“Water is defined as an essential nutrient because it is required in amounts that exceed the body’s ability to produce it. All biochemical reactions occur in water. It fills the spaces in and between cells and helps form structures of large molecules such as protein and glycogen. Water is also required for digestion, absorption, transportation, dissolving nutrients, elimination of waste products and thermoregulation” (regulation of body temperature) (Kleiner, 1999).
Up to 2 litres of Water is lost daily due to bodily functions such as perspiration, respiration, urination and defecation.
Be aware of diuretic substances in your diet such as caffeinated beverages, alcohol, high sugar and salty foods as these will increase water loss from the body.
Water requirements range from 8-10 cups per day depending on diet and activity levels.
As we age, we have a diminished sense of thirst and tend to drink less fluid, although water is still required. It is therefore important to ensure we drink an adequate amount of water, even in the absence of thirst.
Water can be consumed from drinking pure water as well as from eating certain foods. Depending on diet, up to 50% of your daily water intake can be derived from foods provided they are high in water content such as fruit, salad, soup and vegetables (i.e. iceberg lettuce and cucumber).
*Key tip – be aware if you are craving salty foods as this can be a signal from the body that you are dehydrated. Try drinking a glass of water before reaching for salty foods.
Key signs of mild to moderate dehydration: an increased sensation of pain, stiffness, headaches, lack of concentration, fatigue and skin problems.
How dehydration impacts your skin condition
The skin contains approximately 30% water. “Water intake, particularly in individuals with low initial water intake, can improve skin thickness and density and offsets trans-epidermal water loss (water lost through the skin surface)” (Popkin, Rosenberg & D’Anci, 2010). Hydration improves skin resiliency, elasticity and texture.
The water content in the skin contributes to important functions of the skin such as the development of a healthy skin barrier. The skin barrier guards the skin against microbial infections and infiltration of foreign substances which can cause skin flare-ups.
Water deficiency can also lead to impaired skin processes, which can then worsen skin disorders such as dermatitis, psoriasis, acne and rosacea (Rodrigues, Palma, Tavares Marques & Bujan Varela, 2015).
Keys to keeping hydrated
If you aren’t used to drinking water on a regular basis, start with four glasses of water a day. One glass on rising, one mid-morning, one mid-afternoon and one on retiring. This eliminates 4 out of 8 glasses per day. Once you establish this routine, start adding additional glasses of water throughout the day, for example before meals.
Keep water with you at all times. Keep a refillable water bottle with you at work, in your car, and to take with you when you go on walks etc. Get used to sipping on water as part of your daily routine. Convenience is key, otherwise, if it’s out of sight, it’s often out of mind!
If you don’t like the taste of water, there are several ways to make it more enticing. Add some fresh herbs like mint, or fresh fruit, or a very small amount of juice (just enough to add a hint of flavour).
Mix up your water variety and add in some natural sparkling mineral water.
Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables – this will assist in keeping your body hydrated as well.
The Soratinex Team
Popkin, B., Rosenberg, I., & D’Anci, K. (2010). Water, Hydration and Health. National Institute of Health, 68(8), 439–458. http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x
Kleiner, S. (1999). Water. Journal Of The American Dietetic Association, 99(2), 200-206. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0002-8223(99)00048-6
Rodrigues, L., Palma, L., Tavares Marques, L., & Bujan Varela, J. (2015). Dietary water affects human skin hydration and biomechanics. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, 4(411), 413. http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/ccid.s86822