Water, Water, Water
Water is the most important element in the human body. It is vital for many functions of our body from helping with metabolism and absorbing nutrients better, regulating body temperature, protecting our joints, to moisturizing the air in our lungs. Water comprises about 75% of muscle, 90% of brain, and 80% of blood. As a result, the impact of hydration or especially dehydration on our bodies is most felt especially when one exercises.
Some of the many benefits of taking in enough water on a daily basis stand out.
· Weight loss: Our body needs the chemicals of hydrogen and oxygen (H²0) to process and burn fat. Without enough water to go around, this process gets put on the back burner. It also decreases hunger and helps you feel full.
· Better productivity: With your brain being mostly water, it is obvious that it needs good hydration to help with being more alert and better concentration.
· Improved exercise workout: Water regulates your body temperature, keeps your joints lubricated, fuels your muscles, and makes you feel more energetic.
· Natural remedy: Helps relieve headaches, constipation, and muscle cramps.
So how do you know that you are consuming enough water? Simple signs/symptoms that you can watch for are urine color, with only your first voids in the morning having a darker color to it. Urine should generally be pale yellow to clear as the day progresses as you continue to hydrate yourself. Another one is dry skin, especially due to these low humidity winter months which pulls out even more moisture from your skin. Thirst is our body's internal call for more water. Physiologically, by the time you sense thirst, you are already well into dehydration. Other signs of dehydration can be tiredness, muscle cramps, irregular blood pressure, and headaches.
The most common approach for dehydration is to try to drink approximately 8 cups of water per day. This water should be consumed all day long. Remember that both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, meaning it causes the body to lose fluid instead of retain it. Rule of thumb is usually for every cup of a caffeinated or alcoholic beverage, you should drink 2 cups
of water to replenish. During exercise, a person should add approximately 1-3 more cups of water. Depending on the amount of sweat, intensity, and duration of your workout, a sports drink may be necessary. Please note that for the average exerciser, an hour or less in duration and heading home afterward for a meal, probably does not need the added calories of a sports drink and water will be just fine.
Please note that if you have been put on a water/fluid restriction by your physician (due to heart failure or other medical condition) it is vital for you to consume at least that amount. Lastly, it is important to know that there is also a danger to drinking too much water as seen in some reported deaths during marathons and triathlons. Excessive amounts of water in short periods of time can dilute your electrolytes thus causing dangerous irregular heart rhythms.
Annie Mossak-Johnson MS, EPC