We all know that water, or H20, is an essential component of our diet especially living in Australia through the summer months. However, as temperatures drop, the physical need to chug down a big glass of water often does too. Does this mean the focus on staying hydrated should fade away? No – water consumption is important all year round, not just the warmer months and it is essential to your health that you remain hydrated, even during these cooler months.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it… But, WHY is H20 consumption SO important?
Let’s dig deeper.
Importance of Water Consumption
For starters, our bodies consist of 50-80% water, so, it makes sense that fluid consumption plays a huge role in the day to day function of our bodies. On top of the fact that we are basically MADE from water, we lose between 2-3 litres of water or more per day through our regular, involuntary bodily processes outside of the external factors such of temperature (Channel, 2020). Of course, that needs to be replenished – even when the temperature cools down.
Under the magnifying glass, water is used within the body for the following process (as well as many others):
- Waste removal
- Consumption of essential minerals
- Delivery of nutrients and oxygen to our body’s cells
- Digestion and prevention of constipation
- Assisting in regulating our body temperature
- Aiding in the formation of structures in our bodies. (Better Health Channel, 2020)
These processes do not stop when the cold weather hits, despite our thirst or desire for water often declining at this time of year. A decline in this urge to drink may be further exacerbated as we age, as our thirst response decreases as we get older. This makes keeping our water intake on track increasingly important – particularly in the elderly.
How Much Water Do We Require?
Water requirements will vary from person to person, however, as a general rule:
- Females require around ~2.1 litres of fluid per day (8 cups)
- Males require around 2.6 litres of fluid per day (~10 cups). (Better Health Channel, 2020)
You may need more or less depending on your level of activity, the temperature and other factors such as certain health conditions.
What Are the Signs of Dehydration?
There are a number of signs and symptoms which may indicate you are not getting enough fluid, including:
- Colour of urine (see figure below)
- Dry mouth
- Other symptoms including headache, thirst, dizziness and dry skin
Top Tips for Increasing Consumption
Here are our top tips for staying hydrated:
- Have a glass before or with each main meal and snack! Mealtimes can be a great reminder to drink up.
- Fill a 2.5L bottle and aim to finish it by the end of the day
- Try herbal teas or warm water with a squeeze of lemon or lime
- Make it more exciting by infusing it with flavours using berries, lemon, lime with mint or even cucumber!
- If you are craving something fizzy, go for sparkling or mineral water with a squeeze of lemon or lime
- Include fruits and vegetables at your main meals and snacks as these are a good source of water. Winter warmers such as veggie soups are another great way to get extra fluid in!
- Use a printable tracker to keep tabs on your water intake!
- Try a free water tracking app on your phone such as ‘Daily Water’, Waterlogged or ‘ Drink Water Reminder N Tracker’
- Set a reminder or alarm on your phone to prompt you to take a drink.
What About Other Fluids? Do They Count?
Tea and Coffee?
Yes! Tea and coffee often get a bad rep and are thought to dehydrate us, however, research has shown no difference in the hydration status of regular coffee drinkers vs those who drank the same volume of fluid from water (Killer et al., 2014). So these winter warmers are a good way to enhance our fluid intake.
Fruit Juice or Soft Drink?
Although sweet beverages such as fruit juice, soft drink and cordials do contain water, they also contain sugar and extra energy (kilojoules) which can contribute to weight gain and tooth decay. This means these are best avoided and limited.
All in all, despite fluid intake receiving greater focus during the warmer months, it is essential we stay hydrated all year round. If you are interested in learning more about nutrition, head to our website and get in touch with one of our incredible dietitians today!