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weareNHFTHYDRATION FOR HEALTH
A GUIDE TO GOOD HYDRATIONWater is essential for life and has many functions. It is a major constituent of the body and every cell in the body requires fluid. At birth the human body is approximately 70% water, whereas in the elderly it is about 55%.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T DRINK ENOUGH?
Drinking enough is vital to maintain good health. In the short term if you don’t consume enough water you will become dehydrated. The initial signs of dehydration are increased thirst and a dry mouth. Other effects include tiredness, poor concentration, headaches and dizziness or feeling light headed. In the longer term not drinking enough can contribute to constipation, kidney stones, urinary tract infections and kidney disease. Elderly people are at increased risk of urinary infections and falls if they are dehydrated.
WHAT DOES WATER DO FOR YOU?
Needed by the brain to manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters
Converts food to components neededfor surviva
– digestionHelps deliver oxygenall over the body
Regulates body temperature (sweating and respiration)
Acts as a shock absorber for brain and spinal cord
Allows body’s cells to grow,
reproduce and surviveFlushes body waste,
mainly in urineLubricates jointsWater is the major component of most body part
Forms saliva (digestion)
Keeps mucousal membranes moist
HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO DRINK?
In the UK, drinks provide 70 – 80 % of our water needs; the remaining 20 – 30% comes from food such as soup, stews, ice cream, jelly some fruits such as melon and vegetables such as celery.
These are average values and an individual’s requirement will depend on many factors including temperature, humidity and exercise. Women who are pregnant or lactating will have increased fluid requirements. Warm and dry environments such as air conditioned offices or centrally heated homes increase the need for water as they speed up the evaporation of sweat on the skin. Some people are required to follow a fluid restriction; this will be as advised by your health care professional
HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO DRINK?
Thirst is only part of the way we regulate hydration in the body. When you drink you stop feeling thirsty before your body is completely rehydrated. The colour of urine is the best indicator; if you are drinking enough your urine should be a straw or pale yellow colour.
What Is the Average (and Ideal) Percentage of Water in Your Body?
Though the actual average percentages of water in the human body vary by gender, age, and weight, one thing is consistent: Starting at birth, more than half of your body weight is composed of water.
The average percentage of body weight that is water will remain above 50 percent for most or all of your life, though it does decline over time.
Keep reading to learn how much of your body is water and where all this water is stored. You’ll also discover how water percentages change as you age, how your body uses all this water, and how to determine your body water percentage.
For the first few months of life, nearly three-fourths of your body weight is made up of water. That percentage starts to decline before you reach your first birthday, however.
The decreasing water percentage through the years is due in large part to having more body fat and less fat-free mass as you age. Fatty tissue contains less water than lean tissue, so your weight and body composition affect the percentage of water in your body.
The following charts represent the average total water in your body as a percentage of body weight, and the ideal range for good health.
With all this water in your body, you may wonder where in your body it’s stored. The following table shows how much water resides in your organs, tissue, and other body parts.
Water storage at the cellular level
No matter where it is in the body, water is stored in:
- intracellular fluid (ICF), the fluid within cells
- extracellular fluid (ECF), the fluid outside the cells
About two-thirds of the body’s water is within the cells, while the remaining third is in extracellular fluid. Minerals, including potassium and sodium, help maintain ICF and ECF balances.
Water is essential in every system and function of the body, and has many responsibilities. For example, water:
- is a building block of new cells and the key nutrient every cell relies on for survival
- metabolizes and transports proteins and carbohydrates from the food you eat to nourish your body
- helps the body flush waste, mainly through urine
- helps maintain a healthy body temperature through sweat and respiration when the temperature rises
- is part of the “shock absorber” system in the spine
- protects sensitive tissue
- is part of the fluid that surrounds and protects the brain and a baby in the womb
- is the main ingredient in saliva
- helps keep joints lubricated
You can use online calculators to determine the percentage of water in your body. There are also formulas you can use. The Watson Formula, for example, calculates total body water in liters.
Watson formula for men
2.447 – (0.09145 x age) + (0.1074 x height in centimeters) + (0.3362 x weight in kilograms) = total body weight (TBW) in liters
Watson formula for women
–2.097 + (0.1069 x height in centimeters) + (0.2466 x weight in kilograms) = total body weight (TBW) in liters.
Getting enough water depends on the food and beverages you consume each day. The ideal amount of water you should consume varies greatly, depending on factors such as age, weight, health, and activity level.
Your body naturally tries to maintain healthy water levels by excreting excess water in urine. The more water and fluids you drink, the more urine is produced in the kidneys.
If you don’t drink enough water, you won’t go to the bathroom as much because your body tries to conserve fluids and maintain an appropriate water level. Too little water consumption raises the risk of dehydration and possible harm to the body.
To calculate how much water you should drink daily to maintain a healthy amount of water in your body, divide your weight in pounds by 2 and drink that amount in ounces.
For example, a 180-pound person should aim for 90 ounces of water, or about seven to eight 12-ounce glasses, each day.
Keep in mind that you can consume water in a variety of ways. A glass of orange juice is mostly water, for instance.
Be careful, though, because caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea, or certain sodas, can have a diuretic effect. You will still retain a lot of the water in those drinks, but the caffeine will make you urinate more often, so you’ll lose more fluid than you would drinking water.
Alcohol has also diuretic properties and isn’t a healthy way to reach your water-consumption goals.