What is the recommended daily water intake?
As per the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, women should aim to drink 2.1 litres daily or approximately 8 glasses. For men, this jumps up to 2.6 litres or roughly 10 cups. These figures are based on the average weight of men and women, so if you’re underweight or overweight you should consider adjusting your fluid intake.
Additionally, those who engage in lots of physical activity, play sport, are on specific diets, pregnant, breastfeeding or ill should increase their water consumption. Accredited practicing dietician Natalie Von Bertouch tells New Idea Food that 25 millilitres per kilogram of bodyweight is a good rule of thumb.
Does the intake differ for men and women?
Because of the different makeup of our bodies, water consumption isn’t a one-size-fits all thing. Generally, men have faster metabolisms and higher levels of body fat. They also lose more water throughout the day via perspiration and need to drink more to replenish this as a result.
What about kids?
Similarly to adults, the water requirements for children are dependent on many factors including age and gender. The Better Health website lists the following guidelines:
0-6 months: 0.7 L/day (from breastmilk or formula)
7-12 months: 0.9L/day (from breastmilk, formula and other foods and drinks)
1-3 yr: 1.0 L/day (about 4 cups)
4-8 yr: 1.2 L/day (about 5 cups)
9-13 yr: 1.6 L/day (about 6 cups)
14-18 yr: 1.9 L/day (about 7-8 cups)
9-13 yr: 1.4 L/day (about 5-6 cups)
14-18 yr: 1.6 L/day (about 6 cups)
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What are the benefits?
Aside from the fact that we need it to survive, there are so many reasons to increase your intake of H2O. These include:
- Athletic performance
- As water helps fuel our muscles by providing electrolytes, having a drink before or during a workout will boost energy levels and reduce the chance of cramps.
- Weight loss
- Research has found that that drinking half a litre of water within 30-40 minutes can increase your metabolic rate by up to 30 per cent.
- Heart health
- In one study, people who drank more than five glasses of water daily were 41 per cent less likely to die from a heart attack over a six-year period than those who drank two glasses or less.
- As well as carrying oxygen to our cells, water also plays a role in the production of lymphatic fluid. This is responsible for circulating white blood cells and nutrients to the body’s tissues and helping to fight off disease.
- Water improves the appearance of skin by preventing dehydration and flushing out toxins and bacteria. Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkles.
- Water assists in the removal of toxins and waste from the body and encourages regular bowel movements by helping dissolve fats and soluble fibre.
- Brain power
Drinking eight to 10 cups of water per day has been shown to improve cognitive performance by up to 30 per cent.
What happens if you don’t drink enough water?
As the human body is made up of 50 to 75 per cent water, dehydration can lead to severe complications including kidney stones, urinary tract infections and even death. It only takes a few days without water for the body to start to shut down. However, there are plenty of ways to tell if you might be dehydrated before it gets to this point.
Firstly, your urine should be a pale yellow, straw-like colour. If it appears dark yellow or orange you should sip some water immediately.
Other symptoms of dehydration include:
- Brain fog
- Dry skin, eyes and mouth
- Muscle cramps
What counts as water?
Von Bertouch recommends that 20-30 per cent our daily water intake should come from food, while the remaining 70-80 per cent should come from drinks – but not necessarily just the clear kind.
“Fluids like coffee, tea and milk count. Soda water too,” she explains. “You can even flavour your water with fresh fruit like lemon and oranges if you want to mix it up.”
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