Water is a key factor in human existence. It makes up an average of 65 to 70% of the mass of an adult. As we age, the amount of water in our body decreases. The degree of water representation in the body depends on the body structure. Specifically, different cells contain different amounts of water. Muscle cells, for example, consist of 70 to 75% water, while fat cells have only 10 to 15% water. That’s why it is important to drink enough fluid.
Water is the healthiest drink, and bodily functions such as respiration, digestion, assimilation, metabolism and temperature regulation can only take place in the presence of water. It is required to prevent overheating as it allows sweating and evaporation, which is our natural cooling mechanism. Assists absorption, transfers nutrients (proteins, sugars, vitamins and minerals) to the organs in need. It also flushes out poisons and wastes because without enough water, the body fails to remove the harmful substances stored in the organs. Through the process of breathing and sweating, we lose water daily and need to be replenished on a regular basis.
There is increasing evidence that adequate water intake plays a role in the prevention of chronic diseases. New research has shown that there is a possible correlation between low fluid intake and cancer of the bladder, colon, breast, prostate, kidney and testes.
How Much Water Should I Drink?
You should also drink when you do not feel thirsty, regularly throughout the day. It would be a good idea to carry a bottle of water with you and refresh yourself whenever you remember because even a minor lack of fluid in the body can cause headaches, nausea and dizziness.
The amount of fluid sufficient for an organism is individual and depends on a number of factors (physical activity, age, diet, pregnancy, breastfeeding…). In fact, there is no official recommendation on how much water to consume during the day, but rather a recommendation on total fluid intake from all sources.
It is difficult to make a strict recommendation of daily fluid intake by age, but there are nevertheless some findings that emerge among healthy individuals who exercise in moderate physical activity and live in temperate climates. Experts recommend 6 to 8 glasses of water a day for adults throughout the year, but recent studies have shown that this amount of water should be higher, 10 glasses for women and 12 glasses for men. For infants, a smaller amount of water is needed, from 525 ml for a 3.5 kg newborn to 1 200 ml for an 8 kg infant.
It is important to note that the optimum daily intake of water applies to all the fluid intake, which includes food and all beverages (for example, soup, stews, fruits, vegetables, tea, milk and milk beverages, juices). Coffee and alcohol should be avoided as they promote the excretion of fluid from the body.
What happens in the body if you don’t drink enough water
Water is found in each cell as the main constituent of extracellular fluids, where it is used for lubrication and transport. It is the main ingredient in saliva and digestive juices, thus facilitating digestion. It also regulates blood density. When dehydrated, the blood is denser, which can result in high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease. In addition, lack of water makes the kidneys susceptible to inflammation and infections. It can also cause decreased skin elasticity, decreased joint mobility, worse sports performance, headache.
Lack of water in the body can lead to some diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. However, some foreign studies show that the loss of just two percent of fluid through sweat can significantly affect the physical strength of the body. Lack of water causes increased fatigue, which will make it much harder for us to do some daily activities. Studies show that even mild dehydration (1 to 3 percent of body weight) can adversely affect many aspects of brain function. Thus, international studies among young women have proven that losing 1.36 percent of fluid after exercise leads to a loss of concentration, worse mood and a higher incidence of headaches.
A similar study conducted among adult men found that already losing 1.59 percent of fluid can be detrimental to working memory and increase feelings of anxiety and fatigue. For example, at average training, athletes can lose 6 to 10 percent of their weight through sweat. This is enough to say how important it is to drink during training or some daily activities.
A glass before a meal
The liquid should be consumed most between meals. In other words, it is better to drink a glass of water before breakfast, lunch or dinner than with or immediately after the meal. When you drink before a meal, you will purify your digestive system and help create the digestive juices you need to break down your meal, while with a lot of liquid after a meal you will actually dilute it and make it difficult to digest.
Juices are not a good substitute
Sufficient fluid intake should be taken care of in the elderly and children, and make sure that the juices cannot replace water. The basic fluid we consume should be plain water. A smaller portion of the fluid we ingest can be from beverages and natural juices and foods with high water content, such as soups, milk, smoothies. Liquids high in sugar and salt, such as industrial juices, sugar drinks, industrial/ready-made soups, etc., are by no means a good substitute for water.
Cold water helps in losing weight
Water can increase the feeling of satiety and stimulate metabolism, thus helping to reduce body weight. Two studies found that in people who increased their water consumption by half a liter, their metabolism accelerated by 24-30 percent. If you want to lose weight, it is recommended to drink colder water because the body will need more energy to heat, therefore, it consumes more calories.
It helps to prevent buildup in the kidneys
Several studies have highlighted the possibility that water intake can help prevent relapse in people who have had kidney stones. Higher fluid intake increases the volume of urine that passes through the kidneys, which dilutes the mineral concentration so that the urine is less likely to crystallize and build up. However, more research is needed to argue that water can prevent the appearance of stones. In any case, water regulates the proper functioning of the kidneys, regardless of whether you have problems with stones.
With enough water, the headaches are mild and shorter
Numerous studies have shown that in some people regular intake of water can help reduce headaches and migraines. A study of about 20 migraine sufferers showed that the incidence of headaches with more fluid did not only decrease, but they were less severe and lasted longer.
After each drink, drink a glass of water
Furthermore, water is the best cure for hangovers. Alcohol is a diuretic, so when we drink it we lose more fluid than usual, which can cause thirst, fatigue, headache and dry mouth. A good way to avoid a hangover is to drink a glass of water after each drink.
How to identify water shortages?
It’s hard to assume if you drink enough fluid just because you’re not thirsty. As we age, our thirst sensation disappears and we do not realize when our body needs more fluid. Furthermore, many older people suffer from arthritis, incontinence, or problems that make movement painful. Consequently, elderly intentionally take in less fluid to reduce the frequency of going to the toilet. The signs and symptoms we should keep in mind are: headache, dry skin, dry mouth and tongue with thick saliva, fatigue or weakness, cramps in the hands and feet, decreased sweating, fever, rapid heartbeat, lack of concentration, nausea, vomiting.
The initial reactions of the body to dehydration are thirst, decreased urination and a dark urine color. Daily intake of fluid should be greater than the amount excreted in the urine. The color of the urine indicates its concentration. Check the color of your urine. It should be light yellow in color, almost pure and of a weaker odor. Dark yellow color of the urine indicates dehydration and means you need more fluid.
Check out how hydrated you are with this simple urine color test:
Also read: Why it is important to eat breakfast