water: drink and thou shall be healthier
Today, I’m sharing an interview with my sister. I am so proud of her. She is studying to be a nutritionist and is currently an Examiner in the Denver area (see her website here). In the interview, she discusses water - why it’s critical to our body’s everyday functions. Did you know according to research estimates, 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated? How crazy is that number?? I think you’ll find lots of helpful information here. I know I did. Most people (including myself) probably don’t realize how dehydration can impact almost every system in your body. Read on!
Why is Water Intake So Important?
Water is essential to life. Every single living cell is made up of water. In fact, water is the most important component of the human body, accounting for an astounding 70% of an adult’s body weight!
|The Human Body’s Water Content by Age|
Can you speak about some of the dangers of dehydration?
Sure. Most people assume they are drinking enough water. Thoughts of dehydration conjures up images of weary marathon runners collapsing after crossing the finish line. These athletes are most likely experiencing acute dehydration, which has sudden and intense symptoms, including death in the most severe cases.
But there is another type of dehydration, called chronic dehydration, which is widespread in today’s culture and causes a variety of chronic health problems. While chronic dehydration is not immediately life-threatening, insufficient water intake will have a significant negative impact on your long-term health. When the body is deprived of liquids over a long period of time, it naturally seeks sources of water inside itself. Valuable water is diverted from the blood and the cells. As a result, two serious problems arise. These problems – 1.) the slowdown of enzymatic processes and 2.) autointoxication – are the precursors to all disorders caused by dehydration.
Enzymes assist in nearly all bodily functions, such as digestion, respiration, elimination, energy production, and detoxification. Enzymes need an environment rich in water to perform their functions. When blood volume and cellular fluids decrease as a result of dehydration, bodily fluids become scant and thick, and enzymes cannot perform their critical tasks. Eventually the body breaks down. This may happen suddenly in acute dehydration, or over time in chronic dehydration. As you can imagine, an enzymatic slowdown caused by lack of water links dehydration to a host of disorders of the human body.
Some of the disorders caused by chronic dehydration are:
- Chronic Fatigue
- Low Energy
- Digestive Disorders
- High or Low Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Premature Aging
- Respiratory Problems
- Stomach Ulcers
- Urinary Infections
Autointoxication is another serious metabolic problem that leads to disorders caused by chronic dehydration. Every day our cells produce toxic waste. Water is essential for flushing these wastes out of the body by way of sweat, urine, exhaled air, and feces. When the body is dehydrated, there is not sufficient water to facilitate the removal of wastes. As a result, elimination slows down and toxins accumulate in the body. Over time, the body becomes poisoned by its own waste products.
Does Water Play a Role in Disease Prevention?
Absolutely! Adequate water intake is beneficial for nearly all diseases experienced by human beings. Without sufficient water every bodily function can be impaired. Most people don’t realize that simply drinking adequate amounts of water could resolve many of their health problems, give them more energy, and help fend off premature aging. Water is a very inexpensive and natural way to heal many common ailments. For example, adequate water is helpful for reducing bowel and bladder problems, headaches, anxiety attacks, food allergies, heartburn, muscle pain, colitis pain, hot flashes, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, obesity, premature aging, poor brain function, kidney stones, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, and many other disorders.
Simple question: how do we know how much water is enough?
Well, we can take a look at how much fluid the body loses each day. The average adult loses about 2.5 liters of liquid each day through various bodily functions.
|The Human Body’s Average Daily Liquid Losses|
|Through the lungs||0.4 liters|
|Through the intestines||0.1liters|
Of course, fluid loss can increase or decrease under certain circumstances, (for example, if you’ve had an intense workout or high fever result in more sweating). If we look at the amount of liquid lost each day it makes sense that we should offset that by taking in at least 2.5 liters of liquid each day. It is essential to replace lost fluids to keep our bodies functioning at peak performance. But, it’s important to remember that the amount of water your body requires each day depends on several factors such as your activity level, food choices, climate, etc. For example, exercise, overeating, excess salt, dry processed foods, smoking, and hot weather can increase water needs. Conversely, eating a lot of fruits and vegetables decreases water requirements. While it is best to meet your fluid requirements with pure water, knowing the water content of certain foods can help you meet your hydration goals.
|Green & red cabbage||90%|
|Soft white cheese||79%|
Most cereal grains, baked good, and legumes contain relatively little water. The exceptions are some grains cooked in liquid, such as cooked rice and cooked pasta, which contain 71 percent and 61 percent water, respectively.
So, what’s the best way for people to meet their daily water requirements?
Most people typically only drink enough to quench a dry throat, which really does not come close to covering their daily water needs. With this in mind, it’s easy to see how so many of us become dehydrated. In order to stay properly hydrated it may be helpful to schedule and measure your water intake. As we age, our taste buds become less sensitive so it becomes even more critical to drink even when we are not thirsty. If your goal is to drink 2.5 liters of water per day, use a 10 ounce glass and aim for 8 full glass per day. Always start your day with a large glass of water to awaken and rehydrate your body. Drink large amounts of water at least 30 minutes before and one hour after meals to avoid diluting digestive juices. Small amounts of liquid (preferably warm) with meals is fine. If you’re concerned about weight loss, drink a large glass of water instead of eating when you feel hungry. It’s very common to confuse the sense of hunger for thirst. A good gauge of whether or not you’re hydrated is your frequency and volume of urination. You should use the bathroom every few hours and your urine should be light colored. Dark, concentrated urine is a sign of dehydration.
Some other common signs of dehydration are:
- Irritability, impatience, restlessness, difficulty sleeping
- Unusually dry skin and loss of appetite with constipation
- Water retention
Can you tell us what the best type of water is? Is tap water ok?
All drinks are not created equal. The majority of your liquid intake should be water. If you enjoy other beverages chose drinks with a strong hydrating capacity such as unsweetened herbal tea (non-diuretic), unsweetened fruit juice, and vegetable juice. Minimize drinks with a weak hydrating capacity including coffee, black tea, cocoa, soft drinks, and alcohol. These beverages increase water needs instead of satisfying them.
With all of the “water products” on the market today, choosing a drinking water can be overwhelming. Start by sampling a few different filtered and bottled waters to find one that you enjoy drinking. The more you like the taste, the more you’ll drink! If you drink tap water, depending on where you live you may want to purchase a good quality filter to remove contaminants. There are several types of bottled waters on the market. Bottled spring water from a credible source (e.g., (Denver-based Eldorado Springs) and reverse osmosis filters are good choices. Visit www.epa.gov to learn more about bottled water and tap water regulations.