We have all heard the line before; from our parents, from our teachers, from our coaches- “Drink more water!”
It is important that we understand the role of water in our body, and what can happen if we do not consume enough of it.
Our body is made up of approximately 60% water. This exact percentage depends on age and gender. ⅔ of that water is contained within our cells (intracellular) and ⅓ outside our cells (extracellular). Drinking water is crucial to staying healthy and maintaining the function of every system in your body.
Your body has lots of important jobs and it needs water to do many of them. Water plays a role in maintaining blood volume and circulation. Water plays a role in regulating body temperature. Water plays a role in transporting nutrients and waste products around our body. Water plays a role in maintaining healthy kidney function. Water plays a role in the lubrication of our organs and our joints, and assists in shock absorption for our brain. The list keeps going on and on.
In order to keep ourselves hydrated, for our body to be able to function optimally, we need to consume water on a daily basis. The recommended amount of total water intake, according to the Institute of Medicine, is 3.7L for Adult males and 2.7L for Adult Females. 80% of this total comes from water and other beverages, and approximately 20% from our food intake. Therefore, adequate water intake is between 9-13 cups of water per day respectively for females and males.
Adequate water intake is necessary to prevent the effects of dehydration, which include metabolic and functional abnormalities. There are many adverse effects of dehydration on health and performance, backed up by numerous studies and experimental trials, over many years. For more information about this I strongly suggest you read the article titled “Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate” published by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.
In brief, and primarily in relation to exercise, dehydration can adversely influence cognitive function and motor control, adversely influence aerobic and endurance-type exercise performance as well as anaerobic exercise performance, reduces a person’s ability to tolerate exercise-heat stress, and may induce higher fevers.
So, we need water to survive. We need a lot of water to function optimally. If you are not consuming the recommended amount of water each day, you are putting your health at risk, but you are also disabling your body from performing at it’s peak. Filling our bodies with the right fuel- food and water- should be of paramount importance to all- but especially to those who are exercising on a daily basis, trying to stay fit and healthy, and improve performance.
Here are some simple steps to follow to stay hydrated and optimise your performance:
- Start your day by drinking a cup of water. Make it the first thing you do once you get out of bed.
- Do not wait until you are thirty to drink. Keep a bottle of water on you at all time, or a glass of water with you at your desk at work.
- Consume more water around your training, as we lose a lot through our sweat and temperature regulation.
- Keep an eye on the colour of your urine. Whilst some other factors affect urine colour, and it’s not the most accurate of measures, it will give you a good indication of whether you are staying hydrated.
We hope that we have helped you understand why water is such an important part of our lives, and necessary for health and performance. Good luck keeping hydrated, and if you have any questions or concerns please reach out- we are happy to help.
IOM (Institute of Medicine). 2005. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride and Sulphate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press