The Importance Of Hydration
Water: the most important thing you can put in your body
Not only is water necessary for existence, your body has an unending need to consume and absorb it. Of course, many of us already know the cardinal rule about the necessity of drinking eight glasses of water a day. But what many of us do not know is exactly why we need so much water.
Basically you can think of the human body as a machine that needs water for three vital functions:
1. To maintain normal performance levels;
2. For temperature control;
3. To help process every biological mechanical, and chemical action that takes place in your body.
Any loss of water can cause malfunction, downtime, and can even be devastating to the machine’s well-being. In addition, not only is your body comprised of a large percentage of water; it is constantly losing water in ways your are not aware. So replacing that water, constantly, is vitally important.
MORE IMPORTANT THAN FOOD
Water is so important to the body that it takes priority even over food. In fact, the average person of normal weight can go for 30 days without eating. Yet, if that same person goes for just 72 hours without drinking, he or she cannot live.
This points out how important water is, not just for survival techniques, but for every day living.
YOU ARE WATER
Exactly how much of the human body is water? If you are an adult, it is likely that your body contains roughly 40 quarts of water. If you are a male, water comprises as much as 60-65 percent of your body. If you are female, your body contains 50-60 percent water.
Men usually have a larger percentage of water because they have more fat compared to body weight. And, while muscle contains a large amount of water, fat contains virtually none.
THE BIG THREE: EXERCISE, NUTRITION, HYDRATION
Many of us already know the components of good health. By now we all recognize that for most of us, inactivity is downright hazardous to one’s health. In fact, the added risk of inactivity is equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. So, any fitness program has to include exercise of one form or another.
We also now realize that diet also has a lot to do with our health. There is one other component that is equally as important as exercise and nutrition, but rarely mentioned in the same breath: Hydration.
Hydration means meeting that unending need for water in the human body. But good hydration has to be an act of will. Meaning, you must drink water, even when you don’t feel thirsty. It is the only practical way to meet your body’s real water needs.
GOOD HYDRATION PROMOTES GOOD PERFORMANCE
The 40 or so quarts of water in your body sounds like a lot. But even a small loss of water will have serious consequences, including a laboratory-proven measurable decrease in physical performance. That loss only needs to total a mere 2 percent of your entire amount of body water. Which is not an unusual amount to lose in an average hour of exercise. If your water loss amounts to somewhere between 5 and 6% you will experience definite symptoms of dehydration and weakness. You may feel slightly dizzy, you may have a headache, and you may even find it difficult to express yourself in words. If you lost 15 -20% of your body’s water, it becomes serious enough to be considered life-threatening.
WE’RE LIKE CARS: WATER IS OUR COOLANT
Just as in your car, water is your body’s principal coolant. Without adequate water, you will overheat simply because the human body cannot handle a temperature approaching the 107 to 108 degree range.
Fortunately, your sweat mechanism and your skin are designed to help maintain and regulate body temperature with great precision. Excess heat, for example, is eliminated through the uncountable pores that cover your entire body. The capillaries dilate to help bring water to the skin’s surface and to the pores to facilitate perspiration. Cooling occurs as the water evaporates.
WATER IS YOUR BODY’S LUBRICANT FOR EVERY PUMP, VALVE AND FILTER
Water is essential for virtually every biological process, chemical and mechanical action that takes place in every part of every human body. For instance, since water comprises a large portion of the blood itself, water is needed for your heart to pump and to maintain your circulatory system, including your blood pressure.
Water is needed to carry away waste products. If allowed to accumulate, these wastes can become harmful. Every joint in your body also requires water, as a lubricant so motions will be smooth and painless.
In addition, the function of the lungs is not just to collect and process air, but also to heat and humidify it. The digestive system uses several gallons of water daily to process food.
And, most importantly, your brain could not perform the chemical reactions required to run the body without adequate hydration. After all, about ¾ of the brain itself is water.
THIRST MEANS YOUR BODY IS SENDING AN EMERGENCY SIGNAL
Most people drink only when they get thirsty. Thirst, however lags far behind the body’s need for water and is sorely inadequate to signal your body’s hydration needs. If, for instance, you are involved in a regular exercise program and rely solely on thirst to replenish your water, it takes up to 24 hours before your body returns to proper hydration status.
That is why you cannot depend on your thirst mechanism to achieve good hydration. And that is also why for decades, most physicians have urged their patients to consciously follow that cardinal rule mentioned earlier, to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day.
THE HUMAN BODY IS A REAL DRAIN
You are always losing water. In addition to normal elimination and heavy perspiration, you lose water through what doctors call “insensible” water losses.
For instance, even when you are just sitting quietly, you are constantly and lightly sweating. Even while you read this. You also lose water when you breathe.
Every time you breathe out, you eliminate some of the water vapor your lungs use to heat and humidify air. On a cold winter day, you can actually see this loss as a cloud that comes from your mouth whenever you breathe.
The insensible losses total approximately a quart of water each day. Other external losses being the total up to two and a half to three quarts of water per day. If you exercise for an hour of so, or if you live in a hot, humid climate add another quart.
You could really be losing as much as a gallon of water every day do nothing.
WATER: FLIGHT INSURANCE
People often do the opposite of what they should do on long distance air travel; they drink alcoholic, sugared, or decaffeinated beverages. These beverages can have the opposite effect desired, by acting as mild diuretics. Since the humidity level inside a modern jet aircraft while in flight can be akin to the Sahara desert, it’s a bad idea to drink anything other than plain water.
Consequently, your need for water increases. Instead of the usual beverages, for good hydration you should really be drinking water, and plenty of it - before, during, and after the flight.
THE MORE YOU EXERCISE THE MORE YOU SHOULD DRINK
After exercising for about an hour you will lose about a quart of water. Those who believe that large quantities of sodium and potassium are lost in perspiration are mistaken. While perspiration contains small amounts of potassium and sodium what you are basically losing is water. It is vital is to replace that water.
To maintain good hydration and to keep even mild dehydration from affecting your performance during exercise follow this routine even if it sounds like a lot to drink: Drink 8 oz of water before you exercise. Drink approximately 4 oz of water every 15 minutes or so while exercising. Then, drink 8 oz again, about 20-30 minutes after you finish exercising.
Water has absolutely zero calories, zero sugar and can give you a satisfying feeling that can reduce hunger. In contrast, drinking a sugary, high calorie beverage after exercising is an absolute waste if exercise is part of a dieting program. So dieters will find it helpful to have a glass of water before each meal.
DRINK IN COLD WEATHER AS WELL AS HOT
Most people are conscious about drinking more during hot weather. And well they should. But we all lose water in cold weather, too - especially if we are active. In addition, cold air tends to be drier. And the inside of heated homes in the winter tends to be drier. All of these things conspire to increase the body’s need for water.
So don’t forget about keeping yourself well hydrated, even in the winter months.
IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY
It is surprising how many parents are unaware that their young children, particularly babies may also need to drink water. In fact, babies have a higher risk of dehydration than adults because there is a great proportion of water in a baby’s body than in an adult. In addition, water can help promote elimination and help the incompletely formed kidneys of infants to excrete toxins. To ensure your child is healthy, it’s important to ask a pediatrician about all aspects of your child’s diet, including hydration requirements.
©2002-2013 XO Water, LLC. All Rights Reserved. All content and designs are protected by copyright and registered trademarks.
Copyright © 2013 XO Water, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Website Design by ClearPoint Studio