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A guide to water and health – in graphics
Of the countless challenges we face each day, it’s easy to take drinking enough water for granted. What are the health benefits of drinking the right amount of water?
If drinking water is always to hand, we can simply have some when we feel thirsty. However, it isn’t always this easy.
Two-thirds of Americans don’t drink enough water. Meanwhile, 1 in 5 GP consultations in the UK are down to tiredness and fatigue. These can be symptoms of dehydration, which drinking enough could help alleviate.
How much water do I need?
For a healthy intake of water, the British Nutrition Foundation recommends 1.6L for women per day. For men, it’s 2L of water per day, which is 730 litres per year – more than nine baths! This recommended intake should be increased if you are engaged in strenuous activity.
Why do I need to drink this much water?
Water makes up to 60% of an adult’s and 75% of an infant’s bodyweight and performs crucial roles in the maintenance of our bodies.
Dehydration can affect mental performance and have a negative affect at work, as well as when you get home.
The percentage of water that makes up many organs and body parts is very high. The brain and heart are 73% water, lungs 83% and muscles 79%.
Is dehydration a risk for expats?
Yes – moving to a country with a very hot climate, such as the UAE, brings its own health risks, especially if you are originally from a colder country.
It’s very important to be aware of water loss from your body in a hot climate, particularly if you plan on doing exercise outdoors, as the result can be potentially very serious.
You could end up with heat exhaustion, or in more serious circumstances, heatstroke. This is where the body can longer cool itself and your temperature becomes dangerously high.
Heatstroke can put a dangerous amount of strain on the brain, heart, kidneys, liver and lungs.
How do I know if I am dehydrated?
- Dark yellow or brown urine
- Dry, sticky mouth
- Few or no tears when crying
- Increased thirst
- Muscle tiredness
- Sleepiness or tiredness
- Children may be less active than usual.
Tips to stay hydrated
1.Try to drink your recommended amount of fluids for you throughout the day.
As well as water, this includes hot drinks, such as tea and coffee, and other cold drinks, such as juice.
However, care should be taken around sugar and caffeine intake with other drinks. Caffeinated hot drinks do not affect hydration, but excessive caffeine intake can affect health. Pregnant women should limit their intake of caffeine, and caffeinated drinks are not suitable for children. Fruit juice, and other sweet drinks, can contain high or very high levels of sugar. As such, there are other health considerations when drinking high-sugar drinks.
2. Include water-heavy foods in your diet wherever possible.
3. Monitor your urine.
While there are gadgets available to test urine for dehydration, it is easy to gauge how hydrated you are by the colour of the urine you pass. The ideal urine colour is a pale yellow, which is an indication that you are well hydrated. If your urine is darker yellow then it’s a sign of dehydration.