Hydration over 50 vital for good health - Blog

Hydration over 50 vital for good health

By the time we reach 50 years old, the water composition in our bodies has already started its downward slide from 80% to just 50% and we may be experiencing the body’s warning signs of dehydration. Recent research has highlighted the dangers associated with inadequate water intake and flagged the need for older adults to drink more water.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration which in turn can lead to muscle pain, heat exhaustion and fatigue and it can even contribute to high blood pressure and kidney failure. Although the changes in our body composition are a natural part of the biological aging process many people are still unaware of the damage dehydration can do to our bodies.

The importance of staying hydrated as we get older is highlighted by Dr Arnaldo Liechtenstein, a Physician, General Practitioner and Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of São Paulo.

He always asks his fourth-year students the following question:

"What are the causes of mental confusion in the elderly?"

Common answers are “tumours in the head” or “early symptoms of Alzheimer’s”, but most students are surprised when he lists the three most common causes of mental confusion as:

1. Uncontrolled diabetes

2. Urinary infection

3. Dehydration

The science behind it indicates the decline begins 10 or 15 years before we see the level of impairment we associate with the elderly. We need to start changing our behaviour in our fifties to ensure healthy bodily functioning as we grow older.

“Although people over 50 look healthy, the performance of reactions and chemical functions can damage their entire body.” , Dr. Liechtenstein says.

If body water composition gets too low, brain cells won’t function properly causing mental confusion. Even just a 2% decrease in water levels to the brain can result in short term memory loss while prolonged dehydration causes brain cells to shrink in size, causing memory issues too.

Your brain cannot store water and needs to take water from the body reserve; a reserve that is constantly depleted throughout the day through perspiration, urination, and other bodily functions. If you no longer experience your body’s signals to drink water – an urge that decrease as we age – it is vitally important to replenish your water reserves by drinking water regularly throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. This will enable you to think faster and focus clearly when you are functioning fully hydrated!

Helping with Hydration

If you are over 50 and you notice that you are feeling irritable, breathless, or lack attention, ask yourself when you had a glass of water last.

Dr. Liechtenstein advises you to act to prevent dehydration by “getting into the habit of drinking liquids". Liquids include water, juices, teas, coconut water, milk, soups, and water-rich fruits, such as watermelon, melon, peaches and pineapple; Orange and tangerine also work.”

If you struggle to remember to drink water you could also set an alarm at regular intervals to remind yourself, or get a water bottle with time markings to show you how much you should have been drinking at set times every day.

Another great way to ensure adequate hydration is by getting a Just Water Water Cooler for your home that will act as a constant reminder to fill up your glass or bottle with fresh, filtered, great tasting water throughout the day.