The body is highly dependent on water to keep it healthy by flushing toxins out of vital organs, carrying nutrients to cells and generally keep all parts ticking over nicely.
As water loss occurs through breathing, perspiration, urine and bowel movement, the body must replenish its water supply by consuming food and beverages that contain water. How much water is required depends on the individual with lifestyle and climatic changes influencing the need. On average though, a healthy adult man living in temperate regions require roughly 3 litres of total beverages per day, 2.2 litres for a woman.
In hot temperatures and humid weather conditions, or in high altitude, a person’s water requirements will increase due to higher water loss through perspiration, urination or breathing. Activities such as exercising and playing will also cause water loss. The longer duration and more intense the workout, the more water is required to replace that which is lost.
Illnesses too can take a toll on the body as a fever, vomiting or diarrhoea will cause dehydration. In some cases, oral rehydration solutions may be recommended by the doctor to replace mineral loss for a quicker recovery. Women who are pregnant or breast feeding also need extra fluids to stay hydrated, requiring up to 3 litres of water a day to maintain the body’s optimal working condition.
By the time a person feels thirst, the body is already mildly dehydrated. The initial signs of dehydration occur when the body is depleted by about 2% of total fluids and symptoms may include skin flushing, dark coloured and strong smelling urine, dry mouth, fatigue, headaches, chills and dizziness. In the medium to long term, constant lower levels of hydration will cause dull looking and flaky skin, bodily functions will operate less efficiently as complications set in.
Water is crucial for optimal health. Although beer, wine, coffee, tea and soft drinks do contribute towards the total fluid intake, water is still the best because it has no other added ingredients. Fruits and vegetables should make up the rest of fluid requirements for the day.