Water is one of the most essential components of the human body.
Did you know that more than half of your body weight is water? The tiny bodies of babies have even higher water content (approx. 75%).
This large amount of water is essential for several body functions
If you are feeling drained and your energy level is low, ask yourself this: “how much am I drinking?"
1-2 percentage decrease is enough to develop headaches, lethargy, weakness, or just overall lack of alertness.
Thirst is already a signal that your body is on the way to dehydration. So it’s better if you prevent this stage.
What is your required fluid amount?
Approximately 1.5-2 litres of fluid intake per day is needed as the body eliminates this quantity of fluid every day through the skin, lungs, bladder, and intestines.
If you want to know the exact milliliters, here's a calculator.
If you have tried the calculator, you can see that needs are affected by age and even body weight, thus overweight or obese people must be more focused on hydration.
When temperature is hot or you are living in a dry, warm climate, the amount is higher, because of the intensified sweating. Exercising also increases the water demand.
Special risk groups
They are children and older people.
Their sense of thirst is not as well developed as in adults. It is important to keep an eye on how much and how often children drink, especially if they are very active. The elderly should be helped and encouraged to drink regularly. For them, regular intake of their favourite fruit juices, tea, and water-rich meals are recommended throughout the day in addition to water.
Summer is upon us, so I’ve tried to pick a few tips that could help you:
- Water (mineral or tap) is obviously the best source of liquid. Quenches your thirst effectively, does not contain any calorie or artificial additives. So choose water instead of sweetened and sugary beverages.
- Start by drinking a glass of fresh water when you get up in the morning.
- Drink a glass of water before and during meals.
- Carry a water bottle for easy access when you are at work or running errands.
- Give your water a little flavour by adding freshly squeezed lime or lemon. This may improve the taste, and you just might drink more water than you usually do.
- If the weather is really hot, freeze some bottles of water and take one with you, it keeps you cold for a longer time.
What else can you consume besides water?
Other drinks and foods can help you stay hydrated, but some may add extra calories from sugar to your diet.
- A cup of sugar-free herbal tea is a good choice, but beware of diuretic types (dandelion leaf, horsetail, stinging nettle tea).
- Hot water with a piece of fruit in it - like lemon, lime, orange, etc.- often helps those who want a hot drink.
- Drinks like fruit and vegetable juices, milk, and shakes can also contribute to hydration. 1-2 glasses per day is allowed to be taken.
Juices can be extremely easy to over-consume, which may lead you to taking more than your recommended daily calorie intake. There isn’t any problem with 1-1 portion of good quality juice (100% juices), but it should not replace consumption of real fruit or water.
Eat your water!
You can get some fluid through the foods you eat. This is more important if you tend to forget drinking. For example, fruits, veggies or some dairy products contain 85% to 95% water.
If you're planning a hydration-friendly meal, consume these water-rich foods often:
- watermelon, cucumber (these are the absolute category winners)
- cantaloupe, grapefruit, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, iceberg lettuce, sweet peppers, radishes, spinach, zucchini, and tomatoes
- milk, yoghurt, Greek-style yoghurt
Prepare the next dish types from the listed ingredients above, and eat them more times a day:
- Soups (e.g. chilled raw cream soups from fruits/veggies)
- Salads (e.g. Greek-style salad, tzatziki, strawberry salad)
- Frozen yoghurt (opt for homemade)
- Smoothies and shakes (from watermelon, cantaloupe, berries, etc.)
- Sauces (e.g. plenty of apple sauce next to the main course)
- Sugar-free homemade jell-o
- Homemade popsicles (occasionally :))
One portion of fresh green salad can replace half a glass of water!
What about coffee? Is it true that it causes dehydration?
Caffeine is a mild stimulant and high consumption contributes to dehydration and can disrupt your sleep. But studies have also shown that caffeine in amounts of the typical cup of coffee (or tea or a cola drink) does not have a dehydrating effect. 1mg of caffeine causes less than 1.5ml water excretion, so a cup of caffé americano or latté makes positive water balance. Avoid espresso (which is made just with a little amount of water) and too strong and too much coffee on hot summer days.
I hope, that I’ve helped you a little to make it easier to stay hydrated during the summer!