The body needs water to function. Almost all chemical reactions happening in the body cells depend on water. Water is also needed for the blood to carry nutrients to all organs and for the body to dispose of waste products. But we lose water all the time when we breathe, sweat and urinate. For us it is important not to get dehydrated and to replace this loss.
Signs of dehydration
The first sign of dehydration is thirst. Urinary output is reduced, which allows the urine becomes more concentrated and yellow. When the degree of dehydration increases, there may be more signs, including:
- Dry mouth
- Decreased sweating
- Muscle cramps
- Dark urine
- Decreased urine output
How much should you drink per day?
Urinary output for an adult is on average 1.5 liters per day. In addition you lose about a liter through breathing and sweating. Food normally account for about 20% of the total fluid intake. That means if you drink 2 liters of water or other beverages a day, you will normally replace the daily loss of fluid. However, there are some factors that influence the need:
- Training. If you exercise or participate in any other activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink more water to compensate for fluid loss. For a shorter workout, 4-6 cups of extra water enough, but the intense training over an hour, you may need more.
- Environment. Hot or humid weather can help you sweat more and increase the need for fluids. In addition, at the heights of over 2,500 meters urine output increases and speeds up your breathing so that you lose more fluid.
- Disease. During fever, vomiting and diarrhea, the body loses a lot of fluids. You may also need to increase your fluid intake in conditions such as urinary tract infections and kidney stones.
- Pregnancy and lactation. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need to drink more to keep from getting dehydrated especially when breastfeeding.
- Choice of beverages. Try to choose healthy beverages as part of a balanced diet. Soft drinks and energy drinks often contain a lot of sugar and calories, which can make you to gain weight. Always check the nutritional content of soft drinks, juices and other beverages before you buy them so you can make a healthier choice.
- Water: Contains no calories and no sugar. Water is the healthiest drink you can choose to quench your thirst. If you think plain water is boring, try sparkling water or to flavor it with lemon.
- Milk: Milk is a good source of calcium, which contributes to strong bones. Milk also contains a number of other important minerals and vitamins. Avoid chocolate milk and other flavored milk drinks as these often contain added sugar.
- Juice: Fruit juices contain a lot of vitamins that are good for health, but unlike whole fruits contain no fiber. Juice can also contain a lot of sugar, so choose fruit juice without added sugar.
- Tea and coffee: Tea and coffee; contain caffeine makes us more energetic and more alert. Caffeine is a diuretic, but how much effect it has is individual. Tea and coffee can be part of a balanced diet as long as you do not only drink caffeinated beverages.
- Soft Drinks: Soft drinks are high in calories but few nutrients, so try to avoid these drinks completely.
- Energy Drinks: Energy drinks often contain a lot of caffeine and sugar. The caffeine content is often at about 80mg per can, which is equivalent to a cup of coffee.
- Sports Drinks: Sports drinks can be useful if you are training hard and need energy quickly. But just like soft drinks contain a lot of calories, so choose water instead if you are trying to lose weight.