Water is the most important component of our daily nutritional intake. Without it performance suffers, health status deteriorates and death would follow relatively quickly.
Water provides a number of fundamental functions in the body:
- It is the medium in which all our cellular chemical processes take place.
- It enables the transport of nutrients and gasses around the blood.
- It provides lubrication to our joints and protection for our organs.
- It allows maintenance of a consistent body temperature (especially during exercise).
There are many issues that complicate the subject of hydration.
Sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol levels all influence fluid balance in some way. Even food contributes to overall cellular hydration levels.
Other factors may change the levels of water the body requires, such as environmental temperature, amount of lean muscle mass, and the frequency, intensity and type of exercise.
How much do we need?
It’s difficult to give guidance on how much water is required to ensure sufficient levels within the blood and cells to optimise function. All of the factors must be considered when determining hydration needs.
In general, individuals should be drinking two or three litres of water per day; although the heavier you are, the more water you will need.