Importance of water and how it affects your body
Rethink what you drink… It may be easy to choose the best tasting option for your summer refreshment but nothing beats water when it comes to maintaining good health and an active lifestyle.
You probably know hydration is very important when it’s blazing hot outside but daily hydration is always a necessity no matter what the temperature is. Your body is made up of 60% water, meaning it is crucial to replenish what is lost in sweat from your summer activities. It uses that water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate temperature and maintain other bodily functions.
- Optimizes the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your cells
- Levels blood pressure
- Aids in digestion
- Protects organs and tissues
- Cushions joints for more comfortable participation in activities
- Regulates body temperature
- Maintains electrolyte balance
How much water should you drink?
Four to six cups is a good starting point to get enough water in a day, for most people. That is equal to about 100 ounces or 3/4 of a gallon. When it comes to how much YOU should drink each day, there is no one size fits all answer. In fact, water intake is individualized and you should schedule a visit with your primary care provider to develop a health plan and determine the right daily amount of water for you.
There are many factors that can affect how much you need to drink, such as:
- Where you live (High altitude, humid, or hot areas require higher water intake)
- Your diet (Salty, spicy, or sugary foods require higher water intake)
- Temperature or season (Warmer months require higher water intake)
- Environment (Spending more time outdoors and heated rooms require higher water intake)
- Your health (Sicknesses, diabetes)
- How active you are (More active lifestyles require more water to cover water loss)
However, drinking as much water as you can, especially at one time, is not the answer. When you drink too much water, like 10 gallons, your kidneys may not have the ability to get rid of the excess. This leads to the sodium content of your blood becoming diluted and possibly could result in hyponatremia which is a rare condition requiring medical attention. High risk cases of this condition are rare and very unlikely, but low risk cases can be common and are easily treated.
Not just water contributes to your hydration, beverages of all kinds that contain water contribute to your daily needs. There are many reasons water is still the best choice, other drinks containing sugar, like Gatorade, are good for hydration but should not be considered a substitute. Other substances, like caffeine, can negatively affect your health but can also provide hydration. These are good to have every once in a while but should not be seen as an alternative.
Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in and your body doesn’t have enough water or other fluids to carry out its normal functions. In the heat, your body will sweat in order to keep your body cool which means staying hydrated is more difficult and even more important. An easy way to avoid dehydration is to drink fluids gradually throughout the day by having a drink at each meal or every time you go outside.
Quick tips to establish or maintain healthy drinking habits:
- Understand your personal fluid needs
- Keep a reusable water bottle accessible throughout the day
- Set reminders (each hour) to encourage gradual water intake throughout the day
- Eat foods with high water (Watermelon, lettuce, celery, cantaloupe)
- Have water with each meal throughout the day
- Replace other drinks with water
- Flavor your water with inexpensive fruit-infuser water bottles