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Do Spaniards know how to stay hydrated?

Wiki Spanish Food editorial team

The answer seems to be "no",according to results from a poll by the Beer and Health Information Centre entitled"Spaniards' hydration habits in summer",which revealed that just 24% of people were aware that the recommended daily liquid intake  is 2 liters for women and 2.5 liters for men.

Sufficient hydration is vital for our bodies to function optimally, both physically and mentally, and with the arrival of summer it's important to drink even more liquids than usual to avoid becoming dehydrated.

It's extremely important to drink water to avoid dehydration.Water is the primary component of the cells that make up our bodies, and all human structures and tissue contain water; it's the universal solvent.It has a number of functions which at first might go unnoticed. For example, it's crucial to cellular metabolism, it regulates body temperature and blood pressure, and it's necessary for the proper lubrication of joints and other tissues. Moreover,60% of the human body is water, with the result that it's a vital element for surviving and functioning correctly.

According to the "Hydration and beer” and "Beer, hydration and the elderly" manuals, both by the Spanish Society of Dietetics and Food Science (SEDCA), in cooperation with the Hispanic Foundation for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Diseases (FHOEMO), there are several risk groups, such as the elderly, athletes, and women who are pregnant or nursing, who must be especially careful about staying hydrated as their bodies need more fluids. With respect to the results obtained in the aforementioned survey, barely 31.5% of people over 65 are aware that they need to consume more liquids, which is worrying since they are a risk group.

Drinking water should be the main method for meeting our body's hydration needs, although it's worth noting that it can be supplemented with other products, such as fruit in summer, especially watermelon, melon and papaya, due to their high water content; cucumber, tomato and zucchini; and other beverages such as gazpacho, tea, infusions, and juice as well as beer which, due to its composition, is a healthy alternative for staying hydrated.

Many experts have also highlighted the importance of drinking the recommended amount regardless of whether you are thirsty or not.The reason for this is quite simple: a feeling of thirst means that an imbalance has already occurred, which reduces the body's performance and strength.In total, 51.5% of Spaniards drink only when they are thirsty, compared with 48.2% who drink constantly. They tend to choose water, which is the beverage of choice in summer for 98% of Spaniards, although 53.1% prefer to drink beer when temperatures rise in summer.

How does beer help with hydration?

Both traditional and alcohol-free beer is made through fermentation of natural ingredients (water, malted barley and hops), which provide it with both nutrients and micronutrients.It is 92% water, which is the main reason it's an ideal drink to beat the heat, provided that it is consumed in moderation and responsibly, i.e. 2 or 3 beers per day for men and 1 or 2 for women.

Beer is a source of silicon, potassium, phosphorous, calcium and magnesium and is high in B vitamins. It also contains carbohydrates such as maltodextrin, which reduces the speed of gastric emptying and is metabolized slowly, releasing glucose, which moves gradually into the bloodstream.

Different habits

As for the way Spaniards stay hydrated, heat plays a major role in habits, as people in northern Spain generally drink less than 1.5 liters a day, while those in central Spain and on the east coast drink more than 2 liters per day.

Advice for healthy hydration

Barely 65.7% of Spaniards admit to making a greater effort to stay hydrated in summer, due to the adverse effects of the heat, compared with winter.

A total of 80.7% say they are aware of the negative effects of dehydration, while barely 24% know the importance of drinking more than 2 liters per day.

According to the survey, around 15.5% of Spaniards have suffered from heat stroke due to dehydration.

To avoid this situation, the Spanish Society of Dietetics and Food Science recommends "drinking sufficient water throughout the day, with the possibility of drinking other beverages such as traditional beer, always in moderation, as well as alcohol-free beer". It also recommends 8 simple steps to stay hydrated:

1. Drink 30-35 ml of water per day per kg of body weight

2. Drink water frequently, even when you're not thirsty

3. Drink liquids gradually,and in greater quantities in the morning and mid-afternoon

4. Increase daily intake of fruit, vegetables and salad

5. Good hydration can be achieved by drinking other beverages (juice, infusions, dairy products, alcohol-free beer and traditional beer in moderation)

6. The ideal drink temperature is between 11º and 14ºC

7. Avoid continuous sun exposure, especially between 12 and 5 pm.

8. Increase liquid intake before and after exercising

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