With warmer weather on the horizon we should be even more mindful about keeping our body hydrated. Adequate liquid intake is not only important for our brain, mood, digestion, skin, kidneys, bladder and bowel, it is essential for heart health too.
So what should we be drinking and why? The New Zealand Heart Foundation is very pumped up on hydration. With good reason.
Our bodies need water for digesting and absorbing food, removing waste and controlling our internal temperature.
In simple terms, we become dehydrated when we don’t get enough water. Most water in our diet comes from the fluids we drink but around 20% comes from food. Fruit, vegetables, dairy products like yoghurt and meals like soups and smoothies. These are all foods that contribute water to our diet.
Feeling thirsty is one way we know that we need to drink more water, but it’s also a sign your body is already slightly dehydrated. Other early signs of dehydration include a dry or sticky mouth, dark-yellow and/or smelly urine, fatigue, headaches, or feeling light headed.
If dehydration is ongoing and becomes worse (moderate to severe dehydration with symptoms such as urinating less, weakness, feeling sleepy or muscle cramps), get advice from a medical professional.
The heart of the matter
Dehydration can affect many parts of our body including the heart. The heart constantly pumps blood through the body. When dehydration occurs the amount of blood circulating through your body is reduced. The heart beats faster, increasing both the heart rate and blood pressure.
How much fluid do we need each day?
An average-sized adult body contains around 35–45 litres of water, meaning that water makes up about 60 per cent of overall body weight.
As a guide, NZ Nutrition Foundation advises women need to drink around 8 cups (2.1 litres) of fluid each day and men 10 cups (2.6 litres). This represents water or other fluids such as milk or tea. Each person is different in their tastes and absorption so ‘listening’ to the body is important. If your doctor has advised a different daily fluid intake follow your Doctors instructions.