The amount of fluid in our body affects the way our cells function – meaning that dehydration can interfere with healthy ageing. According to nutrition expert Linda Drummond, we don’t feel thirsty until we’ve lost about 1% of our body weight in water. If dehydration continues, we experience greater thirst, discomfort and loss of appetite. This is followed by nausea, lack of concentration and an inability to regulate excess temperature.
“At around 8% loss,” she adds, “dizziness, laboured breathing and weakness ensue. Further dehydration leads to muscle spasms, delirium, decreased blood volume and failing renal function, which can lead to death.”
If you struggle to drink the amount of water you need daily, fill a jug of water with lemon/strawberries/cucumber/mint and keep it on your desk. The added flavour will make it easier to achieve your quota. Click here to discover easy ways to stay hydrated through the day.
The elderly are at higher risk of dehydration than younger adults.
Many factors can increase fluid loss, including:
• Low humidity;
• High altitude;
• High sodium intake;
• Consumption of alcohol, caffeine and sugar;
• Diarrhoea; and
Bowel management is of particular concern, as increasing dietary fibre increases our need for fluids.
How to stay hydrated
According to Drummond, you need 30ml to 35ml of fluid per kilogram of body weight, per day, adjusted for ambient temperature and lifestyle factors such exercise and consumption of alcohol, caffeine and sugar.
Remember, if you are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Carry a water bottle and take regular sips throughout the day. Don’t wait for your body to remind you.