The question of how much water to drink a day is not as easy as you’d think. The European Food Standards Agency reminds that around 30% of our fluid intake comes from the food we consume, particularly fruit and vegetables. They commend that adults should make up the rest with around four pints (for men) and three pints (for women) of non-alcoholic fluids a day.
In hot weather, those who are physically active or those who have a fever, lose more fluid. They lose fluid from sweating and an increased breathing rate. It means you must drink far more fluid on a bright day than in winter.
People tend to be less active when getting older. But probably do need as much fluid as physically active younger people. This is because your body is less capable of preserving water by reabsorbing it in the kidneys.
What you need to know about water tablets
Water tablets are also called as ‘diuretics’. They are commonly given for heart failure or high blood pressure. In hot weather, they can raise your risk of thirst or dehydration, so be cautious for symptoms of dehydration. But, they are generally given as you have excessive fluid on board, so don’t overcompensate by drinking more.
Fizzy drinks – beware!
These days, most doctors advise avoiding sugary drinks as they contain a number of ’empty’ calories. These calories can damage your teeth. There are over 140 calories in a can of fizzy drink. Thus, if you’re eating all the calories you require, adding a single daily can of fizzy drink adds up.
Diet drinks get around the calories but recent researches propose they may trick your body into laying down additional fat, so are best taken in control. Also, there are no calories in water, so drink it freely!
What counts towards your fluid intake?
Non-alcoholic fluids, comprising coffee, tea and fruit juice, all count towards the fluid intake. Many people believe, wrongly, that tea and coffee are diuretics and dehydrate you.
Actually, below around 400 mg a day of caffeine don’t dehydrate you and can count towards your daily fluid intake. A mug of immediate coffee comprises around 100 mg and a cup of tea about 50 mg, so you’d need to pass the 8-cups-of-tea a day mark to have to worry!
Alcohol doesn’t count!
Alcohol has a diuretic effect. It means that instead of hydrating you, it makes you pass more water. But you cannot use the excuse that I am keeping my fluid intake up with a pint or three to balance all the dangers of alcohol to your health.
What are the symptoms of dehydration?
Early symptoms and signs of dehydration include;
- Dark (rather than pale straw-colored) urine.
- Not passing water often.
- Poor concentration.
- Dizziness, feeling tired and light-headed.
In some cases, you may feel weak – therefore the term ‘heat exhaustion’ is used. This term is mostly used due to dehydration. People should know how much water to drink a day.
Expectantly you’ll never see anybody with, let alone suffer yourself from, severe dehydration – it can be life-threatening. Symptoms contain sunken eyes; confusion and irritability; weak, rapid pulse; sagging skin and cold hands and feet.
It might seem apparent that if you are dehydrated, you’ll feel thirsty. But it is important to know that as you get older, your body gets less good at understanding the dehydration symptoms and ‘telling’ you how much water to drink a day. This makes you more susceptible to dehydration.