Aqua Vitae; GET DRINKING TO YOUR HEALTH

Article excerpt

Byline: LISA SALMON

WITH summer holidays on the horizon, many Brits will be looking forward to the gourmet delights on offer in foreign climates, but how many will remember to drink enough? Humans can survive for several weeks without food, but for only a few days without water. Water is vital to us - yet few people give any priority to how much they drink, say experts.

Although our bodies are made up of around 70% water and hydration is vital for optimum health, research suggests that the majority of people don't drink enough.

The World Health Organisation recommends a daily fluid intake from drinks and food of 2.2 litres for women and 2.9 litres for men (between around three and four pints).

That may sound a lot, but about 20% comes from the food we eat, and the remainder doesn't have to come from drinking tap water alone. Fluid regulates body temperature and makes up around 80% of blood and 75% of the brain.

If we get dehydrated, even by a small amount, it can lead to a multitude of problems ranging from fatigue, poor concentration, headaches and dry skin, to kidney problems and some cancers.

While hydration is clearly vital, there's a marked lack of research on the subject. However, what research there is was highlighted at a Hydration for Health (H4H) scientific meeting for health experts and scientists in Evian, France last week.

Central to the discussions were the results of a recent study in which healthy volunteers were dehydrated by a small amount (around 1.5%) to help determine the impact of dehydration on their mood, cognitive performance and well-being.

The study found that the volunteers suffered from fatigue and reported an increase in anxiety levels, and all found it more difficult to concentrate or recall information.

Professor Ivan Tack, a kidney specialist from University Hospital, Toulouse, France, acknowledges there's a lack of clear scientific knowledge regarding the benefits of drinking water, and says: "That's the starting point for many of us in this field - we want to add some science regarding how much we should drink, and ask if it's reasonable to rely on thirst. …