Hydration – More Important Than You Think
Jun 8, 2021|
Have you ever noticed that some folks will down a couple of shots, (in 2 seconds) or guzzle a 12- ounce stein of beer (in 15 minutes) and then spend the next 45 minutes sipping on an 8-oz glass of water? What’s up with that? There are people who literally do not like water which follows air as the most important grouping of atoms necessary to keep us alive!
You can survive for several weeks without food. Mahatma Ghandi at age 74 went without food for three weeks; Irish political prisoner Bobby Sands died after 66 days on a hunger strike. They both ingested water though. Without it, they would have died within three days. Why is that?
Our body weight is approximately 60% water which is used in all cells, organs and tissues to regulate temperature and maintain bodily functions. Water is lost and through the metabolic processes of breathing, sweating and digestion and must consistently be replenished.
And that’s not all! Water keeps tissues in the body moist and helps to maintain appropriate levels of moisture in your eyes, nose, mouth, blood, bones and brain. Water also helps to protect the spinal cord and acts as a lubricant and cushion for your joints
Do I need to continue in my quest to extol the virtues of aqua? Ok. Keep reading:
- It enables your body to eliminate waste through perspiration, defecation and urination
- The kidneys, liver and intestines use it to flush out waste
- It moves food through your intestinal tract
- Prevents constipation by softening your stools
- Prevents dehydration which can put you at risk for bladder infections and urinary tract stones
What happens during prolonged dehydration?
First of all, by the time feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Research is showing that as little as 1% dehydration has a negative effect on your mood, memory and motor coordination. It also appears that brain tissue fluid decreases which may reduce brain volume and temporarily affects cell function. It doesn’t end there:
- Blood becomes more viscous (concentrated)
- Kidneys retain water and you urinate less
- Strain is placed on your cardiovascular system as it works harder to increase blood pressure by elevating heart rate
- Temperature regulation goes out of whack which can cause hyperthermia or a body temperature dangerously above normal
- When exercising or faced with heat stress, the risk of exhaustion and/or collapse increases
A loss of 10% of total body water causes physical and mental deterioration accompanied by severe thirst. Death occurs at a loss of between 15% and 25% of body water.
Can you drink too much water?
Yes! It’s rare and it’s called water intoxication. It happens when you drink more water than your kidneys can remove causing too much water to remain in the bloodstream. Most often, endurance athletes are most at risk because they drink large amounts of water before and during events.
Drinking too much water or not having a way to remove it can cause water levels to build up which dilutes important substances in your blood.
You may not recognize symptoms of water intoxication in its early stages. As the condition progresses, common symptoms include:
changes in mental state such as confusion and/or disorientation
Untreated water intoxification can lead to dangerously low levels of sodium in your blood. This can cause more severe symptoms, such as:
muscle weakness, spasms, or cramps
Sooo…how much water do you need?
We’ve heard that 8 8-oz glasses is all we need to maintain proper hydration. But that depends on a number of things like how active you are, where you live (is it very hot or humid), your size in general.
Some camps say to divide you weight in half and drink that amount of water in ounces. Others suggest that you’ve had enough water to drink when your urine is pale. The important thing to keep in mind is to drink often and stay ahead of feeling thirsty or having dry mouth. Remember, you’re already dehydrated by this time.
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