By: 4th Year BINM Student Cindy Tran
Water is one of the most important substances in the human body. It acts as a solvent, a carrier for nutrients and waste products, a thermoregulator, lubricant, and shock absorber. It is the main constituent of our cells, tissues, organs and necessary for life itself. As it is essential to so many bodily functions, its balance is regulated very precisely. The body constantly controls water intake as well as water loss in order to maintain homeostasis. Indeed, mild dehydration of just 1-2% can impair cognitive function, alertness and capacity for exercise.
There are two main sources of water intake: water contained in food eaten (contributes ~20 -30% of total water intake) and beverages. Different factor s such as climate, physical activity, and diet determine our water requirements. On average, it is recommended that a sedentary adult drink about 1.5L of water daily, with increased hydration required if there is extra water loss (e.g. through increased sweating or urination). This value does not include the 0.5 – 1L of water that is obtained from food, which means that our daily water requirements are approximately 2.5L in total. The main sources of water loss are through the kidneys (urination ? which increases with the consumption of diuretic beverages such as black tea, coffee, and alcohol), respiratory tract (via evaporation), skin (perspiration) and digestive tract (in feces). On average, an adult loses 3L of water per day. During the summer months, we must be extra conscious about our water intake and hydration since the increased heat, sweating and physical activity make us susceptible to dehydration.
Best ways to prevent dehydration this summer :
- Keep a water bottle handy for all outings
- Sip water throughout the day even if you don’t feel thirsty
- Increase your water intake if:
- You are spending prolonged periods outside in hot weather
- You are increasing physical activity and sweating
- Ask your naturopathic doctor about how to make natural electrolyte drinks to replenish those lost in sweat and urine –
- Consider free Apps such as Waterbalance to track your water intake
Jequier, E., Constant, F. (2010) Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 64: 115 – 123