Article, Hydration

The Power of Hydration

Maintaining Water Balance for Optimal Health
Let ‘s talk water. Did you know that, depending on age and gender, the body consists between 50 and 75% of water? It is essential for all bodily functions, as it is the main component of cells, tissues, and organs, and plays a vital role in macronutrient hydrolysis and overall cell function regulation. However, most children (60 ± 24%) fail to meet the recommended water intake (through drinking liquids + water contained in food).

These water rich foods might help you stay hydrated:
90-99% water content: Strawberries, watermelon, lettuce, cabbage, celery, spinach
80-89% water content: Apples, grapes, oranges, carrots, broccoli (cooked), pears, pineapple
70-79% water content: Bananas, avocados, potatoes (baked)

Depending on the severity, dehydration (the process of losing body water), which can lead to hypohydration (the condition of body water deficit) can lead to a number of unwanted consequences, like:
impaired cognitive function and motor control,
difficulties in concentration,
sleepiness and many more.

So how do you spot dehydration?
Look out for the following:
dry mouth and nose,
longitudinal “lines” on the tongue,
speech incoherence,
extremity weakness,
dry armpits,
sunken eyes,
urine color – Although not the most valid technique, this might be a more practical tool to monitor your (de/hypo)hydration. The color should ideally be ‘very pale yellow’, ‘pale yellow’ or ‘straw colored’.

Depending on the severity of the ongoing dehydration the symptoms might differ.

But how do you prevent that from happening?
First, know the water recommendations* for your and your childrens’ specific age and gender group and make sure to follow it:
4 to 8 years of age (m/f): 1,600 mL/day,
9 to 13 years of age (f): 1,900 mL/day,
9 to 13 years of age (m): 2,100 mL/day,
> 14 years of age: 2.0L/day (f) and 2.5L/day (m).
(*This list shows the European Food Safety Authority recommendations. Depending on the country the dietary recommendations for water intake might vary.)

Second, know which factors can influence water requirements, and adjust your intake accordingly:
The main factors are physical activity, heat exposure and other environmental conditions, dietary factors and some pathophysiological states (e.g. Diabetes mellitus or Diarrhea). So during these kinds of situations you have an elevated water loss, which must be replaced through increased water intake. Sweat production, as a reaction to physical activity or heat, can exceed 1.5L/h. Try to drink approximately 2mL for every kg of your body weight every 15 to 20 minutes while exercising. During periods of heat you might have to ingest 50 to 100% more than that (Example: A person who weighs 75kg, should consume 150mL every 15 to 20 minutes when exercising and up to 300 mL in hotter environments).
So be mindful and listen to your body, but also keep an eye on the hydration of the children in your environment, especially during times of heat and exercise. Moreover, consider that every individual has different requirements, depending on their body and the factors listed above, so try to find the perfect water intake for yourself.  But in the end the message is simple: Stay Hydrated!

Authors: Joshua Thaller, Nicole Stiegeler


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