There is a popular saying that “water is life”. The body is made of about 60% of water and maintenance of a correct water balance is essential for good health.
Why do we need water?
Water is needed by all the cells and organs in the body in order for them to function properly. It is also used to lubricate the joints, protect the spinal cord, regulate body temperature and assist the passage of food in the intestines. Other benefits include keeping up energy levels and brain function. Water helps to prevent constipation and kidney stones too.
What is water balance?
Water balance is determined by how much water we take in and how much we lose.
We lose water through:
- our gastrointestinal tract (faeces) about 200mls
- kidneys (urine) about 1500mls,
- skin (sweating) about 500mls
- lungs (breathing) about 400mls.
Exercise and a hot weather can increase the amount of water we lose.
On the other hand, we gain water by:
- drinking water.
- taking drinks like juices, milk and beverages.
- eating food (there is some water in our food)
- water-rich fruits like watermelon, pineapple and oranges.
So how much water should I drink daily?
It used to be recommended that we drink eight (8 ounce) glasses of water which is about 2 litres or half a gallon. This is called the 8x8 rule, very easy to remember.
However, this is not a magical formula as there are many factors that determine how much water you actually need to drink. There are certain circumstance that require an increase in water intake. These instances include:
- participating in strenuous exercise
- a hot weather
- breastfeeding mothers
- or in disease states like diarrhoea.
How do I know if I have taken enough water?
Generally, if you drink enough water, you won't feel thirsty. Also, your urine would be less concentrated- colourless or slightly yellow.
In conclusion, ward off dehydration by making sure your body has the amount of water it needs. Make water your beverage of choice.