A high percentage of the population does not hydrate properly. Symptoms of dehydration can go unnoticed. How much water does your body need?

Life is based on a simple, odorless, and tasteless substance called water. After breathing, the body’s most pressing need is to drink.

Water is the most abundant component in living systems and we are no exception. An infant is made up of 70-80% water and an adult man, 59% (50% in the case of women).

Despite this, the body does not have water reserves, which determines all its management of water capital. The delicate balance of body water is established through a daily balance between its inputs and outputs.

The normal functioning of the body involves a continuous loss of water, so there is a constant tendency to dehydration. Under normal conditions, an adult eliminates about 2.5 liters of water per day, which corresponds to about 4% of their body weight. This water is eliminated mainly through the kidney, but also through the lungs when breathing, through the skin and through the intestine.

Water is obtained through ingested liquids (between 1 and 1.5 liters per day), the water contained in food (700-1000 ml) and the so-called oxidation water, a result of the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats (200 and 300 ml).

The fundamental thing is that the sum of inputs compensates for the water eliminated. Lack of water seriously compromises health.

However, according to the Observatory of Hydration and Health, the majority of the Spanish population does not drink enough. In many cases this is simply due to the fact that it is difficult to drink the necessary amount of liquid.

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WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF DEHYDRATION?

It is important to monitor your water intake to ensure that the body remains soaked in this essential fluid.

Not replacing fluids that are lost can cause:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • decreased physical and mental performance
  • fatigue
  • increased heart rate
  • visual difficulty
  • memory loss
  • decreased attention
  • Increased response time to visual stimuli.

With a loss of more than six liters, life begins to be in danger. It is, therefore, a balance as vital as it is precarious.

IS WATER PREFERABLE TO OTHER DRINKS?

Yes. Preferring water to other beverages, and if possible water with an adequate mineral salt content, is one of the points in the Decalogue for healthy hydration of the Spanish Society of Community Nutrition. At the opposite extreme are soft drinks (carbonated or not) sweetened with sugar or fructose.

IS IT GOOD TO DRINK WATER WITH MEALS?

The best way to incorporate water during meals is with foods that contain a large proportion of it, such as vegetables. Still, a glass or two of water while eating is usually not a problem. Lots of water can dilute gastric juices and have a satiating effect.

SHOULD YOU DRINK ONLY IF YOU ARE THIRSTY?

Although of great importance, thirst is a relatively late warning sign, manifesting when there is already some degree of dehydration.

Cells contract when there is a loss of water in the body and send an alarm signal to the brain, causing the sensation of thirst. It is better not to wait until you are thirsty.

HOW TO GET HYDRATED WELL?

You can drink liquids between meals , have water on hand, quickly attend to the sensation of thirst, keep drinks at a moderate temperature (if they are very cold or very hot, you usually drink less) and add some flavor to the drink (for example, lemon juice), to make it more attractive.

WHAT FOODS CONTAIN THE MOST WATER?

Most vegetables and fruits contain percentages of water between 75 and 95% of their weight.

Legumes and cereals have little water and oils and sugar, nothing.

DO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES HYDRATE?

Alcoholic beverages, although low in alcohol, are not considered a source of hydration. Alcohol has a diuretic effect: it increases urine output by 10 milliliters for every gram of alcohol ingested. When it comes to hydrating, choose non-alcoholic drinks.

WHAT INCREASES WATER LOSSES?

Losses increase with heat, exercise and due to certain problems, such as kidney and intestinal disorders or pulmonary hyperventilation.

In the case of heat, sweating is the mechanism that reduces the internal temperature of the body, but at the cost of losing water that must be replaced.

WHO IS AT RISK OF DEHYDRATION?

Especially children and the elderly.

  • In children because the percentage of body water is higher than that of adults and their thermoregulation system is less developed.
  • In the elderly, due to the lower availability and accessibility of drinks and the decrease in the perception of thirst.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE WELL HYDRATED?

A simple way to assess hydration is to observe the color of the urine: when it is clear and dilute it is an indication of good hydration, while if it is dark and dense it indicates a lack of water.

Also a rapid weight loss without apparent explanation can be due to a remarkable loss of water.

DOES WATER MAKE YOU FAT OR THIN?

One thing or another. Water cannot make you fat as it has zero calories. In overweight or obesity, excess weight occurs due to the accumulation of fat in the body, not water.

Water alone also does not make you thin, although it is often used liberally to reduce food intake.

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