How much water is really needed for healthy hydration?

19-Apr 2014, by Kevin McNally

In our 4th and final part of our mini series on water and it’s importance in leading a healthy lifestyle we take a look at daily intake requirements.

Water water everywhere

How much water is needed for healthy hydration?Your body is made up of around 60-75% water making it the most abundant and most important substance in your body and to maintain good health and proper bodily function, the amount of water in the body should remain relatively constant. Put simply, the amount of water lost daily must be replaced by an equivalent amount of daily water intake to maintain the proper balance.

How much water do we need every day?

It’s fairly obvious that water requirements will vary from one person to another and this specifically depends on several factors such as physical activity, ambient temperature, health status, age and gender. A sedentary adult with normal physiological conditions, in a temperate climate, loses on average 2.5 litres of water a day, mainly due to the following:

  • the kidneys, through urine excretion (1.5 l per day)
  • the lungs by breathing (0.35 l)
  • the skin by perspiring (0.45 l)
  • the intestines in the form of faeces (0.2 l)
  • To avoid dehydration we need to ingest as much water as we lose.

Importantly, this means that the average ‘sedentary’ person needs to consume around 2.5 litres per day to maintain a healthy body and for the active among us the requirement will clearly be higher. That’s significantly more than most people think is needed!

Water sources

Water is taken in from the following 3 major sources:

  • water in food: 0.7 l
  • metabolic water (which is produced in the body during biochemical reactions): 0.3 l
  • drinking: 1.5 additional litres.

Although water is take on board from other ‘drinking’ sources, such and tea and coffee, plain on simple water is simply the best drink to hydrate your body as it makes for healthy hydration without bringing any other unwanted elements into the body, such as sugar. An over-consumption of sugar sweetened beverages can lead to excessive calorie intake, substitution of sugary beverages by water is one of the healthy habits which help to fight against overweight / obesity risk.

How to apply this in our day to day lives

In terms of applying this to your daily routine, to keep things simple, you should ensure you’re hydrated at all times. The average ‘sedentary’ person needs to get around 2.5 litres per day, much more for those of us exercising regularly, however, because everyone is different this should be used just as a guide.

The best way to check whether you’re hydrated enough is to check the colour of your urine: if it’s clear then you’re well hydrated, if it has any yellow colouration then you’re dehydrated. In terms of how much you need to drink, the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) recommends drinking 8-12 glasses (approx. 2-3 litres) of water per day, however, it’s best to calibrate this with the urine test which is the best way to tell how hydrated you are.

Top tips for healthy hydration

  • Carry a bottle of water with you everywhere you go.
  • If your exercising make sure you hydrate before, during and after your sessions, especially if you are doing lots of cardio or endurance training (dehydration and lack of electrolytes is one of the main causes of cramp).
  • If you have a desk job, have a large (1.5 litre) bottle of water on your desk everyday.
  • Monitor your consumption by keeping tabs of the water level in your bottle: if you’re not drinking enough you’ll have loads left at the end of the day!
  • Be aware of BPA (Bisphenol A) in plastic water bottles as it is reportedly potentially damaging to health. Use glass bottles of you’re concerned on look for plastic bottle clearly marked as ‘BPA free’.
  • Drink water as soon as you wake as it can increase metabolism by up to 30%.
  • Drink water before meals as it’s an excellent way to prevent overeating.
  • Don’t drink calories: make the switch to water as you main source of hydration to keep your calorie intake in check.

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Sources: (original article)

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