Why do we need water? It’s simple! Water is essential to life in every way, although we often take it for granted in our daily diet and exercise. The human body cannot function properly during periods of dehydration, so today we are looking at the many benefits of water and the effect that it has on our daily lives!
Water is present in every living cell, tissue, and organ in our body, making up over half of the human body in healthy adults. In addition to transporting oxygen and vital nutrients into the bloodstream, water is also responsible cleansing the body of toxic build-ups, maintaining joint fluidity, cushioning the internal organs and spinal cord, and regulating body temperature. Certain vitamins and minerals may also help to increase the flow of water throughout our bodies to improve overall health.
According to the Institute of Medicine, the average adult male requires approximately 3 liters (or 0.8 gallons) of water per day, while the average adult female requires approximately 2.2 liters (or 0.58 gallons)1. Other external factors may affect our water needs, and require us to increase the amount of liquid that we consume on a daily basis. These include the environment around us, our level of physical exertion, some forms of illness or fever, pregnancy or breastfeeding, and other potential causes. It is important to adjust our water intake accordingly in order to meet these needs.
There are several potential signs that you might be dehydrated. It is important to address these needs immediately, or consult a physician immediately if the problem persists.
The first and most obvious sign is that of thirst as accompanied by a dry mouth. This is your body’s way of telling you that it is time to drink more water before dehydration sets in. A decrease in overall urine output along with a dark discoloration should also serve as early warning signs. Other possible indications may include fatigue, muscle cramps, hunger, or even a headache. Severe cases of dehydration may result in an increased heart rate brought on by lowered blood pressure, followed by a state of dementia. Individuals experiencing these later symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.
Getting the water you need is easy! A few simple steps can help you remember to continue consuming water throughout the day in order to fight the effects of dehydration:
- One easy-to-remember suggestion is to drink 8oz of water eight times a day (8×8) in order to help meet these needs in addition to the standard foods that we eat2. Wearing rubber bands around the wrist and removing one for each 8oz of water that you consume can make this even easier!
- Always keep a water bottle close by, especially in warmer climates, on the way to and from the gym, or during endurance exercise.
- Reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake. Alcohol and caffeine each posses diuretic properties that cause an overall increase in urination, decreasing the body’s natural ability to reabsorb or retain water.
- Replace other drink options with water at home and on the go to not only rehydrate, but to cut back on empty calories!
Remember, drink plenty of water to help maintain a healthy lifestyle!
*DISCLAIMER: The above description is provided for information only and does not constitute medical advice. Please consult your physician or the appropriately licensed professional before engaging in a program of exercise or nutritional supplementation. No information in this site has been reviewed by the FDA. No product is intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any disease.
1. Dietary reference intakes for water, potassium, sodium, chloride and sulfate. Institute of Medicine. http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/DRI//DRI_Water/73-185.pdf. Accessed March 2, 2010.
2. Valtzin H. “Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.” Really? Is there scientific evidence for 8 x 8? American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 2002;283:R993.
3. Sawka M, et al. Human water needs. Nutrition Reviews 2005;63:S30.
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8. Rose BD, et al. Maintenance and replacement fluid therapy in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed March 2, 2010.
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Image Attribution: Drop of Water by JosÃ© Manuel SuÃ¡rez, http://flickr.com/photos/47918845@N00/2631718740 CC by 2.0.