protein diet, or if you are unwell.
How often you pass urine is also a good way to gauge if you are getting low in water. Also, if the urine is pale yellow or clear you are hydrated, but if it becomes dark yellow it is a sure sign you should drink more water.
Signs of dehydration include:
– dark coloured urine
– dry mouth or nasal passages
– fatigue and muscle weakness
– dry or cracked lips
– mood changes, confusion, hallucinations
– low or high blood pressure
– weight gain
– premature ageing
– joint pain and stiffness
– skin disorders
The elderly are very susceptible to becoming dehydrated as they often do not feel thirsty. Declining kidney function, limited mobility, medications and chronic illness may contribute to dehydration.
Dehydration in a child can occur very rapidly and can be life threatening, requiring urgent medical attention. In babies there will be a sunken fontanelle on the skull. Generally, children will present with lethargy, dry mouth, blue tinge to skin, and cold skin.
Many a clinician will tell you how hard it is to get a lot of people to drink enough water. Here are some ways to improve taste while adding some nutritional zing.
– slices of cucumber – cools and hydrates
– fresh mint – freshens breath and helps nausea
– lemon or lime – boosts immunity, cleanses digestive tract, and improves taste
– aloe vera juice – intestinal soother
– ginger – warming, anti-inflammatory, and improves digestion
– herbal tea – improves taste and can be tailored to suit health needs
– berries – tastes great, antioxidant, and increases vitamin C
– cinnamon – reduces cholesterol and regulates blood sugar
– honey – antiviral and antibacterial
Bottoms up to great health!
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