The article describes the functions and importance of the nutrient water for the proper functioning of the human body as well as providing practical guidance for proper hydration.
Why it is important to drink
- promotes the elimination of waste substances from the body as it increases the excretion of urine and sweat.
- It favours muscle development in people who practice physical activity because: a) 75% of the muscle mass is water; b) water antagonises the catabolic effects of cortisol. If physical activity is prolonged, the adrenal glands increase cortisol production. Cortisol is a hormone that has a catabolic effect on muscle tissue, i.e. it tends to “break it down” to produce energy. Water counteracts this catabolic activity.
- It has an “aesthetic” effect as water gives shape and stiffness to the tissues.
- It allows the surfaces of: nose, eyes, ears to be kept adequately moist.
- It favours an adequate lubrication of the joints through the production of synovial fluid.
What to drink
Sweetened drinks should be limited or avoided. They raise blood sugar levels abruptly, cause a reduction in the sense of hunger (only momentary), which, especially in children, promotes a poor diet. The child consumes sugary drinks during the meal (or immediately before), this causes a rapid rise in blood glucose, which causes a feeling of satiety. The child stops eating but the feeling of hunger returns within a few hours (before three hours after the end of the meal). The child generally reacts to the recurrence of hunger by consuming “junk food” (e.g. snacks, biscuits) which encourages overweight and obesity. Scientific studies have found that the consumption of sugary drinks is associated with an increase in body weight.
The consumption of a glass of lukewarm water in the morning promotes intestinal peristalsis, therefore evacuation (fighting constipation).
Consumption of cold water during meals can cause digestive problems during meals, pain and stomach cramps away from meals. It is good practice, therefore, to consume water at room temperature even in summer.
How much water to drink per day
The quantity of water to be consumed per day is between 1200 ml (6 water glasses) and 2000 ml (10 water glasses). The average consumption of 1500 – 1600 ml can be obtained by consuming: one glass of water at breakfast, two glasses of water at lunch, two glasses of water at dinner and half a liter of water away from meals.
The consumption of water, indicated in the previous point, increases:
if you are exercising. Physical activity generates heat, to prevent an excessive rise in body temperature the body increases the excretion of sweat. Sweat, by evaporating, subtracts heat from the overheated body (the evaporation of one gram of sweat from the surface of the skin subtracts 0.6 calories from the body). At high altitude. At altitudes above 2500 meters increase the excretion of urine and the respiratory frequency with a consequent increase in water loss by the body (the exhaled water contains water vapor, normally, every day, between 250 ml and 350 ml of water are eliminated through this route). On all occasions when there is an increase in sweating, in addition to physical activity: febrile states and particularly hot climates. In the case of water loss due to diarrhoea or vomiting. During pregnancy and breastfeeding. For pregnant women a daily water consumption of 2100 ml per day is indicated, for those who breastfeed a consumption of 3100 ml per day.