Understanding Your Beverage Choices and Their Health Impacts
When it comes to choosing refreshing and hydrating beverages, you have a wide array of options. These include tea, coffee, fruit squash, sugary drinks, or diet carbonated beverages. However, it is crucial to bear in mind that the health effects of the non-sugar sweetener aspartame have undergone comprehensive evaluation by reputable organisations such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). It is important to moderate your consumption of these beverages as excessive intake may lead to unfavourable health outcomes. Ultimately, water remains the safest and most reliable choice for hydration.
The Essential Role of Water in Human Body Functions
Water is essential for life and is involved in all functions of the human body1. Without water, humans can only survive for days2. Did you know that water is the largest single constituent of the human body, making up approximately 60% of the adult and 75% of children's bodies, respectively3? Therefore, we need to pay attention to what we drink throughout the day to ensure that we are meeting our daily water needs, as not doing so may have negative health effects4.
Decoding the Daily Water Intake: How Much Should You Really Drink?
Public confusion about how much plain water to drink continues to the present day10. Several organisations, such as World Health Organisation (WHO) and the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK have carried extensive research on how much water you should drink a day. For years, a 1945 US Food and Nutrition Board report was used as a rule of thumb for human water consumption. Known as the “8 × 8” rule, it stated that an adult should drink eight 8-oz glasses of water a day (64 oz). Despite more recent studies showing that it is insufficient, the recommendation of drinking eight 8-oz glasses of water a day continues to be recommended even today8. Nonetheless, it is difficult to reach these values; the reason is quite simple, exact value of daily water consumption is associated with many factors, such as age, weight, temperature, and exercise, and your diet5. Take, for instance, the minimum daily water intake necessary for fluid replenishment in a human weighing 70 kg residing in a temperate region, which corresponds to 3 litres per day or 42.9 millilitres per kilogram. Conversely, the minimal water needs for a person of the same weight residing in a tropical area range from 4.1 to 6 litres per day, or 58.6 to 85.7 millilitres per kilogram6. Therefore, human water requirements should not be based on a “minimal” intake, as this might eventually lead to a deficit and possible adverse performance and health consequences7. Some water can also be taken into the body through foods you eat. With a healthy and well-balanced diet, about 20% of water consumption is from food. To determine your daily water intake, a healthy adult requires around 35 ml of water each day per kilogram of body weight.
The Cognitive and Health Consequences of Dehydration
Water, or its lack of (dehydration), can influence cognition2. Mild levels of dehydration can produce disruptions in mood and cognitive functioning11. Underhydration has been linked to an increased risk of major health issues such as chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and obesity12. So, when it comes to staying properly hydrated, the question of how much water to drink per hour frequently arises? Maintaining fluid balance is essential for the human body, and it is important to drink water when needed. Nonetheless, it is important to highlight that the hydration we receive is not solely from water; unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and juices also play a significant role in maintaining our hydration levels. Furthermore, an evaluation carried out by the US Army on the suggested water intake per hour, considering varying heat categories, has provided some interesting insights. The conclusion drawn from their study is that one's liquid intake should not surpass 1.03 litres within an hour or exceed 11.35 litres over the course of a day14.
Navigating Hydration Needs in Different Weather Conditions
There has been some uncertainty surrounding how much water you should drink in hot weather. It is crucial to maintain proper hydration when confronted with sweltering temperatures. The body undergoes thermal stress due to the heat, making it essential to carefully manage its water levels. By understanding the importance of sufficient water intake, you can guarantee that your body stays well-hydrated while combating the impacts of high temperatures15.
The Effects of Drinking the Recommended 2 Litres of Water Daily
This often depends on how you drink this water. If you realise that you have yet to drink the requisite 2 litres and drink a large quantity within a short time, this will likely mean the water you drink will not reach the extracellular space, where it is needed, and as such has no real effect on hydration; all it does is dilute the urine12.
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1. Liska, D., Mah, E., Brisbois, T., Barrios, P. L., Baker, L. B., & Spriet, L. L. (2019). Narrative review of hydration and selected health outcomes in the general population. Nutrients, 11(1), 70.
2. Popkin, B. M., D'Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition reviews, 68(8), 439-458.
3. Liska, D., Mah, E., Brisbois, T., Barrios, P. L., Baker, L. B., & Spriet, L. L. (2019). Narrative review of hydration and selected health outcomes in the general population. Nutrients, 11(1), 70.
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5. Stookey, J. D., & Kavouras, S. A. (2020). Water researchers do not have a strategic plan for gathering evidence to inform water intake recommendations to prevent chronic disease. Nutrients, 12(11), 3359.
6. Burlingame, G. (2006). How Much Water Should We Drink? Opflow, 32(2), 8-9.
7. Dai, B., Chen, R. C., & Ding, Y. Y. (2019). A practical approach for estimating human daily water intake. International Journal of Embedded Systems, 11(2), 210-219.
8. Sawka, M. N., Cheuvront, S. N., & Carter, R. (2005). Human water needs. Nutrition reviews, 63(suppl_1), S30-S39.
9. Dai, B., Chen, R. C., & Ding, Y. Y. (2019). A practical approach for estimating human daily water intake. International Journal of Embedded Systems, 11(2), 210-219.
10. Tarulli, K., Bales, D., & Wallinga, C. (2014). How much water should you drink?
11. Popkin, B. M., D'Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition reviews, 68(8), 439-458.
12. Rodger, A., & Papies, E. K. (2022). “I don't just drink water for the sake of it”: Understanding the influence of value, reward, self-identity, and early life on water drinking behaviour. Food Quality and Preference, 99, 104576.
13. Tsindos, S. (2012). What drove us to drink 2 litres of water a day?
14. World Health Organization. (2005). Nutrients in drinking water (No. WHO/SDE/WSH/05.09). World Health Organization.
15. Kurdak, S. S., Shirreffs, S. M., Maughan, R. J., Ozgünen, K. T., Zeren, C., Korkmaz, S. E. L. C. E. N., ... & Dvorak, J. (2010). Hydration and sweating responses to hot‐weather football competition. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 20, 133-139.