Find out all the information about human hydration you may need: from the importance and benefits of a healthy hydration and the consequences of dehydration, to the hydration needs according to age, special populations and special conditions, and the sources of water which contribute to fulfilling your needs.
Water plays many important roles within the body. Water is the major part of most of the body’s cells (except for fat cells) and it also cushions and lubricates the brain and the joints. It transports nutrients and carries waste away from the body cells. It also helps regulate body temperature by redistributing heat from active tissues to the skin and cooling the body through perspiration.
Dehydration occurs when the body loses more water than is taken in. It is often accompanied by disturbances in the body’s mineral salt or electrolyte balance – especially disturbances in the concentrations of sodium and potassium.
Many people talk about this sensation, but few people can say that they actually feel it. Many authors have studied the physiological regulation of thirst, fluid intake and body fluids (1-6). Here we show you the physiology of the thirst mechanism making the body looking for liquid.
Thirst tells us that we should drink, but we can choose not to do so. Likewise, we can drink when not at all thirsty, as when offered drinks in a social situation where it might cause offence to refuse.
Any moment is good to take hydration into account, but here we propose four particular times when hydration needs should be specially considered: when studying, when driving, when performing physical activity and at work.
Replacement of the body’s water and salt losses is essential to maintain appropriate hydration and a good health status. Replacement of water can be achieved through food and beverages. It is calculated that of the total water consumed, 20-30% typically comes from food and 70-80%
Reference values for total water intake as a guide to achieve appropriate hydration levels are given for different groups of ages as well as for special conditions such as pregnancy or lactation. Some hints and tips about healthy hydration are also offered.
There are different reasons for assessing hydration status, and the method of choice will depend on the population of interest, the level of precision required, on the facilities and expertise available, and on budgetary constraints.
Some age groups are especially sensitive to the effects of dehydration; some people also have special hydration needs due to particular conditions. This is the case for children and elderly people and for women during pregnancy and lactation.