Water, often referred to as the elixir of life, is essential to normal bodily functioning and makes up a large proportion of the human body; around 60% for men and 50-55% for women. In the body water is responsible for:
- transporting nutrients
- regulating body temperature
- removing waste
Because your body loses water through breathing, sweating urinating and digesting food, it's really important to drink enough throughout the day otherwise the body will become dehydrated. Studies have shown that at 1% dehydration (1% of body weight), there is risk of negative effects on physical and mental function. When dehydrated, the body signals the kidneys to reduce the amount of water lost via the urine, therefore the more dehydrated you are, the darker your urine will become.
We can get water not only from our drinks, but from our food as well as. It's estimated that 20% of our daily water intake comes from the food we consume. Therefore, it's important to eat foods with a high water content such as:
- fruits and vegetables (80-95% water)
- soups and broths (92% water)
- plain yogurt (88% water)
- cottage cheese (80% water)
Types of drinks
- Water: provides hydration without extra calories or harm to teeth. Should be consumed regularly throughout the day.
- Milk: a good source of protein and other nutrients like B vitamins, iodine and calcium. The low fat options provide some nutrients without additional calories whereas fuller fat options contain higher amounts of vitamins A and D. Should be consumed 1-2 times a day.
- Fruit juices and smoothies: provide some vitamins but are usually sugary and acidic which is harmful to teeth.
- Tea and coffee: provides some nutrients and antioxidants. Try to avoid in large quantities due to high caffeine content and try to limit cream and sugar. Instead opt for cows or plant milk and either no sugar or sweetener.
- Sugar free drinks: even if they don't contain sugar, fizzy drinks may still be harmful to teeth due to the acids they contain. They also sometimes contain caffeine so it’s important to limit these drinks. The full sugar versions of these drinks should ideally be avoided altogether as they are very harmful to teeth.
- Energy and sports drinks: both contain high amounts of sugar and usually high amounts of caffeine and other stimulants too. Only consume sports drinks if necessary during high intensity exercise and try to limit or avoid energy drinks.
If you're wondering how much water you need, the Eat well Guide recommends consuming 6-8 glasses of water a day. However, everyone is different. This is simply a guide and you should adjust your water intake to how you are feeling, how much you're exercising and how hot the weather is. If you find it difficult to meet this recommendation, remember that you can get a lot of water from the foods you eat and from the drinks listed above.
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