The importance of nutrition has been widely publicised by the media and education channels in the last few years. You really are what you eat. However, it should also be just as important to clarify that what you drink, or do not drink for that matter, is of equal, and sometimes higher, importance. Why is drinking enough water so important?
Facts on Hydration
"Our bodies are 65 to 70% water. It is less if you have a lot of body fat. Body fat is anhydrous: contains almost no water (less than 10%). Not so with muscle. The general estimation of the amount of water that forms muscle is 70%". Professor Roberta H. Anding, Nutrition Made Clear
- The climate plays a definitive role on the amount of water you should consume. In hot climates, a much larger amount of water needs to be consumed, because of the excess of water being released as sweat in order to normalize your body temperature to a safe level. Nevertheless, a minimum amount of water per day needs to be consumed even in cold climates, because the role of water goes far beyond maintaining our body heat to a safe level.
- With ageing and a sedentary lifestyle, our bodies loses lean mass (muscle), and gain body fat. It is not necessarily a certainty. Such “norm” can be avoided by the implementation of diet and exercise into our lifestyle. The danger of an unbalanced lean body mass ratio (LBM) comes when it becomes medically difficult to calculate intravenous fluid requirements, in case you become a hospitalized patient. Furthermore, since the amount of water in your body is reduced, so will the inclination to consume water, as thirst will diminish.
The Functions of Water in Our Body
- Water is a transport vehicle for digestion and the transport of nutrients to the cells within the blood. A good level of hydration will ensure good digestive health and optimum nutrition.
- It lubricates our joints. The synovial fluid in our knees is composed mainly of water.
- Tears: The primary role of tears is to remove any foreign, harmful debris from remaining in contact with your eyes.
- Water is used for dissipation of excessive heat and regulation of heat loss. It not only lowers your body temperature when it becomes dangerously high, but it also keeps it at a safe level in cold climates. It is important to remain hydrated in cold weather, and the use of alcohol for comfort is a disadvantage, as alcohol causes dehydration.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
Taking in consideration the amount of water contained in our food, what we consume accounts, in average, to about 17 ounces of water per day, depending on our diet (Fruits, vegetables, milk, and yogurt are between 80 and 90% water). That is equivalent to about half a litter of water per day.
Most people would be sufficiently hydrated by consuming two litters of water per day. However, that can only be taken in consideration in perfect scenarios. For example, if your climate is mild, your body mass is adequate, your diet is appropriate, and your lifestyle is healthy.
Contrary to common-sense, thirst is not a reliable way of finding out whether or not you need to consume more water. There is a gap between your dehydration and the arrival of thirst, especially when taking certain medications, if you are of advanced age, and due to health complications. In severe cases of extreme heat or heave exercise, thirst may come too late, and dehydration may become dangerous. In such cases, it is vital to drink water or a sports drink that will replenish your loss of electrolytes – even if not thirsty.
In the long run, the best way to find out whether you are hydrated or dehydrated is by analysing the colour of your urine. If it is pale, like lemonade, you have done a good job in drinking enough water. If it is dark, like apple juice, or even darker, you are dehydrated. It is this simple.
"Water remains the best choice for hydration. Low-fat milk will also give you a great protein source, or you can mix seltzer water with juice. As some juices are high in calories and sugars, try to drink in moderation or mix half water and half juice for a water juice combination. Soda and iced tea should be drunk in moderation because they usually come with lots of sugar and caffeine". Julie Raeder Schumacher
Keep in mind …
An optimum state of health will never be dissociated with proper hydration. Water is the fluid of life, and when it comes to being healthy, such fact has never been truer. Why is drinking enough water so important? Because for the most part, you are made of water.
Teach12.com, "Nutrition Made Clear," accessed 05/10/2010
Thinkexist.com, "Julie Raeder Schumacher Quotes," accessed 05/10/2010