Water is very important for many reasons. It has many health and performance benefits. Everyone knows that drinking water — and making sure it’s a substantial amount — is important for a healthy lifestyle.
Water lubricates your joints, protects your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues, and helps to regulate your body temperature. This would make sense since 60 percent of the human adult body is made up of water.
According to a 2013 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, 43 percent of adults drink less than four cups of water a day, 36 percent drink one to three cups, and seven percent drink none at all.
Eight, 8 oz. glasses of water a day: it’s a rule that’s been burned into our brains for years as the ideal amount of fluid to drink each day. Yet no matter how many times experts say that’s not quite accurate, many still believe “8×8” is the magic amount.
The truth: How much water you should drink each day really, truly depends on the person, Robert A. Huggins, PhD, of the University of Connecticut explained to Health. “Fluid needs are dynamic and need to be individualized from person to person. Factors such as sex, environmental conditions, level of heat acclimatization, exercise or work intensity, age, and even diet need to be considered.”
How do you know if you are dehydrated?
Feeling thirsty and passing dark coloured, strong-smelling urine are some of the initial signs that you could be dehydrated. Other symptoms can include feeling sluggish, feeling light headed and or having a dry mouth.
People at the extremes of age, such as children and the elderly, are more at risk of becoming dehydrated. Signs that might give your doctor cause for concern is if children are becoming drowsy, having fewer wet nappies or if they are breathing more quickly. Older people often may not realise that they are dehydrated and confusion is a common presentation of dehydration in the elderly.
Patients experiencing vomiting, diarrhoea or sweats as a result of a fever can become dehydrated quickly unless they are able to replace the extra water lost from the body.
Is it possible to be overhydrated?
It is possible to drink too much, although a person with healthy kidneys is normally able to deal with that by visiting the toilet more often.
Overhydration occurs when the body retains or collects too much water. This can lead to water intoxication and sodium levels that are dangerously low, which is referred to as hyponatraemia.
Some athletes who participate in endurance events, especially marathon runners, can be prone to taking on too much fluid and suffering from hyponatraemia. A study in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine this month has looked at replacement of fluids in athletes, with the concluding advice that those participating in sports should drink according to their thirst levels.
In some cases, there are medical reasons why the body is unable to cope with excess water. This water retention tends to affect people with kidney and heart conditions. Swollen ankles is a common sign of water retention.
In order to help the body to relieve itself of excess water, and to relieve pressure on the heart and other organs, doctors use diuretics or water tablets that promote the production of urine.
Water and Brain Challenges
Dr. Allen has found that people with brain challenges such as Autism, Aspergers, ADD, head injuries, anxiety attacks and depression often drink almost no water each day! The lack of water only enhances brain dysfunction.
Brain inflammation is often associated with various types of brain challenges, especially injuries, and will often result in the body’s inability to detoxify harmful substances from the brain.
There are several health problems that may respond well to increased water intake:
Constipation: Increasing water intake can help with constipation, which is a very common problem.
Cancer: There are some studies showing that those who drink more water have a lower risk of bladder and colorectal cancer, although other studies find no effect.
Kidney stones: Increased water intake appears to decrease the risk of kidney stones.
Acne and skin hydration: There are a lot of anecdotal reports on the internet about water helping to hydrate the skin and reducing acne, but I didn’t find any studies to confirm or refute this.
All fluids count toward your daily intake, not just plain old H20.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the benchmark should really say “eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid,” not water, because drinking things like milk, tea, and juice contribute to your total. “Good options for hydration without added calories are waters infused with fruit and herbs, unsweetened tea, and sparkling water,” Levinson says.
So does the water you get from the foods you eat.
“Your body absorbs water in foods just like it would liquids,” Levinson says. Many fruits and vegetables have high water content. Some good options: watermelon (duh), cucumbers, lettuce, celery, tomatoes, strawberries, oranges, and grapefruit. Even soup, Jell-O, and ice pops count as fluid.
On the flip side, some foods and drinks can increase how much water you need.
“Foods with a diuretic effect, such as alcohol and asparagus, may cause you to excrete more water so you may need more,” Levinson says. If you eat high-sodium foods, your body likely will retain more water, leaving you thirstier. Drinking more fluids will help dilute your system and get fluids moving regularly again.
Since you’re not always keeping track of these “sneaky” sources of fluids, the best way to gauge your intake is by how your body feels.
If you’re thirsty, your body’s telling you that you need more water. “You might already be dehydrated,” Levinson says. Another good way to determine your fluid status is by taking a peek inside the toilet after you pee. “If your urine is light yellow, you’re probably getting enough fluids. If it’s dark or smells strongly, you probably need more water.”
To make sure you’re hydrated, keep a refillable water bottle with you all day so you can constantly sip whenever you want, and make a conscious effort to drink more whenever you’re getting sweaty.
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This article is not intended to take the place of a competent nutritionist or doctor. It is solely intended to educate people on the vital and perhaps underestimated importance of this nutritional element.
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