70% of our body is made of water. Water is the lifeline for life. A person could survive 2 weeks without food but only 2 days without water.
We have all heard these trivia facts about water, but I thought I would delve a little deeper and talk about why water is so important for us and what exactly water does to our body. Nearly all of the major systems in our body depend on water. Here are just a few things that it does:
- maintains the health and integrity of every cell in the body,
- keeps the bloodstream liquid enough to flow through blood vessels,
- helps to eliminate the waste products,
- regulates body temperature through sweating,
- moistens the linings of the of the lungs and mouth,
- lubricates and cushions the joints,
- reduces the risk of cystitis by keeping the bladder clear of bacteria,
- aids digestion and prevents constipation,
- moisturises the skin to maintain its texture and appearance,
- carries nutrients and oxygen to cells,
- serves as a shock absorber inside the eyes, spinal cord and in the amniotic sac surrounding the fetus in pregnancy.
Because we lose water every day in our sweat, urine, lungs and bowel movements, we need to keep up regular water intake. If we don’t, we are at risk of dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Lethargy or tiredness and weakness
- Mood changes and slow responses
- Dry nasal passages (which can sometimes cause a bleeding nose)
- Dry or cracked lips
- Dark-coloured urine
- Confusion and hallucinations
So, how much water is enough?
|Age||Recommended Water Intake|
|Children 1 – 3 years||1 litre (4 cups) per day|
|Children 4 – 8 years||1.2 litres (5 cups) per day|
|Girls 9 – 13 years||1.4 litres (5-6 cups) per day|
|Boys 9 – 13 years||1.6 litres (6 cups) per day|
|Girls 14 – 18 years||1.6 litres (6 cups) per day|
|Boys 14 – 18 years||1.9 litres (7-8 cups) per day|
|Women 19 years and over||2.1 litres (just over 8 cups) per day|
|Men 19 years and over||2.6 litres (10 cups) per day|
These figures are based on the average person’s weight. If you weigh more, you should drink more and if you weigh less, your water requirements will be less. A good rule of thumb is to drink 33ml per kilo of body weight. For example, if you weigh 55kg, you should drink 1.8 litres of water per day (0.033 x 55 = 1.815); if you weigh 90kg, you should drink 3 litres of water per day (0.033 x 90 = 2.97).
Of course, if it’s a hot day or you are doing physical activity, your water intake should increase accordingly.
Do you drink that much? Do your family members drink enough? Here are some tips to help you to drink more water:
- Add some fruit to your water – try lemon or lime, orange, cucumber, mint, berries.
- Invest in a funky water bottle (there are so many available these days) and carry it with you. Keep it on your desk or in your bag.
- Add ice cubes made from fresh fruit to your water.
- Download a “water reminder” app on your phone. These will give you reminders throughout the day to have a drink of water and most will allow you to track your water intake.
If you need to increase your water intake, I usually suggest to people, that you do it slowly. Don’t go from 1 or 2 glasses a day to drinking 2.1 litres. Chances are you’ll feel water-logged and will need to go to the toilet often. You might find that the increased intake only lasts a few days because you’re just not used to it. Instead, increase slowly – start by increasing by just 1 or 2 glasses per day for a week, then increase by another 1 or 2 glasses for another week, and so on until your drinking the recommended amount.
If you’re concerned about your water intake, please speak to your healthcare practitioner.