Hydration Matters

Hydration Matters

Contributed by Eve Persak, Nutrition Advisor, MS RD CNSC CSSD

How important is water to the body? To put it simply – it is absolutely essential. Fluids make up the majority of our internal environment. It’s in the backdrop of all the action that’s happening underneath - and even within! - the skin.  

Water makes up approximately:

  • 50 to 75 per cent of the body
  • 55 per cent of the blood
  • 70 per cent of living muscle tissue
  • 70 to 75 per cent of the brain and heart  
  • 80 to 85 per cent of the lungs

Percentages aside, when it comes to actual body functions, hydration is vital for nearly every physiological and biochemical process. When our body lacks water, basic body functions – from digestion and metabolism, to circulation and respiration - become inefficient, or in extreme cases, screech to a halt. 

So, how much fluid must we consume each day to support our body’s needs? Most international health organisations suggest an average of two litres for adults.  However, in reality, the ideal volume varies considerably from person to person. Men often require more than women.  Increased body size or physical activity increases the need for water as well. Body composition, underlying diseases, certain medications and even age must be considered. 

The conditions outside the body can also drastically effect our fluid requirements. In this respect, Singaporeans require even more than many other peoples worldwide. And this applies whether they’re indoor most of the time, or always running out and about.


Here in Singapore, it’s safe to say that the thermometer reading will register as ‘hot’ on any given day. When the mercury rises, our inbuilt perspiration mechanism kicks in to cool down our body. We produce sweat, which when evaporated, dials down our internal thermostat and maintains our core body temperature in a safe range.

However, in Singapore – and in other tropical locales – we’re not just up against heat, but humidity. When the ambient air is moist and any noticeable breeze is few and far between, sweat is less able to evaporate. As such, our cooling system is less efficient – the body produces more sweat but doesn’t cool down much. Instead of vapourising, the sweat accumulates – which we all experience when our clothes stick to our bodies and droplets fall from our brow from a short walk across the street. So, when it’s hot and humid – we produce even more sweat and lose even more body fluid – a double whammy. 


What’s more, Singaporeans face added fluid management challenges when they step indoors for a respite from the heat. The air conditioning is often ramped up to the max in offices, shopping centres, supermarkets, restaurants and food courts. This is done not just for the comfort of the people, but sometimes to preserve the perishables and technological products therein. While it’s a welcome change from the sweltering heat outside, air conditioning has a drying effect on the indoor environment. Our lungs and skin lose moisture to the surrounding atmosphere resulting in noticeably parched skin and lips, and perhaps even increased thirst. 

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

The heat and humidity outdoors coupled with the strong air conditioning indoors greatly increases the daily hydration needs for Singaporeans.

So, how can you ensure that you meet your daily fluid needs?

Start your day with a tall glass of water. Whenever you’re out, keep a reusable bottle or thermos handy. Throughout the day, sip on – and refill! – clear, sweetener-, alcohol- and caffeine-free fluids. Some of our favourites include purified water, sparkling water, fresh young coconut water, fresh teas such as ginger, lemongrass or peppermint, and organic, fair trade herbal infusions.