Water needs to be considered an essential nutrient. Because of easy access we take water for granted and do not realize the importance of proper hydration. According to experts, water is ranked second only to oxygen as essential for life. Your overall body weight is 2/3 water. A person can survive about two months without food, but only a few days without water.
Water is the most abundant ingredient in the human body through all phases of growth and development. Every system in your body depends on water to function.
- Water is essential to your body’s temperature regulation, keeping it cool through perspiration.
- Water flushes out toxins and wastes.
- Water is a major component of blood which carries nutrients and oxygen to and from all cells.
- Water provides a moist environment for all body tissues. It is the major component of saliva and mucous which lubricates the membranes that line our digestive system beginning with the mouth. Mucous membranes in the nose and eyes function better when well hydrated.
- Water cushions joints and protects tissues and organs like the brain from shock and damage.
- Water helps maintain a healthy weight. It is hard to distinguish between hunger and thirst. If you feel hungry, drink some water first and then reassess your hunger status.
Water is an important part of your daily bodily functions, so it is important to continually replenish it. Each day, your body loses 2-3 quarts of water through sweat, urination, excretion and breathing. The body loses even more water if you exercise, live in hot or dry climates, consume high fiber diets, and consume caffeine or alcohol. It is recommended to drink 8-10 cups of fluid a day, adding more water if any of the previously stated situations apply.
Signs of illnesses, such as fever, vomiting or diarrhea, cause your body to lose additional fluids. In these cases, you should drink more fluids and may even need oral rehydration solutions like Gatorade or Powerade. Bladder infections and urinary tract stones also require increased water intake. On the other hand, conditions such as heart failure and certain conditions relating to the kidney, liver or adrenal glands may impair excretion of water and may require a limited fluid intake.
Consuming caffeinated beverages may be a concern because caffeine acts as a diuretic and can cause increased urination. Caffeine is found in coffee, teas, and many soft drinks. Try to drink caffeinated beverages in moderation and focus on consuming more water.
To help increase your water consumption, try:
- Adding lemon or lime to water. Drink no-calorie flavored water.
- Eat foods that have higher water content like: cucumber, watermelon, lettuce, celery, grapes, oranges, tomatoes.
- Drink non-fat milk.
- Keep a water bottle handy.
- Mix ice and fruit in a blender to create a smoothie.
- Try decaffeinated tea or coffee.
- Soda and juice are okay once in a while, but it is preferable to drink other liquids because soda and juice have more calories and sugar than water. Soda has caffeine while water and juice do not.
Do not wait until you feel thirsty. It may already mean that you may be slightly dehydrated.