Water is defined as a fundamental nutrient as it is required in greater amounts that exceed the body’s ability to produce it. Water accounts for around 50-80% of body weight and over 90% of our blood plasma is water. We all know that drinking water is vital to human life, but you may not fully understand why that is. For the body to function properly, all the cells and organs within the body require water. It serves as a lubricant for the joints, it regulates body temperature (thermoregulation), it assists the passage of food through to the intestines (digestion), dissolves and transports nutrients throughout the body and eliminates waste products.
But how much water is really needed to ensure that we are keeping our bodies functioning at its optimum? There are lots of variables for this and it is dependable on factors such as how active a person is and how much they sweat. During everyday functioning water is lost by the body and thus needs to be replaced. There is the general consensus that 2L a day is the amount of water that is needed. Whereas according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) an adequate daily intake for Men is 3L and Women is 2.2L. According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines total water intake ranges from 3.4L for Men 19yrs and over and 2.8L for Women 19yrs and over. However, you need to take into consideration your bodyweight and activity level to determine exactly what your daily water requirements are. A handy link to calculate this for you is – https://goodcalculators.com/water-intake-calculator/
Did you know that solid food accounts for 20% of total daily water intake? However, this means the remaining 80% needs to come from free water and or other fluids. Around 250 ml of water is required by the body for metabolism. It is vital for the body to retain a minimal amount to maintain a tolerable solute load for the kidneys. Interesting to note the normal turnover of water is approximately 4% of total body weight in adults. In a 60kg adult this is equivalent to 2400 mL/day, a 70kg adult is 2800 mL/day and an 80kg adult is 3200 mL/day.
How does minimal water intake affect the body? Water helps dissolve minerals and nutrients, so they are more accessible to the body, as well as helping transport waste products out of the body. Dehydration of as little as a 2% loss of body weight results in diminished physiological responses along with performance. Effects of dehydration on organs include but not limited to:
- Diminished kidney function – waste products and excess fluid build in the body
- Blood can become thicker and increase blood pressure
- Oral health can diminish – fluid intake can affect saliva production
- Increased risk of kidney stones, urinary tract cancers, colon cancer and mitral valve prolapse
- Airways are restricted by the body in an effort to minimize water loss, this potentially makes asthma and allergies worse
- Skin can become more vulnerable to skin disorders
- The bowel needs water to function properly
- Hormonal changes and disruptions
- Joints can become less effective at shock absorption – cartilage contains around 80% water
- Dehydration can affect brain structure and function
- Diminish physical and metal performance
Some signs and symptoms to look out for that could potentially mean the body is dehydrated:
- Dry nasal passages
- Mood changes
- Slow response
- Dry or cracked lips
- Dark coloured urine
- Muscle weakness
You’ve been told that excess fluid causes the body to retain it. Truth is this fact is WRONG! The body will only retain fluid if there is too little water in the cells. If the body is receiving adequate amount of water on a daily basis there will be no need for the body to conserve water and this will reduce fluid retention. Excess sodium is the result of fluid retention, drinking plenty of water helps the body eliminate the excess sodium.
Handy tips to ensure you drink more water
- Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning – try adding half a squeezed lemon will assist in digestion and also full of vitamin C to support the immune system
- Drink a glass of water 30 minutes before every meal – can assist with over indulging
- Carry a water bottle BPA free at all times and keep one at your desk at work
- If you must download a water tracker app – this can send you reminders
- It helps promote fat loss – raises your metabolism with zero calories
- Add flavour to your water – with some extra health benefits
Ok I get it, drinking plain water is boring, you dislike the taste and it’s an absolute chore for you to down it! So, you decide that drinking packaged flavoured water is better. Well yes, you are getting your water take in. However, you are drinking sugar! Which isn’t healthy for you but that’s a whole other blog to report on. Also, consuming fluids such as caffeinated drinks, soft drinks, coffee and tea are dehydrating so these are not included in your daily FRESH water intake. So, what are some flavoured waters you can have that also contain other health benefits. Note you can mix and match flavours to your desired liking, be creative.
- Basil – excellent source of K, manganese, copper, vitamin A &C, calcium, iron, folate & magnesium
- Mint – contains, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin C & A
- Rosemary – good source of Vitamin C, B6, folate, calcium, iron & manganese
- Coriander – contains thiamine, zinc, Vitamin A, C, E, K, B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese
- Parsley – rich in chlorophyll, carotenes, vitamin C, folic acid & iron
- Fennel – excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, folic acid & phosphorus
- Celery – excellent source of vitamin C, B1, B6, B2, potassium, folic acid & calcium
- Cinnamon – manganese, calcium, iron & vitamin K
- Ginger – contains B6, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, potassium & copper
- Vanilla pod – contains antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron, calcium & zinc
- Blueberries – excellent source of antioxidants, vitamin C, riboflavin manganese & vitamin E
- Raspberries – excellent source of fibre, manganese, vitamin C, flavonoids, ellagic acid & B vitamins
- Strawberries – powerful flavonoid, vitamin C, K B1, manganese, folic acid & iodine
- Grapefruit – good source of flavonoids, potassium, vitamin c & folic acid
- Grapes – good source of manganese, B6, thiamine, riboflavin, potassium & vitamin C
- Lime – excellent source of vitamin C, B6, potassium, folic acid, flavonoids, and phytochemical limonene
- Lemon – excellent source of vitamin C, B6, potassium, folic acid, flavonoids, and phytochemical limonene
- Mango – excellent source of carotenes, vitamin C, A, E, B vitamins and copper
- Orange – rich in vitamin C & flavonoids
- Pineapple – rich in bromelain (reduce inflammation) contains manganese
- Cherries – rich source of flavonoids, Vitamin A, C, cooper, manganese & contain melatonin
- Cranberries – rich in antioxidants, manganese and cooper
- Pomegranate – rich in antioxidants, Vitamins K, C, folate, potassium and contain iron
- Cucumber – vitamin C, A & folic acid
- Apricot – good source of carotenes, potassium & iron
- Watermelon – good source of pure water, vitamin C, beta-carotene & lycopene
- Honey drew – good source of Vitamin C, B vitamins & copper
- Nectarines – good source of carotenes & flavonoids
- Peaches – good source of carotenes & flavonoids
- Kiwi fruit – good source of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin E & A
- Apple – high in pectin, good source of vitamin C
- Pear – rich in water soluble fibre, including pectin, vitamin C, B2, E, copper & potassium
- Plum – great source of vitamin C, B1, B2 & B6
There are no excuses not to enjoy drinking your water in a healthy fashion. By adding some fresh flavours, you are fuelling the body with essential nutrients.
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Murray, M., Pizzorno, J. and Pizzorno, L. (2008). The encyclopaedia of healing foods. London: Atria Books.
Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. (2019). What does blood do?. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279392/ [Accessed 4 Feb. 2019].
Nrv.gov.au. (2019). Water | Nutrient Reference Values. [online] Available at: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/water [Accessed 4 Feb. 2019].
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