WATER INTAKE AND HEALTH
Water forms 60% of our body weight and is essential for life. It should be consumed in adequate amounts for proper functioning of various organs.
Normal water intake
1. Men: 3.7 liters per day
2. Women: 2.7 liters per day (Pregnant and breast-feeding women need more water).
20% of this comes from food (fruits, vegetables, beverages, etc) and the remaining should be consumed in the form of plain water.
When do we need more water?
1. Exercise– Exercise leads to water loss in the form of sweating. So, we should consume water before, during and after exercise. Avoid drinking too much water as it can be harmful; it could dilute the body fluids leading to hyponatremia (low sodium).
2. In hot climates– Water loss is more via perspiration and sweating, and hence, more water is needed.
3. During illnesses such as fever, vomiting and diarrhea. All these conditions lead to water loss and this loss needs to be replenished.
When should the water intake be reduced (less than normal intake)?
In some diseases, water intake needs to be reduced (under the supervision of a doctor). These are:
1. Chronic kidney disease,
2. Heart failure,
3. Chronic liver disease,
4. Hyponatremia (low sodium)- some cases are treated by restricting fluid intake.
How do we know whether our water intake is normal or not?
If you rarely feel thirsty and if the colour of your urine is light yellow (or colorless), your water intake is probably adequate.
What is the best way of getting our daily water requirement?
· Plain water is the best (safe, inexpensive, easily available and has zero calories).
· 20% of water can also come from fruits, vegetables, juice, milk, tea/coffee, etc
· Soft (carbonated drinks), sports drinks, energy drinks and alcohol should not be routinely relied upon to complete the daily quota of water. Sports drinks may be taken if one does rigorous exercise for one hour or more.
Can more water intake help in weight loss?
The answer is yes. This is because many times, thirst is confused with hunger. So, whenever you feel hungry, drink water first. People, who consume more water, end up consuming less salt, less sugar and less saturated fats (this leads to weight loss).
A bottle of water before main meals could aid in weight loss.
Replace soda with water, tea of coffee to fight diabetes
Yes, you heard it right. The habit of having a “soft drink” (carbonated beverage) to quench your thirst can increase your chances of getting diabetes, as it contains high amount of sugar. Replacing soda/soft drinks with water, tea or coffee (without sugar) leads to lesser chance of getting diabetes.
Is drinking water on empty stomach in mornings useful?
Yes, drinking water in morning on empty stomach is helpful. Most of us have not had water for about eight hours prior to getting up, leading to mild dehydration. So, one should consume 2-3 glasses (600-800 ml) of water in mornings. This helps in improving bowel movements & urination (leading to release of toxins). This would also reduce hunger, leading to lesser consumption of carbohydrates and fats (thus promoting weight loss).
Providing water dispensers in schools could also be a cheap method of reducing obesity in children.
Dr Sudhir Kumar MD DM (Neurology)
Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad