Like carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals, water is an essential nutrient in the human body. The body's main sources of water obviously include water itself, but also other drinks, such as tea and coffee, as well as foods, including fruits and vegetables. However, throughout the day, the body loses water through urine and stools, as well as through breathing, skin and sweat. This fluid loss can lead to dehydration and symptoms like dry mouth, headaches and difficulty concentrating. It is therefore important to replace water losses regularly during the day in order to reduce the risk of dehydration.
How much water should we consume daily??
The amount of water to drink each day varies depending on several factors such as level of physical activity, age and gender, but also ambient temperature and humidity, as well as the presence or absence of certain symptoms such as fever, vomiting or diarrhea.
In Canada, recommendations are presented in the form of Adequate Intakes (AI). These take into account total water intake which includes drinking water and water provided by drinks and food. The recommended total water intake for women 19 years and older is 2.7 L/day and 3.7 L/day for men in the same age group. The recommended AS increases to 3 L/day for pregnant women and 3.8 L/day for those who are breastfeeding. However, water and beverages typically make up the majority of intake for most individuals. Excluding foods, the recommended AI for women 19 years and older is 2.2 L/day and 3 L/day for men in the same age group. The recommended AI increases to 2.3 L/day for pregnant women and 3.1 L/day for those who are breastfeeding.
Finally, as mentioned previously, factors other than age and gender influence the amount of water needed. For example, daily requirements increase with physical activity, ambient temperature and the presence of fever, vomiting and diarrhea. As water losses are increased in these situations, additional water intake is necessary to replace them and maintain adequate hydration levels.
What drinks contribute to total water intake?
Several drinks can contribute to total water intake. This is particularly the case for drinks such as tea, herbal tea, coffee, milk, vegetable drinks, juices, etc. However, there are a few things to consider before choosing a drink, including the content of free sugars, caffeine and alcohol.
First, it is important to pay attention to the free sugar content of different drinks. Free sugars include monosaccharides (e.g. glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (e.g. sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and beverages, as well as sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, juices, fruit and fruit juices from concentrate (WHO, 2015). For health, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends limiting free sugar intake to 50 grams (4 tablespoons) per day. According to the WHO, it would be even better for health to reduce the intake of free sugars to 25 grams (2 tablespoons) per day. Knowing that drinks such as iced teas, fruit juices, chocolate milk, soft drinks and energy drinks can contain a high amount of free sugars, it is best to limit their consumption and replace them with water or unsweetened tea, herbal teas and coffee daily.
Second, pay attention to the caffeine content of caffeinated drinks. Beverages like tea and coffee are mostly water and are good sources of hydration. Indeed, research does not confirm that caffeine has a diuretic effect that could lead to dehydration. Studies observe that beyond 180 mg per day it can increase urination transiently in certain people, but without necessarily leading to dehydration. Therefore, caffeinated drinks, such as tea and coffee, contribute to total water intake. On the other hand, certain drinks, such as energy drinks, can contain a high amount of caffeine. As a reminder, Health Canada recommends limiting caffeine consumption to 400 mg per day for adults, or approximately eight cups of tea or two to three cups of coffee, and to 300 mg per day for pregnant or breastfeeding women, or about six cups of tea or one to two cups of coffee.
Finally, the alcohol content of alcoholic beverages is another important aspect to consider. This is because alcohol makes it easier for the body to eliminate water by suppressing arginine vasopressin, an antidiuretic hormone that signals the kidneys to reduce urination and reabsorb water into the body. Therefore, alcoholic beverages may increase the risk of dehydration and are not among the beverages that contribute to total water intake. If you drink alcoholic beverages, it is recommended to consume them in moderation, with food and alternating with water to reduce the risk of dehydration.
Some tips for consuming more water
Water should be the daily drink of choice. However, some people may have difficulty consuming enough. Here are some tips for consuming more:
- Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up.
- Have a reusable water bottle with you at all times.
- Flavor your water with fruits, cucumber, lime, lemon, fresh herbs, etc.
- Drink water during meals.
- Drink herbal tea, unsweetened tea or coffee.
- Use an app to track your daily water consumption.
- Pay attention to the symptoms of dehydration: thirst, dry mouth, headache, dark yellow urine, etc.
- https://www.unlockfood.ca/fr/Articles/Eau/L-hydration,-ca-coule-de-source.aspxaliaspath=%2fen%2fArticles%2fWater%2fFacts-on-Fluids-How-to-stay- hydratedd