Water – Vital for Life & Maintaining Good Health
Ellen Roche Dietitian for the RTE Today Show
14th Jan 2014
Why is keeping hydrated so important?
- Water is essential for life and optimal health, as ¾ of the human body is made up of water.
- Maintaining optimal hydration levels is imperative to keep our bodies functioning well, in addition to looking and feeling good…
- It is counted as one of the basic six nutrients and it’s often overlooked as a component of a healthy balanced diet.
Adequate hydration allows your body to;
• Circulating blood, nutrients and oxygen around the body
• Maintain energy levels & concentration at work, school, sport
• Removal of waste products from the body (bowel and bladder)
• Keeps digestive system moving regularly, thus preventing constipation
What exactly is Dehydration?
Our bodies lose water through sweating, breathing and urination so it is vital that such fluid loses are replaced.
Dehydration commonly occurs due to inadequate fluid intake or excess caffeine.
Symptoms of Dehydration
• Loss of concentration, exercise performance,
• Headaches & triggers migranes, dizziness
• Tiredness & fatigue
• Risk of injury when exercising: muscle tear
• Dry skin, brittle and dull hair
• Not passing much urine in the day
• Dry mouth, frequent thirst
• Frequent kindey infections
Dark colour urine, often with strong odour
Refer to pee charts A4 size page & refractometre – demo
Dark colour of urine indicates insufficient water being consumed. Healthy urine is the colour of pale straw! Note Vitamins B& C supplements can effect colour also.
A small piece of equipment held by some Dieititians & health professionals, which can tell if a person is well hydrated, mildly dehydrated or severely dehydrated. Hydration testing is available from Nutri Vive Nutrition Clinic.
So how much fluid do we need?
The Department of Health, healthy eating guidelines recommends adults to have between 8 and 10 cups of fluid (1.5-2L) everyday.
Children are recommended to consume at least 6 cups of fluid per day.
We obtain water from all of the fluids we consume; including tea, coffee, fruit juice, fruit drinks, soft drinks in addition to drinking water.
More water and less sugary / caffeinated drinks are best for optimal health.
Both tea and coffee contain caffeine which has a mild diuretic effect (increasing frequency of urination). However moderate caffeine consumption (up to 2-3 cups of instant coffee or 4-5 cups of tea) does not appear to cause dehydration for most people as the body is accustomed to it.
If you are very fond of your tea or coffee and consume it in larger quantities than mentioned above, then consider swapping over to the “decaff” versions to help keep hydrated.
The amount of water we need to achieve optimal hydration levels will vary from person to person and depend on numerous factors including climate, clothing and physical of activity. If exercise more than 30 mins daily, will need more fluids I e. an additional 200-300ml every 15-20mins
Caution regarding volumes recommended
individuals with certain health conditions e.g. kidney problems may be advised by a doctor or other health professional to follow specific fluid restrictions and in these instances, fluid limits must be adhered to in order to stay well. Medications i.e. water tablets for fluid retention and the elderly may need smaller volumes
Over-hydration (too much water)
It is important to be mindful that consuming excessive amounts of fluid, as well as too little, are both associated with adverse health risks. Symptom; frequently passing clear colour urine.
Extreme overconsumption of fluids (approx 4L or more, when a person is not physically active). Your body will usually tell you that you are not thirsty and you may feel quite full from drinking excessive volumes of water.
Also occurs in people who don’t sweat much when exercising for long periods and drink lots of plain water (without replacing salts / electrolytes lost during exercise)
Health consequences: nausea, headaches, lung congestion, and on rare incidences it can even be fatal. On rare occasions can lead to hyponatraemia (low levels of sodium in the blood).
Tips to keep adequately hydrated throughout the day
• Set your aim for the day e.g. need to drink an extra 500 ml daily
• 2 litre bottle of water and use this for making up drinks throughout the day to monitor how much you are consuming
• Aim to spread out the 2 litres throughout the day – DEMO mugs & drinking glasses
• Sip rather than gulp large volumes
• Use a straw
• Bottle at desk and in the car
• Be mindful, particularly at weekends when out of routine
• Set a reminder on phone if necessary
• Mint flavoured water- add a handfull of fresh mint herb, top up the jug with water and leave for minimum 1 hour for flavours to infuse.
• Add berries or cucumber slices to a jug of water
• Add a small dash of unsweetened fruit juice e.g. cherry, grape or cranberry can be refreshing, have with a meal… the acid content and small amount of sugar will do less harm to teeth
• No added sugar type cordial or squash
• Grate fresh ginger and add boiling water for a refreshing home-made herbal tea
Problems with tap water
• Use filter jugs if excessive lime is an issue
• If tap water is heavily chlorinated and can’t tolerate the smell of it, consider buying bottled water or the filter jugs will remove some of the chlorine odour
• Don’t necessarily rely on the feeling of thirst as you may be even dehydrated at that point. Excessive thirst can be a symptom of type 2 Diabetes, so consult your Dr if there is a sudden onset of constant thirst
For more information, contact the clinic (087) 6802248