Proper hydration is as important a factor as a balanced diet for our health and well-being. Water is undoubtedly the most important component of the human body, essential for our survival, as it constitutes about 60% of our body weight and participates in all physiological functions.
Why do we get thirsty and drink more fluids in the summer?
It is typical that the high temperatures that develop in the summer are dealt with by the human body through the elimination of water from the urine, lungs and sweat and most of us report that along with the need for more fluids. The tendency, therefore, to ask for and drink more fluids during the summer period is not accidental, as water is a component of our diet that we cannot store and need to take in all the time.
Can the heat reduce my appetite?
Indeed, it is common for our appetite to decrease in response to high temperatures. The truth is that we cannot say unequivocally whether the tendency to reduce smaller amounts of food is due to a reduction in appetite or just another homeostasis mechanism that we consciously adopt. Heat is produced during the consumption of a meal due to the process of digestion. Therefore, the more "heavy" and indigestible our meal is, the more our temperature increases and we become hot. For this reason, the preference for fruits and vegetables increases significantly, leaving aside fatty and indigestible foods.
How much water should I drink every day to avoid dehydration?
Our body cannot store water, so the amount eliminated in a 24-hour period must be replenished during the day. The body's water requirements vary according to age, gender, weight and physical activity levels, as well as external factors such as the ambient temperature. An adult woman with an energy intake of 2000 calories is estimated to need to consume about 2 litres of fluid (1 ml of fluid/ 1 calorie). Of this, it has been estimated that 20% is covered by food consumption (mainly fruit and vegetables, yoghurt and soups) and the remaining 80% by fluids, equivalent to about 6-8 glasses of fluids.
What is the risk if I do not consume enough fluids?
According to recent studies, the concept of proper hydration is not limited to avoiding heat stroke in the summer. Adequate hydration has been shown to boost memory as well as the ability to concentrate and solve problems. It is significant that even a dehydration level of 3% can alter our cognitive functions. Proper hydration also protects skin health, helps to remove wasteful by-products of our metabolism (toxins) and regulates bowel function.
What if I don't feel like drinking water?
Sure, you can't wait to get thirsty. It has been shown that when we start to get thirsty, we have already suffered some degree of dehydration. However, more than a few people avoid water either because they can't remember or don't want to drink the necessary amount. According to the Institute of Medicine of the United States Academy of Sciences, apart from water, all non-alcoholic drinks and beverages such as milk, juices, tea, coffee and caffeinated soft drinks have a hydrating effect if they contain 85%-99% water. With regard to the diuretic effect of caffeine and the view that it causes dehydration, recent scientific evidence suggests that this diuretic effect is mild and transient and therefore cannot lead to dehydration.
What does all this mean?
That, in addition to water, which should always be our first choice, we can choose a coffee or an iced tea and, when we are thirsty, a juice or soft drink - preferably light - and add them to the 'counter' of our daily needs.
*The content of this article, including any medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual. Use of this website and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your personal physician in connection with any questions or problems you are experiencing with your health.