Hydration – Am I drinking enough?

The human body is 50-70% water, we cannot survive without it. Water carries nutrients around the body and waste products out of the body, it helps regulate body temperature and acts as a lubricant. It can also help with weight loss!

It’s well known that it’s not a good idea to get dehydrated. This can lead to fatigue, headaches, thirst, weakness, your speech and mental alertness can be affected. However this doesn’t mean you should drink as much as possible. Too much fluid (overhydration) will dilute the sodium and potassium balance in your blood, possibly leading to brain seizures and behavioural changes.

 

How do you know you are getting enough fluid?

It’s not pretty but the best way to tell is to look at your urine. If you are properly hydrated your urine should be a light yellow colour (1-3), if it is 4-5 you should have a drink and the 6-8 range is dehydration.

 

Hydration chart

Hydration chart

 

 

How much do we need to drink?

Specific guidelines have not been set for adults in the UK as there is so much variability between individuals. As a dietitian I use the figure 35ml of water per kg of body weight. This means a 70kg person would need about 2.5 litres of water a day. Surveys carried out on the UK population show men take in average of 3.4 litres a day and women 2.7 litres fluid a day.

Sounds like a lot? This isn’t all through drinking fluid. We take in water from our food as well, around 1 litre a day.

The best thing to do is to drink little and often, according to thirst. Have drinks with meals and if you are out and about a lot, take a drink with you.

What to drink?

Water is always the best drink to have, but not always what you want to drink. You can safely drink up to 4 cups of tea and coffee a day. Other good choices include 1 glass of fruit juice a day, milk, no added sugar squash, fruit and herbal teas.

This post was written for Slimsticks.

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