Water water everywhere, but do you need a drink? It’s hard to justify why 75% of North Americans are chronically dehydrated when water is the earth’s most abundant resource. Water literally is everywhere you look – it’s in lakes and streams, it’s in plants and trees, it’s even inside of you. You use water in many of your daily activities – swimming, fishing, washing, and cooking. However, as available as water is to you, are you drinking enough of it?
While you can survive for weeks to months without food, you cannot survive for more than a few days without water. From a physiological perspective, water is the “most essential element” to the human body. It is required to perform proper digestion, absorption, circulation, and excretion. In fact, water accounts for approximately 60% of your total body weight.
How do you know if you are getting enough water?
When you are properly hydrated, your urine should exhibit very little colour. Experts recommend that you consume approximately half of your body weight in ounces per day. For example, a 200 pound individual would need to drink 100 ounces, or 3 liters, of water per day.
The effects of dehydration:
Dehydration is defined as “a loss of water from the body.” Depending on the extent to which you are dehydrated, a number of different signs may present.
Early signs of dehydration:
dizziness & fatigue
loss of appetite
inability to concentrate
Advanced signs of dehydration:
dark yellow urine
shortness of breath
To understand how dehydration affects your body, you must look at how dehydration effects your body’s smallest living component – the cell. Cells of your body become specialized and join together in groups to form the tissues and organs, like the brain, heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, and intestines. When you do not consume the recommended daily supply of water, your cells, and therefore your organs, become impaired. When the organs of your body are not working at maximum efficiency, your health is dramatically affected.
Quench your thirst:
The sensation of thirst is the body’s signal to replenish its fluid supply. However, it is a poor indicator of the body’s water and electrolyte balance. Generally, by the time you feel the urge to drink, you are already behind in your fluid consumption. Having a fluid source available that you can drink from throughout the day, is a great way to avoid dehydration.
Is it possible to drink too much water?
No! Unless you have kidney problems/disease or your doctor has recommended against it, drink all your heart desires because your body will dispose of any excess fluids. You may just need to make a few extra trips to the bathroom.
What do Athletes, Snowbirds, and Coffee Connoisseurs have in common?
They are all susceptible to dehydration. Though caffeinated (coffee) and alcoholic (beer) beverages taste great, they are less filling. This is because they are diuretics; meaning that they promote the loss of fluids from the body. So, if you are drinking one of these drinks from your right hand, you should be grasping a glass of water with your left hand. Furthermore, athletes and those who live in warmer climates are at increased risk of dehydration due to fluid loss as a result of sweating. To compensate for this loss, these individuals need to increase their fluid consumption beyond the earlier mentioned recommendations.
The truth about Sports Drinks:
Gatorade, Poweraid, Sports Aid, etc. … there is no end to the number of different sports drinks available today. Truth be told, they are not for everyone. These drinks are designed to replenish electrolytes in your body that are lost during excessive sweating. Therefore, they are only beneficial to individuals who perform intense activities for periods of greater than 1.5 to 2 hours. Most of these drinks supply a carbohydrate energy source to enhance endurance during these prolonged activities. The downside of this energy source is, that if you are not exercising hard enough, these carbohydrates will inhibit fat metabolism. In other words, if you are looking to shed a few pounds you should avoid these drinks altogether.
In case you were wondering, the Journal of Sports Medicine claims that there is little evidence to suggest that one electrolyte beverage is superior to others with regards to improved performance during exercise.
Tips to keep you hydrated:
Drink at least 8 to 10 eight ounce glasses of water/juice daily
Keep your drinks cold as the stomach absorbs colder liquids faster
Avoid coffee, tea, and sodas with caffeine
Keep a glass of water nearby to drink from throughout the day
Drink plenty of extra fluids after getting even mild exercise
Drink more fluids when you’ve experienced vomiting or diarrhea
Learn about medications you are taking that might cause water loss
if you have any questions about the importance of maintaining proper hydration, please contact your Comox Chiropractor Dr. Houlgrave. He will be happy to assist you with any of your questions.