During the Covid-19 pandemic I have seen many good articles suggesting supplementation that may boost your immune system. Most people overlook the most important and common nutrient deficiency in Australia, water! Many people spend their dollars on supplements and do not realise they are dehydrated, or how much better they would feel if fully hydrated. Water makes up about 60% of our body weight (in an average adult, that’s 38-50 litres of water) and is required for numerous body processes. You can go about 8 weeks without food, but only days without water.
There are many reasons to stay hydrated. Some examples include; moistening air for easier breathing, removing waste and toxins, transporting nutrients to where they are needed, lubricating joints, empowering the body’s natural healing process.
Dehydration occurs if your body’s water content drops by as little as 2%. This will cause fatigue and early signs of dehydration which can include headaches, cravings, cramps and irritability. A drop of 10% can lead to significant digestive, cardiovascular, immune, and musculoskeletal health problems. Losses greater than 10% can cause death.
Like nutrition, water needs are always bio-individual. For example, more water is needed in hotter temperatures, during intense physical activity, when experiencing intense stress or blood sugar dysregulation. While the quantity of water intake should be tailored to each person, a good general guideline in litres is your bodyweight in kilograms divided by 30. An average, healthy 60 kg person would require 2L of water a day (60kg/30 = 2L). Warning: beware of dehydrating beverages such as tea, coffee, soft drinks and alcohol. For each of these beverages consumed, add 1.5 times their volume to your water intake. For example add 375ml of additional water for a 250ml cup of coffee (250ml x 1.5 = 375ml).
Good water consumption habits include:
- Adding a pinch of unrefined sea salt to your water as it contains minerals, including the electrolytes calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium that help you better absorb and utilise the water you drink. This is particularly important if you drink rainwater, which is similar distilled water.
- Sip, don’t chug, the body can only process a limited amount of water at a time. You will be able to absorb and utilise the water you drink more efficiently if you take small sips over a longer period of time.
- Drink most of your water away from meals. Sipping a little water with meals is fine but try to consume most of your water between meals to avoid diluting stomach acid and negatively impacting digestion.
- Drink clean water from a reliable source with a good filter system.
Optimal health requires daily consumption of sufficient water since the human body does not store water long-term. We’re not camels after all! Adequate hydration is necessary for basic human function. Before you grab a cup coffee to get you going, try hydrating first. Your body will thank you!
Need some more information on hydration? Have a read of these two articles from Jill: