Like carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals, water is an essential nutrient for the human body. The main sources of water for the body obviously include water itself, but also other beverages, such as tea and coffee, and food, including fruits and vegetables. However, throughout the day, the body loses water through urine and stool, as well as through breath, skin and sweat. This fluid loss can lead to dehydration and symptoms such as 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 you consume daily?
The amount of water to drink each day varies according to several factors such as the level of physical activity, age and sex, but also the ambient temperature and humidity, as well as the presence or absence of certain symptoms such as fever, vomiting or diarrhoea.
In Canada, recommendations are presented in the form of Adequate Intakes (AIs). These take into account the total water intake which includes drinking water and water provided by food and beverages. The recommended AI in total water 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 AI increases to 3 L/day for pregnant women and 3.8 L/day for those who are breastfeeding. However, water and beverages generally represent the majority of intake for most individuals. Excluding food, 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 before, factors other than age and sex have an influence on 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 an adequate level of hydration.
What beverages contribute to total water intake?
Manydrinks can contribute to total water intake. This is particularly the case for drinks such astea, herbal tea, coffee, milk, vegetable drinks, juices, etc. However, there are a few things to consider before choosing a drink, including free sugars, caffeine, and alcohol content.
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 fruits 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 your 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 beverages. Beverages like tea and coffee are mostly made up of water and are good sources of hydration. Indeed, research does not confirm that caffeine has a diuretic effect that can lead to dehydration. Studies observe that above 180 mg per day it can increase urination transiently in some people, but without necessarily leading to dehydration. Therefore, caffeinated beverages, such as tea and coffee, contribute to total water intake. On the other hand, some 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, i.e. about eight cups of tea or two to three cups of coffee, and 300 mg per day for pregnant or breastfeeding women, i.e. 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 can 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 alternately with water to reduce the risk of dehydration.
Some tips for consuming more water
Water should be the beverage of choice on a daily basis. However, some people may find it difficult to consume 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 withfruits, 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 intake.
- Be alert to 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