September 25, 2013
Hydration was one of the themes at the global flagship nutrition event,
the IUNS 20th International Congress of Nutrition (ICN)
New insights and research presented in Granada reveal that:
- Most studies underestimate water consumption as part of the diet and a standardized fluid intake assessment questionnaire is needed, taking into account water intake from all sources of food and drink.
- It is often difficult to assess levels of dehydration, especially in the elderly, so there is a need for a simple way of definitively assessing whether or not a person is dehydrated.
- Exercise seems easier if individuals are well hydrated; loss of body water seems to increase the perception of effort during exercise.
- Official guidelines to drink ad libitum during exercise or to prevent fluid loss of >2% body mass, may be perceived as contradicting. A closer analysis suggests a complementary role.
Hydration and Health Symposium
sponsored by the
European Hydration Institute
(EHI) and chaired by EHI Director Dr
, from the Department of Nutrition and Bromatology of San Pablo-CEU University (
in the field of
, and especially on the
impact of inadequate hydration on health and performance.
The Symposium was designed to address the issue of adequate hydration in its many facets, starting from the importance of accurately recording intake of fluids in order to develop a clear understanding of levels of fluid intake across European countries, and then focusing on how inadequate intakes affect health and performance, drawing examples from the elderly and those who are physically active or who exercise recreationally. To discuss these topics, the EHI invited four distinguished academics:
Professor Lluis Serra-Majem,
University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (
Dr. Lee Hooper,
University of East Anglia (UK);
Professor Ronald J. Maughan
Dr. Jason Kai Wei Lee
from the DSO National Laboratories (
the methods to record liquid intake and the health consequences of insufficient intakes
, Prof. Serra-Majem
explained that although water intake comes from a variety of sources, with about 80% from plain water and beverages and a further 20% from food, there is currently no standardised questionnaire adequately capturing and evaluating water intake from multiple sources in the general population. Given that
water is an essential nutrient for life, Professor Serra-Majem recommended that it should be taken into
account in every nutrient assessment study
; however, most studies underestimate water collection as part of the diet, since it contributes no calories and no nutrients whereas alcohol intakes are almost always evaluated.
called for further studies to clarify the amount of beverage intake in the European population, using a standardized assessment questionnaire with a view to using the harmonised and integrated results to
, as inadequate intakes impact both our physical and mental well-being, leading to health issues such as urinary tract infections, constipation, renal problems and impaired cognitive function.
Elaborating on the impact of inadequate hydration,
Dr. Lee Hooper,
Senior Lecturer in Research Synthesis and Nutrition from the University of East Anglia, UK, discussed
the importance of hydration and the health impact of inadequate hydration in the elderly
, a topic of increasing socio-economic interest, as the emotional and financial burden associated with the care of preventable conditions
in older populations is on the rise. Dr. Hooper, who is currently carrying out research to help to identify the early stages of dehydration in older people (DRIE, Dehydration Recognition In our Elders Study
), highlighted the reasons why older people are at greater risk of dehydration, which include a decreased thirst sensation and reduced kidney function with age. Dr Hooper discussed the bodily effects of water-loss dehydration and how they relate to the possible signs of dehydration in the elderly people, and emphasised the problems in knowing definitively whether a person is dehydrated without a simple non-invasive test (the elusive gold standard test for dehydration).
The final theme of the Symposium addressed hydration with regard to physical activity and exercise, with two distinguished experts in the field approaching the topic from two different angles. World renowned expert
Ronald J. Maughan
, Professor of Sport and Exercise Nutrition,
(UK), in his presentation titled
The effects of hydration on physical activity and exercise performance and perception of effort
, shared data which highlight the fact that loss of about 2% of body mass induced by sweating would lead to a significant impairment of endurance exercise performance. Amongst recreational athletes, analysis of the available information suggests that starting exercise inadequately hydrated seems to increase the sensation of effort during exercise. This may be relevant when there is a need to promote greater levels of participation in physical activity, especially in the context of the alarming rates of overweight and obesity across
Discussing the same theme,
Dr. Jason Kai Wei Lee
from the Defence Medical & Environmental Research Institute, DSO National Laboratories,
, presented his research on
The guidelines for recreational exercisers in different environments
. Dr. Lee explained that a multitude of experimental studies following a pre-exercise hypohydration protocol support the conclusion that dehydration significantly increases hyperthermia and cardiovascular drift. At the same time, however, over drinking is linked to adverse consequences and this is why accurate recommendation for fluid intake must be individual-specific.
and the other speakers in concluding that as the science reveals the consequences of inadequate hydration on health and well-being, and as the benefits of encouraging adequate water intake are beyond doubt, more research is required to establish accurate intake guidelines across populations in
The European Hydration Institute stresses the importance and many health benefits of being properly hydrated and provides information to help people understand how best to do this in different situations on its website:
About the European Hydration Institute