Water – our lifeblood
Our body mainly consists of water. Every single cell contains it. With each breath we lose some water – in winter, we see our own breath, which is visible as water vapor in the cold. When we do sports, we sweat and lose liquids as a very natural form of cooling down to protect against overheating our organs. In all magazines, you will find different information on how much we should drink daily. From 2 liters to as much as possible, you can find everything. But how much water should we actually consume every day? And is there a “too much” of the good thing?
Why do we need water?
It has many essential functions in our body. We can not live without it. We need it as a cell building block, as a solvent, as a means of transporting nutrients and waste substances. It also serves as a lubricant and buffer and helps us to regulate our body temperature. Even a 1% deviation of the optimal amount of liquids in our body is regulated by the body’s own mechanisms within 24 hours. In adulthood, we have a good sense of how much we need to drink. For children and elders, the sensation of thirst is not (anymore) that reliable. Therefore, the risk of dehydration, so a shortage of water, is relatively high. The consequences of dehydration range from difficulties in concentrating and speaking to extreme tiredness increased eye pressure and palpitations.
Meanwhile, there are numerous studies that have dealt with the subject of the daily water supply. The results suggest that inadequate hydration may be associated with an increased likelihood of multiple diseases. These include an increased likelihood of falls and fractures among older people, lung complaints, myocardial infarction and disease, kidney dysfunction and stones, bladder and colon cancer, urinary tract infections, constipation, tooth decay as well as poor eyesight and immune deficiencies. For example, a 10-year with 48,000 participants study conducted by Harvard University has found that the likelihood of developing bladder cancer can be halved with high water intake. Another study of 20,000 participants found that people who drank more than five glasses of pure water a day were half as likely to die of heart disease than those who drank only two glasses a day.
How much water should we drink daily?
Based on such studies, among others, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended an intake of about 2 to 3 liters of fluid per day. However, as we also get fluids from the consumption of food, especially fruit and vegetables, the recommendation is to drink at least 1.5 to 2 liters of water a day, depending on physical activity and the outside temperature. Unsweetened drinks are the best choice. First and foremost, low-calorie, natural tap water.
In Germany, it is one of the most controlled foods. Mainly, it consists of ground, lake, and dam water. Regular studies and controls confirm better quality than pre-packaged, commercially available water bottles. Again and again, the topic “drug residues” appears in tap water. The fact is, to get an average daily dose of 1600 mg antibiotics, you would have to drink 70,000,000 liters of tap water in one day. By comparison, we drink about 45,000 liters in our entire lives. In addition, drinking tap water saves unnecessary towing, packaging waste, and especially plastic.
Not every liquid hydrates us!
Good to know: Alcoholic drinks deprive our bodies of liquids rather than supply. However, several studies also show that more than 2.5-3 liters of water a day can be too much. It can even put a strain on our bodies. Personally, I like to drink tap water. Pimped with a little bit of carbon dioxide and some fruits – just like in my photo. I also like to drink unsweetened tea, warm in winter and in summer like a chilled version with ice cubes. Especially after doing sports, non-alcoholic beer is considered a great thirst quencher because of containing a lot of minerals (electrolytes).
As a rule of thumb for healthy people: Listen to your body signal called “thirst” which tells you that you need replenishment. Stay hydrated! 🙂
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Here’s the scientific evidence and studies this blog post is based on
Chan, J./Knutsen, S. F./Blix, G. G./Lee, J. W./Fraser, G. E. 2002: Water, other fluids, and fatal coronary heart disease: the Adventist Health Study, in: American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 155, 2002, No. 9, pp. 827-833.
Goodman, A. B./Blanck, H. M./Sherry, B./Park, S./Nebeling, L./Yaroch, A. L. 2013: Behaviors and attitudes associated with low drinking water intake among US adults, Food Attitudes and Behaviors Survey, 2007, in: Preventing Chronic Disease, 2013.
Jéquier, E./Constant, F. 2010: Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration, in: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 64, 2010, No. 2, pp. 115-123.
Liu, Q./Liao, B./Tian, Y./Chen, Y./Luo, D./Lin, Y./Li, H./Wang, K. J. 2017: Total fluid consumption and risk of bladder cancer: a meta-analysis with updated data, in: Oncotarget, Vol. 8, 2017, No. 33, pp. 55467-55477.
Michaud, D. S./Spiegelman, D./Clinton, S. K./Rimm, E. B./Curhan, G. C./Willett, W. C./Giovannucci, E. L. 1999: Fluid intake and the risk of bladder cancer in men, in: The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 340, 1999, No. 18, pp. 1390-1397.
Vivanti, A. P. 2012: Origins for the estimation of water requirements in adults, in: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 66, 2012, No. 12, pp. 1282-1289.
Wang, H./Wang, N./Wang, B./Zhao, Q./Fang, H./Fu, C./Tang, C./Jiang, F./Zhou, Y./Chen, Y./Jiang, Q. 2016: Antibiotics in Drinking Water in Shanghai and Their Contribution to Antibiotic Exposure of School Children, in: Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 50, 2016, No. 5, pp. 2692-2699.