From Guest Writer Kim Stark
Water is by far the nutrient most needed by the body. Water is in the make up of every cell, tissue, and organ in the body. Water is responsible for about 60% of body weight. Even the bones and teeth are a percentage of water. The majority of our muscles (about 75%) are made up of water.
Okay, so we now know our body is mostly water what’s the big deal. The big deal is that every task our body performs requires water. Water is a transporter of nutrients, helps remove waste and toxins, carries messages to our brain, hormones throughout our body, water also helps our body regulate body temperature and it also acts as a cushion around our spinal cord and joints. Some other research also shows that drinking plenty of water may protect against some cancers in men and women. It may also help prevent kidney stones by keeping the kidneys flushed and functioning properly.
So just maybe water is an extremely vital part of our bodily functions right. You say well I don’t think I drink enough, does that mean you’re going to fall over and shrivel up? No, not necessarily shrivel up and wilt away, but on the serious side you can become dehydrated if you do not drink enough water.
How do you get enough water? What is dehydration and why so dangerous? You say you don’t like water it’s too plain. Good questions and I will get to that in just a moment.
You now know it’s important to stay hydrated so your body can function properly and do its job efficiently, which is to keep you alive! Okay, so you need water to function and live, but you say if you drink so much water you’ll live in the bathroom. Not 100% true. Your body loses water everyday just by normal processes that occur within (also known as metabolic activities). Some of these activities are, breathing, sweating, and some are also lost in the feces. This doesn’t include if you are physically active and like to work out, or you live in a humid area. Your body has to adjust its internal thermostat, which causes a loss of water too. So, needless to say the intake of fluids needs to balance the output of fluids.
Did your mom ever tell you as a child, if you borrow something you need to put it back when you’re finished? Or maybe, if you use up the last of something you need to replace it? That’s an easy way to look at balancing what you lose in water. It needs to be replaced.
The input vs. output of water requires functioning kidneys and an adequate intake of fluids. Functioning kidneys? What’s that have to do with anything? Well, simply put, kidneys remove waste pass it on down to the bladder. Then when it’s time for the waste to exit the body your kidneys send a message to your bladder (through a process that involves water) and it exits by a well-known process called urinating, also known as going pee.
An easy way to tell that you get enough fluids is by the color of your urine. If it’s very light in color almost clear, that means you’re getting an adequate intake of fluids, however if it is dark yellow, has a mild odor, try drinking more. If it has an extremely dark color almost brown or it is brown, and a strong odor, you just might want to go see a doctor, pretty quickly like as of yesterday. That may be an indication dehydration has set in, which can cause your kidneys to come to a halt among other life threatening symptoms if not treated right away.
Okay now that I have scared you a little, let’s get back to the fun stuff. So, other than the color of you urine, is there another way to tell if you’re getting enough water? What about being thirsty? Shouldn’t that be enough of an indication you need water? I say, nope, not at all. Thirst is what leads a person to get a drink, and thirst can also influence on how much we drink. However, being thirsty doesn’t let us know how much our body actually needs and is lacking. Being thirsty is a mild symptom of dehydration. Some others include dry mouth, dry skin, and mild headaches.
Did you know water is the most important source of energy in our body? When there is a loss of water or dehydration sets in that loss can greatly affect your performance and energy levels. Minor lesson for you, your cells get energy from activities that enzymes carry out. These enzymes are fueled by good ole’ h2o. When you lose even the tiniest amount of fluid your body can feel a sever drop in energy. Lets just say we don’t lose a “small” amount, it’s a pretty big actually. Normal metabolic functions (breathing, urinating, and so on) cost us about 2 liters of water a day. That’s big! Just by a 1-2% loss of body weight in water can cause fatigue, weakness, and even a loss of appetite. And lets face it, those few things can cause us to be late to work, moody, and prevent us from performing at our highest ability.
Now, back to your questions. What is dehydration? Dehydration happens when the body loses too much or isn’t getting enough water. A couple of the most common causes of dehydration are from diarrhea and vomiting. Water isn’t replaced quick enough for the excess amount its losing.
Easy preventions for dehydration include drinking the daily recommended 6-10 glasses of water and eating foods that contain water as well. An easy formula to remember is take your weight in pounds, divide that by two, and that is how many ounces of water you should drink for your body weight. This does not mean to guzzle your entire recommended amount all at once. The body can only absorb so much at one time. If you chug a whole glass of water, your body will take in what it needs at that moment and spit out the rest, which means unnecessary trips to the bathroom. A helpful suggestion to get the most out of your water intake is to drink it in small amounts throughout the day. Another suggestion is to try drinking a half a cup every half hour spread out over the first 12 hours you’re awake (dependent upon how much water you actually need), and well before bedtime your body can be fully hydrated. Which means cutting out those annoying 4am bathroom calls.
You say it doesn’t taste good, well there other ways to flavor it up or to get water into your body without chugging a bottle full. Foods contain water. Some foods such a fruit contain a high percentage of water. Like watermelon, strawberries, apples or grapes? Those are just a few to name. Snack on some of those throughout the day or add them to your meal plans. Another way to flavor your dull water is try adding frozen fruits like blue berries or kiwi to give it flavor. Make some homemade lemonade and WA-la, you have found a way to disguise that water!
The short lesson here is to get plenty of fluids, because your body requires water to do every little and big task. Most importantly if you don’t get enough it can be life threatening.
Drink to Life! water that is!
Kim is a WebND staff member and is really into nutrition. Kim is currently studying and working towards certifications in Nutrition.
The contents of this blog is not and should not be considered medical advice. This blog is for informational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor before making any dietary or lifestyle changes. Never quit taking prescription medications unless advised to do so by your doctor.
- Preventing Dehydration and Overhydration With Meningitis (everydayhealth.com)
- Too much of a good thing? How drinking too much water can kill (myscienceacademy.org)
- How Much Water Should You Drink in Cold Climates? (refreshingnews99.blogspot.com)