The amount of water we all need to drink on a daily basis is often an average and will depend upon other physical factors such as exercise and temperature. Most of us are aware of the guidelines which state we should all drink eight glasses of water per day or at least 2 litres, but whether these targets are reached is down to the individual.
How much water we drink depends on:
· Physiological condition
· Temperature and humidity
· Physical activity levels
In terms of gender, men require more water than women because they generally have a higher energy expenditure and less body fat. There are differences between the two genders in the proportion of body weight made up of water. On average 60% of male body weight is water and in women, it is 55%. The European Food Safety Authority states that the recommended water intake for men is 2.5 litres per day and 2 litres per day for women. They suggest that up to 80% of daily water intake comes from drinks while food should provide the rest.
What drinks are best?
All drinks contribute to your hydration status except for those which contain alcohol. Some drinks, like milk and fruit juice, also contain essential vitamins and minerals which the body needs to stay healthy. However, drinks including fizzy and fruit juices are also high in sugar which can have an adverse impact on your health. For example, a high sugar intake has been linked to the development of type II diabetes and obesity.
Let’s look at some of the different types of drink and how they can affect our body:
· Water is the best choice of drink because it is free of calories and sugars. It keeps the body well hydrated and won’t damage your teeth.
· Milk is good for you because it provides lots of protein, B vitamins, calcium and iodine. However, it can be high in saturated fat, particularly if you choose full-fat versions.
· Fruit juice is packed full of vitamins, minerals and water but it also contains lots of sugar. Fruit juice is also quite acidic which is potentially harmful to your teeth. You should limit your daily intake to 150ml per day and this will count as one of your 5-a-day. If you drink more than
· Sugary/fizzy drinks should be limited because they provide very few nutrients and are high in sugar.
· Tea and coffee do count towards your daily water intake. They do contain caffeine which increases urine output but this doesn’t have a real impact on hydration status.
· Energy drinks are stimulants as they contain high levels of caffeine and sugar. Therefore, they are not suitable for children and their intake should be limited.
· Alcohol is a diuretic so it causes you to pee more often. For this reason, alcoholic drinks can lead to dehydration and this is usually the cause of a hangover. Alcoholic drinks are high in calories and if not consumed in moderation can lead to weight gain.
· Sports drinks are only necessary when training at high or intense levels because they contain water and electrolytes which the body loses through sweat and urine. If training at lower or moderate levels, water should be enough to replace the lost water and sodium.