The Importance of Water – Staying Hydrated

9951562_sI know, you’ve heard it before. You must drink lots of water to maintain optimum health and to aid in weight loss. Why am I bringing it up again? I’ve had three separate conversations in the past week about the importance of hydration. In those conversations I was reminded that many people still don’t get how important it is to simply drink enough water.

Fact 1 – Water is the main constituent of the human body. It should represent 50% to 60% of your total mass. The muscles and brain are 75% water. You cannot survive without it! No other nutrient is more essential or needed in such large quantities.

Fact 2 – Many people say they “don’t like water” or “forget to drink it”.

Fact 3 – Water is not a choice. It is required.

Lack of water will affect how other systems function and grow and recover. The reason it is important for weight management or weight loss is that when your body is functioning optimally, it will regulate all systems and work towards finding your perfect weight.

Symptoms of Dehydration

Mild dehydration can cause symptoms such as thirst, headache, weakness, dizziness and fatigue and generally makes people feel tired and lethargic.

Symptoms of moderate dehydration may include dry mouth, little or no urine, sluggishness, a rapid heartbeat and lack of skin elasticity.

Severe dehydration is a life-threatening medical emergency, and is characterized by extreme thirst, no urine, rapid breathing, altered mental state and cold, clammy skin.

If you are thirsty, you are already mildly dehydrated. You should drink regularly, avoiding thirst.  A decrease in hydration of just 1% of your body weight can negatively affect your ability to exercise!

Here’s an interesting point – The afternoon wall, hunger or lack of energy that most people mistake for hunger (often giving in to sugary carbohydrate snacks), is OFTEN thirst. Try drinking water or herbal tea first.

Does it HAVE to be water?

Replacement of the body’s water and salt losses is essential to maintain appropriate hydration and a good health status. Replacement of water can be achieved through food and beverages. It is calculated that of the total water consumed, 20-30% typically comes from food and 70-80% from beverages, but this may vary greatly, depending on diet.

Plain water is a significant source of liquid intake in many humans, but many beverages like juices, milk, sparkling drinks, coffee and tea are more than 85% water and are therefore also an important source of water. It has been shown that the variety of sources, colours and flavours of beverages is as important as variety of food in nutrition.

Thus the answer is no, but water has no calories or side effects!

Four activities where hydration is key!

1. Studying

Being well hydrated is important for physical and mental health. The brain represents only 2% of the body’s weight, but gets 20% of blood circulation. When dehydrated, the blood volume in the body falls and there is a danger that the amount of blood, and hence the amount of oxygen and vital nutrients that are supplied to the brain, may also fall.

2. Driving

Dehydration can cause headaches, tiredness and loss of concentration, affecting mental alertness. Driving in a hot car can lead to sweating with large losses of water and mineral salts or electrolytes. Even in an air conditioned car, water losses can be high on a long drive.

3. Physical Activity

Dehydration during exercise may be reduced or prevented by drinking sufficient amounts of beverages or sports drinks both during and prior to sports activities when water loss is expected to occur. Sports drinks provide fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates. During exercise, drinking should occur regularly, but the frequency of drinking and the amount consumed will depend on many factors, including the intensity and duration of exercise and the weather conditions, as well as on the physical characteristics of the individual, including body weight and individual sweating characteristics.

4. At Work

Many factors such as increased workload, stress, long journeys to or from work, dry air due to air-conditioning or heating environments can affect the normal functioning of the body and increase water loss even when we are not noticeably sweating.

How much water should you drink every day?  Here is a simple method to calculate your daily water intake requirement.

Body weight ÷ 2 = the number of ounces of water per day.

Divide this number by 8 to calculate how many glasses.

There are a lot more reasons to stay hydrated…but this is a simple overview intended to remind or encourage you to THINK about it every day. It matters and just might be the missing link that is slowing the success of your wellness journey.

How much water do you drink each day? I love getting feedback. And don’t forget to leave a link back to your own blog if you have one via the commentluv feature here on the site.

Until next time,

Robin

 

2 replies
  1. Julie
    Julie says:

    Very good points. We tend to just think about dehydration during exercise, but driving around in a hot car, heavy physical labor, and mental labor requires extra water too.

    Reply

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