Proper hydration - why is it important to drink enough fluids?

date_range 2022/07/10
Proper hydration - why is it important to drink enough fluids?

Adequate hydration is crucial for the body to function properly. Moreover, it is extremely important for your wellbeing, the condition of your skin, hair and nails. Despite this, there are still many people who do not pay attention to the amount of fluids they drink.

Why is it so important to drink the right amount of fluids?
Water has many important functions in the body. It is estimated that the human body is made up of approximately 60% water. So, it is, in a sense, the building material; it makes up the blood, the brain and the muscles. So, in order for the body to function properly, it must be properly hydrated. In addition to this, water is essential for proper digestion, keeps the joints hydrated as well as flexible, improves sleep quality or cognitive function. Water is also responsible for maintaining a constant body temperature - it cools you down when the ambient temperature is too high and insulates you from the cold when it is cold.

Dehydration
Inadequate fluid supply can quickly lead to dehydration and serious health consequences. Mental performance is reduced, absorption of water-soluble vitamins, which are responsible for immunity, among other things, is reduced. In addition, there is severe thirst, irritability, insomnia, loss of appetite, constipation, dizziness or weakness of physical strength. The amount of urine and the excretion of metabolic products also decrease. This condition can even lead to poisoning of the body. In the long term, kidney stones may develop as a result of insufficient diuresis (urine excretion).

How much water to drink?
Since the human body does not produce water in sufficient quantities to meet its needs, we count water as an essential nutrient. The need for water depends on a number of factors, including age, physical activity, physiological state, ambient temperature and humidity. However, EFSA experts recommend at least 2.5 litres of water for men and 2 litres a day for women. And on hot days - even 3 litres. But hydration is not only about water! Coffee, tea, juices or soups are also sources of fluids. It is also worth remembering that many foods contain a significant amount of water, i.e. vegetables (up to 95% water), fruit (up to 87%), milk and dairy drinks (87-89%).


Can water be overdone?
Excess water can be harmful. This risk can occur when large amounts of fluids are consumed at one time that exceed the maximum excretion of water by the kidneys. Excessive intake of fluids with low electrolyte content contributes to water-electrolyte disturbances. This leads to weakness, nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite and lower blood pressure. On the other hand, excessive intake of fluids with a high electrolyte content may lead to dehydration of the body, due to the outflow of water from the bloodstream into the digestive system.

How should you hydrate your body?
Choose mineral waters that are a source of many minerals. For example, highly mineralised waters are helpful in replenishing calcium or magnesium deficiencies. Spring waters are extracted from crystalline sources and therefore have fewer ingredients.
Avoid sugary drinks. Instead, choose water enriched with, for example, a slice of lemon or cucumber, a mint leaf or frozen berries.
Keep juices to a minimum. Choose only unprocessed, pressed and cloudy ones, which are additionally a source of fibre and nutrients.
Drink water throughout the day, in small portions. A single serving is approximately 100-150 ml. A large amount of water drunk at one time will result in increased excretion in the urine.
Drink a glass of water immediately after waking up, as the body is dehydrated after a night's sleep.
Have a bottle or bidon of water with you at all times. Especially on hot days. With water in sight, you won't forget to hydrate.

Sources:

1. Nicolaidis S. Physiology of thirst. In: Arnaud MJ, editor. Hydration Throughout Life. Montrouge: John Libbey Eurotext; 1998. p. 247. []

2. Jequier E, Constant F. Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010;64:115–123. [PubMed[]