Each of our bodies is around 60-65% water, and that amount needs to be continually replenished to make up for water lost through the sweat, breathing and urine we release each day. Many people, however, fail to give their bodies enough fresh water each day, resulting in physical discomfort and the possibility of genuine health problems as a consequence.
With that in mind, let’s look at water drinking, the impact it has on our health, some guidelines for getting the right amount of water each day, and a few warning signs for those who aren’t replenishing their body’s natural water levels adequately.
What are the benefits of drinking water?
Every creature on Earth needs water to survive, as its ability to absorb other materials allows water to act as a delivery system for nutrients around the body. Water also helps regulate your body temperature, keeps your skin fresh, allows your kidneys to remove toxins from the body and helps your joints and muscles to operate at a low level of friction. Drinking 2 litres of water a day can burn up to 96 kcal and a well-hydrated body could more likely to help weight loss, particularly when the person drinks before eating.
What are the symptoms of dehydration?
Dehydration prevents the body from working at its natural capacity. Signs of dehydration include darker yellow urine and constipation, as well as debilitating conditions such as headaches, muscle cramps, lightheadedness and a general feeling of fatigue. According to a study at Loughborough University in England, 5% drop in water levels in the body can cause a 25-30% drop in energy levels. Even a 3% drop can also stop the brain from functioning fully.
How much water should you drink per day?
Water intake depends on body size, but as a general average, doctors tend to recommend drinking the equivalent of eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. This amount translates to roughly 1.9 litres in total for healthy hydration. Some people with smaller bodies or those living in cooler climates may only need six glasses per day, while others may need more.
What are the guidelines for those living in a hot countries like Thailand and other South East Asian Countries?
Hot temperatures increase the rate the human body loses water, and so it becomes even more important to drink enough to replenish what is lost. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can become more likely in hot climates, where the person doesn’t drink enough water.
If you find yourself sweating during much of the day, it is best to increase your water intake by two additional glasses – making a total of 10 glasses of water for the average person.
Do other liquids count?
For people not in the habit of drinking plain water, there is good news. In a typical day, around 20% of our water intake comes through food. Fruits and vegetables contain water, and their contribution to the body’s water balance is just as valuable as water from more-direct sources.
In fact, milk is an even better source of water than water itself. Your intestines absorb milk more slowly than they absorb water, which means that your body can hold onto the moisture in milk for a longer period of time. Ordinary drinking water, by contrast, passes through the body more quickly.
Moreover, milk contains sodium and potassium – essential electrolytes that your body needs to maintain its energy levels, but which are not held in pure water. Electrolytes are also necessary for keeping your body processes in balance and need to be replenished as well.
On the other hand, diuretics such as alcohol and caffeine actually use up the body’s water supply during the metabolism process, meaning that they should not be used as sources of hydration.
Top Tip: Add a slice of lemon, lime or basil to improve the flavour of your water.
Can you drink too much water?
If a person drinks too much water – usually in response to high temperatures and lots of sweating – their electrolytes could decrease to dangerously low levels, and blood could become overly diluted. This means the liquid moves from your blood to inside your cells, which can cause your organs to swell. This causes a condition known as hyponatremia, which is very serious.
In most cases, over-consumption of water is not a particularly likely outcome, the issue usually lie when you drink too much too fast. It is indeed a good practice to bring along a nutrient-rich sports drink for staying hydrated if you plan to exercise for a long time. Other exercise-related health tips can be found in our interview with coach Nil Gonzalez from RSM Box HIIT in Bangkok.
When should I contact my doctor?
In extreme cases of dehydration, you may begin to run a fever, have difficulty breathing, or experience confusion, chest or belly pains, or even seizures or fainting. Any of these conditions is enough to warrant a trip to the hospital, perhaps the emergency room if the symptoms are severe.
Hydration is just one of many resources the body needs to stay in good working order over time. Regular check-ups and maintenance are also important, as is treatment when health conditions do occur. Luma provides a variety of personal insurance plans to ensure that you get the support you need to live in good health. Contact us today for more information about how we can help you.
Please note that the above are just guidelines to staying hydrated and should be adjusted according to your age and lifestyle.