Water is responsible for making up nearly 60% of our total body weight.
It is contained in our bones, muscles, fat, blood and all of our cells soak in it. Staying hydrated is critical to effective daily function. Without sufficient water intake the body begins to suffer.
A drop in hydration levels as little as 3% can lead to increased heart stress, reduced aerobic endurance capacity and reduced muscle endurance ability. Adversely a drop of 6% in hydration levels could lead to physical exhaustion, heatstroke/coma and a 10% drop is potential death.
Now that we understand how important it is to stay hydrated, how do we measure what our hydration levels are?
The easiest method to check hydration is colour of your urine:
- Colourless – pale gold, and you are pretty well hydrated.
- Gold – Dark Gold, less hydrated but not urgent
- Light Brown – Dark brown, you are dehydrated and should consume fluids.
How much hydration do we need?
On top of any fluids we absorb from consumption of food (all foods have at least some water content, most more than you think), we need to consume approximately 30ml of water per kg of body weight. (e.g. If you weigh 80kgs, you will need approximately 2.4L of water per day to stay sufficiently hydrated.)
Can we over hydrate?
Yes definitely. There have been many cases where people have over hydrated themselves to death. Drinking too much water disrupts the water/sodium balance of the body which causes the cells to over absorb water and drown themselves.
Long story short, water is essential to healthy body function and regulation. Drinking approximately 30ml of water per kg body weight will keep you out of trouble from both extremes.