Water comprises approximately 60% of our body weight. This dominant and crucial component is responsible for dispersing nutrients throughout the body while expelling toxins, making it no surprise how critical hydration is to our overall health.
We lose approximately 2 litres of water daily from digestion, perspiration and respiration; therefore we need at least 2 litres or more of fluids daily. These vital fluids may come from beverages or from solid foods with a water-based component. Fluid losses can easily exceed 2 litres when the weather is hot, humid or windy, or when physical activity is higher than normal.
Levels of Dehydration
The result of dehydration can be life threatening and the degree of dehydration depends on how much body water is lost.
How do you know when you are dehydrated?
Mild Dehydration - (1-2% body weight loss):
When you are not physically active, thirst is usually a good indication. When you are active, your body loses fluid more quickly than the thirst signal can be triggered. There is a loss of the body’s natural energy. If you are 150lbs and lose 1.5 to 3lb of fluid you may feel lethargic, irritable, and have a headache.
Severe Dehydration – (9% or more body weight loss):
This is dangerous; there is a loss of the body’s vital electrolytes like sodium, potassium and chlorides. If you are 150 lbs and have lost 13.5lb of water, this could lead to heat stroke, possible emergency treatment and potentially life threatening.
In between these degrees of dehydration you may experience dizziness, muscle cramps, increased heart rate, and low blood pressure.
People at Risk
Infants and Children:
Children are at a higher risk than adults because they have a poor sense of thirst and are usually more physically active.
People aged 65 and older have a decreased ability to respond to temperature changes and should drink even if they do not feel thirsty.
Believe it or not men have a greater risk of dehydration because they sweat more than women.
About the Fluids we drink
While water remains the best choice for replenishing your body’s natural stores, other options such as unsweetened juices, sport drinks, and sugar-free drinks will also help to restore lost fluids. .
Alcohol and caffeinated beverages, highly sweetened beverages (pop, slushy fountain drinks) are not ideal choices as these cause the body to lose more fluid during their digestion.
Tips for Maintaining Proper Hydration
- Don’t wait until you feel thirsty, you will be dehydrated if you do so
- Drink at least 2 or more litres of fluid daily
- Drink water at each meal time
- Drink cool water, it is absorbed much more quickly than warm beverages and has a positive effect on cooling an overheated body
- Place water coolers in convenient locations for staff
- Start and end the day with a glass of water, your body loses water during sleep
For foodservice operations, during the summer months in particular, ensure that staff have access to adequate and appropriate fluids and that patrons have their water glasses replenished as required. This is particularly critical if patrons are enjoying your restaurant’s patio, or drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages. Bottled water sales continue to increase, and there is a seasonal trend that should allow you to sell more bottled water during the peak summer period. In fact, bottled water is the third fastest growing consumables category in North America and consumers are increasingly reaching for bottled water to quench their thirst rather than other beverages. Use this opportunity to keep not only your staff and patrons healthy, but your bottom line as well!