Every day, water is lost through breathing, perspiration, urination, bowel movements, among others. For a body to function properly, one must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that are water based.
It is difficult to determine a specific level of water intake that would ensure adequate hydration and optimal health under all environmental conditions; however an adequate intake level has been set to prevent deleterious and primary acute effects of dehydration, which include metabolic and functional abnormalities.
The food we eat also provides a significant portion of body fluid (water) needs. For example, most cooked breakfast cereals like maize porridge and rice water are made of 90 per cent water while other semi solid foods like ‘banku’, ‘kenkey’ and ‘fufu’ have an average of 70 per cent moisture.
Most fresh vegetables such as cabbage, carrots and cucumber are made up of about 90 per cent water. About 80 per cent of the weight of fresh fruits (mango, orange and banana) is water. Meats and fish are also about 70 per cent rich in moisture.
In Ghana, the common soups i.e. palm nut, groundnut, okro and light soups have about only 20 per cent solids, with the rest being water. In addition to these are beverages such as Milo drink which are composed mostly of water.
Even caffeinated beverages such as coffee or tea are prepared with water, but these should not constitute a major portion of a daily total fluid intake.
Total water intake includes drinking water, water from beverages and water that form part of food. A total water intake of 3.7 litres per day (about seven to eight water sachets) and 2.7 litres per day (about five to six water sachets) is recommended for men and women, respectively.
Pregnant and lactating women require additional fluid intake and would therefore need a total water of about seven sachets a day.
It is recommended that on average 80 per cent of total water intake should come from drinking water and beverages while the remaining 20 per cent comes from food.
Water intake among the elderly
Most elderly people can easily be dehydrated or they may not be taking enough water. Food intake in general reduces among the aged population.
Some of the diseases of old age are actually worsened by the fact that water intake may not be adequate.
When made to take the recommended levels of fluid, they can become over-hydrated due to the weakened physiological movement of water through their system. In particular you should not force them to drink so much water all at a go.
Giving them small drinks per serving is a way to go. Also including soups and other soft or fluid diets will improve hydration.
Some people believe that taking some amount of water at dawn even before brushing their teeth does some good for the body. In actual fact, this does not perform the magic that is purported.
The water you need for the day must be spread throughout the day. Also, if you take in so much water at a go, your body will excrete some.
Besides, drinking water while your mouth has not been cleaned is not a good thing.
My take does not however mean that when one feels thirsty at dawn they should not drink water.