Drinking plain water must be part of a healthy diet, as it allows an optimal hydration and it has no additional nutrients or ingredients, so it does not provide any calories. Since human beings do not have water storage (as there is a calorie reserve as fat) the amount of ‘lost’ water must be replaced daily.
The balance between water consumption and loss must be maintained for proper body functioning. Water contributes to regulate body. In addition, it participates in the lubrication of knees and joints and is the basis for saliva and bile.
The body obtains water by means of the liquids and foods consumed. Besides plain water and other beverages, this liquid is found largely in vegetables and fruits. Some foods consist almost entirely of water (>90%), such as lettuce, celery, cucumber, cabbage, watermelon, broccoli or spinach.
The body loses water in the urine and feces, in breathing and through the skin. This loss increases at a higher temperature, higher altitude or lower environmental humidity. At an average temperature, body loses only 100 ml of water through skin perspiration, while it increases to 1,400 ml in a warm weather. In the same way, during prolonged exercise, up to 5 liters of water can be lost through perspiration. Food and beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol also increase water loss.
In the short term, mild dehydration causes headache, fatigue, low skin elasticity, higher urine concentration, among others. In the long term, it has been linked to a decrease in the function of the salivary glands, as well as an increase in the risk of obesity, kidney stones, colon and breast cancer.
The Mexican National Academy of Medicine recommends drinking 750 ml to 2 liters per day for children and adults. The general recommendation is 3 liters for men and 2.2 liters for women, approximately. Breastfeeding women should increase their water consumption by 600 to 700 ml due to milk production.
The simplest way to determine if water intake is adequate is to observe the color of the urine, which should be clear or pale yellow and have little odor. When the urine is concentrated, it has a dark yellow color and a strong odor; dehydration is evident. Water intake is controlled by thirst, so getting thirsty should be avoided by constant hydration.
Plain water must be the main source of hydration. We recommend the following to ensure good water consumption:
- Drink water throughout the day; carry a reusable bottle with fresh water
- Satiate your thirst with plain water
- Offer plain water in all meals
- Increase your consumption if you live in a warm weather
- Hydrate before, during and after exercise. During physical activity, take small sips
Adequate water consumption prevents noncommunicable diseases. On one hand, it prevents weight gain by replacing caloric beverages. For the same reason, it has the potential to improve glucose metabolism in people with diabetes. It is essential to maintain good hydration through plain water consumption throughout the day.
National Academy of Medicine (Mexico). Guías alimentarias y de actividad física en contexto del sobrepeso y obesidad en la población mexicana. Mexico; 2015
Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. The nutrition source: Healthy drinks. Disponible desde: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks/
Mahan LK, Escott-Stump S. Krause’s Food and Nutrition Therapy. Misuri: Elsevier. 12a Ed.
Naumann J, Biehler D, Lüty T, Sadaghiani C. Preventing diabetes – What is the potential of daily water intake and its mineral nutrients? 2017. DOI:10.20944/preprints201707.0012.v1
Wardlaw GM, Hampl JS. 2007. Perspectives in nutrition. Nueva York; McGraw Hill. 7a Ed.