Dubai: You often hear that each person requires eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day.
The 8x8 rule, however, has no medical basis and is simply a theory that was published by one research organisation in 1945.
The report claimed that an average person needs 1ml of water per calorie of food they consume.
How true is this?
According to Tanya van Aswegen, Clinical Dietitian at Valiant Clinic Dubai, the amount of water intake needed a day depends on a person’s age, gender and activity level.
2.2L for women, 2.8L for men
“In general, having between 2.2 litres of water for women and 2.8 litres for men would be sufficient,” said Aswegen.
Water makes up on average 60 per cent of body weight in men and 50-55 per cent in women since they have a higher percentage of body fat.
2.2litresis the recommended quantity of water that women should drink
The water intake does not increase during Ramadan. Fluid is still lost gradually throughout the day as urine, through the skin and when breathing and sweating, and our bodies gradually adapt during Ramadan so that more water is conserved, ready for the next fast.
Around 20 per cent of our fluid intake comes from the food that we eat, however the majority is dependent on additional fluid intake (80 per cent) from water, teas, coffee, milk and other fluids.
What happens during Ramadan?
During Ramadan, the same rule applies, however, higher water intake could be needed depending on activity levels and eating habits.
“Perhaps you would be drinking more soups, laban, milk, and herbal teas, which will contribute to your total fluid needs for the day…The challenge during Ramadan is making sure you get the sufficient amount of fluid you need during a shorter period in the day,” explained Aswegen.
While fluid helps you stay healthy and energised, it also controls body temperature, aids digestion, carries nutrients around your body, cushions organs and joints, gets rid of waste and keeps your bowels regular, she said.
Naturally, your body loses water by sweating, breathing and getting rid of waste.
Perhaps you would be drinking more soups, laban, milk, and herbal teas, which will contribute to your total fluid needs for the day… The challenge during Ramadan is making sure you get the sufficient amount of fluid you need during a shorter period in the day.
“The body cannot store water so the kidneys conserve as much water as possible by reducing the amount lost in urine. This is a normal physiological response for the body, during Ramadan or not,” explained Aswegen.
Dr Nacrin Uddin, Consultant Family Medicine at Medcare Medical Centre says water is the best fluid to maintain hydration, as other Ramadan drinks might contain a lot of sugar and can result in you consuming extra calories. Soft drinks might cause excessive abdominal gases, bloating and impair digestion.
“It is advisable not to drink large quantities of water all at once or a lot during a meal and to replace sweetened juices with fresh ones,” said Dr Uddin.
Eating fluid-rich foods, such as fruit, vegetables, soups and stews, is crucial to replace fluids lost during fasting and to ensure starting the next day of fasting well hydrated.
“The water intake does not increase during Ramadan. Fluid is still lost gradually throughout the day as urine, through the skin and when breathing and sweating, and our bodies gradually adapt during Ramadan so that more water is conserved, ready for the next fast,” she said.
During Iftar, it is important to drink plenty of fluids, and consume fluid-rich foods, such as fruit, vegetables and soups. “The predawn meal, suhoor, provides fluids and energy for the day of fasting ahead so it is important that enough fluids have been taken in then,” she said.
Are you dehydrated?
If your body is in desperate need of water, you can watch out for specific indications that can clearly tell you if you are in fact dehydrated.
The signs and symptoms of mild dehydration include thirst, dry lips and mouth, flushed skin, tiredness, irritability, headache, dizziness, fainting, low blood pressure, and dark, strong smelling urine.
“A good tip to know if you are getting enough fluid is through the colour of your urine. If it is light yellow and clear it usually means that you are getting enough to drink. However, dark yellow, strong smelling urine is a sign of dehydration,” said Aswegen.
Hot and humid weather and certain health conditions can impact a person’s water needs.
“Fluid restrictions would be needed for someone with kidney disease for example, or additional fluid may be needed in pregnancy or during breastfeeding,” said Aswegen.
Is water intake related to weight?
The answer is No.
Dr Uddin says there are many different opinions on how much water is needed on a daily basis — but in average, every person needs 30ml of water per each kilogram daily.
“In case there is fever, acute illness, diarrhoea, vomiting, or heavy exercise the requirement is more,” she explained. While water requirement is not based on weight calculation on a daily basis, it is calculated per kilogram in a hospital setting, especially in the case of children. “These requirements are based on a sick individual … we should all aim to drink 1.2-2 litres a day,” she confirmed.
■ Older adults/elderly: may have a weaker sense of thirst and should be encouraged to drink regularly
■ Athletes: need more water as they lose a lot of fluid through sweating