The 411 on H2O
You’ve heard the saying a million times, “I’m dying of thirst.” It’s a saying that emphasizes the importance and urgency of chugging down a glass of water when feeling parched. But how important is it to stay hydrated? You’d be surprised at how much our bodies rely on water to maintain our optimum performance.
Our Bodies on Water
The human body is a complex system; it houses all of our major organs and its systems work simultaneously to sustain our basic needs for survival. All of our systems (the circulatory, respiratory, immune, urinary, skeletal, excretory, muscular, endocrine, digestive, nervous, and reproductive systems) require water to function properly. Nearly 60% of human body weight is comprised of water, making water the primary chemical component in our body. Other parts of our body are also made up of water; our brain and muscles are made up of about 70%, our blood about 82% and our lungs about 90%.
A mere 1-2% drop in our body’s water content generates a considerable amount of issues in terms of our functionality. With our entire body relying on water, it’s no wonder that dehydration can cause our memory to become foggy, disrupt our focus, slow down our ability to do basic math, and cause fatigue.
Inside our bodies, water delivers nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, and glucose to our cells. Through our self-regulation systems (excretory and urinary), water expels toxins from our bodies. From the sweat on your face to the evaporation of moisture from our skin, even our perspiration removes toxins. During a normal day of activity, the average person loses 2-3 cups of water from perspiration. Where as during one hour of vigorous exercise, a person can lose up to one quart of water. You even lose water during exhaling. Every bit of this water loss contributes to dehydration, which is why it is so paramount to replenish any water loss.
Fitness and Hydration
Water is essential to our physical performance. Proper hydration regulates our body temperature during an intense workout, seeing that as we sweat during exercise the sweat causes the body to cool down as it evaporates on our skin. The right amount of hydration allows you to burn the maximum amount of calories during and after a workout. Water also lubricates our joints and protects our organs and tissues from damage. Conversely, dehydration prevents our bodies from building and repairing muscles, an important undertaking for cell repair and towards getting that lean and muscular look.
The recommended amount of water consumption has been the tried and true “8 ounce glass, 8 times a day.” According to the Institute of Medicine, men and women need anywhere between 88 to 120 ounces of water (found in either food consumption or from drinking) to be properly hydrated. Although 64 ounces of water is a safe bet, your personal requirement of consumption depends on a few factors. Your health, age, climate, activity level, and body weight all weigh in on how much water your body needs to be at its best.
- Health – Those who have illnesses or diseases should drink more water.
- Age – The older you are, the more aware you should be of your consumption.
- Climate – If you live in a hot environment, hydrate!
- Activity Level – All you avid exercisers should be sipping water during and after your workouts.
- Body Weight – The heavier you are, the more you should drink.
Follow these quick tips to make sure you’re staying on top of you’re a-game:
- Listen to your body and let your thirst steer your consumption.
- Don’t wait until you’re super parched to drink water. By then, you’ve already begun to lose some of your body’s water supply.
- Start and end your day with water. You’d be surprised how much you lose overnight.
- There is no substitute for drinking water. Coffee, tea, soda, and alcohol are not alternatives.
- Carry around a filled reusable water vessel. You won’t forget to drink water if you have it on you.
- Drink a glass of water before and after each meal. This zero calorie beverage will help prevent over eating and will guarantee at least 48 ounces of your daily intake.
- Observe the color of your urine. The darker it is, the more water you need to drink.
- Throwing a lemon and some ginger into your water adds a little bit of refreshing flavor while aiding in your digestion.
- Eat fruits and veggies that contain water to meet your suggested daily intake.
Center for Disease Control – Drinking Water
Psychology Today – Why Your Brain Needs Water
How Stuff Works – Water On The Brain
The Body Odd – Better Brain Fuzzy Cure? Sip Some Water
Scientific American – Too Much Drinking Water Can Kill
Women’s Health Magazine – How to Get More Energy
Women’s Health Magazine – Safe Tap Water