By Shayna Pascoe
Hydration: the process of causing something to absorb water. Water is the source and the basis of life. Over two-thirds of the earth is made up of water and the human body is composed of about 60% water. It literally surrounds us and makes us, but the question is…WHY IS WATER IMPORTANT?
The human body needs water for many reasons (Mayo 2014):
-Water helps flush toxins out of vital organs
-Water helps nutrients get carried to cells for proper functioning
-Water provides a moist environment for ear, nose, and throat tissues for breathing
-Water is involved in every type of cellular process, including metabolism
SO WHY IS HYDRATION IMPORTANT?
Without the proper amount of water, the body’s normal functions become impossible to perform. This is the process of dehydration. Dehydration can result in fever, diarrhea, and/or vomiting (Laskey 2015). Water helps with so many problems our bodies feel, such as hunger, headaches, soreness, and weariness. Drinking water helps maintain the homeostasis within the body so that all the organs and
muscles are happy! A simple solution to the many problems our bodies face can be resolved with simply drinking more water.
It’s hard to see the signs that our bodies need water, it’s usually later than we’d like. The feeling of thirst is actually an indicator that our body has already been deprived of water. Our blood pressure also raises if the body isn’t replenished with the proper amount of liquids. Another indicator is urine color—the lighter or clearer the urine is, the more hydrated a person is; on the other hand, the darker or more yellow the urine, the more dehydrated a person is.
All of our organs depend on staying moist and using water to pass along substances to other parts of the body. The lungs need to stay moist to breathe air in and out. The heart needs water to make up our blood plasma to help transport many substances throughout the body. The kidneys, liver, and intestines use water to help flush out waste in the body (Laskey 2015). Water is essential for all bodily functions.
HOW MUCH WATER SHOULD WE DRINK?
Because there are so many functions, it’s important to get the proper amount of water. We lose water every single day through our breath, precipitation, urine, and bowel movements. Since so much water is leaving the body, it means we need to replenish it. The old rule is get 8-8 ounces of water. This is a very broad rule, but easy to remember.
Since then, we understand that our water needs are dependent on many factors: your health, how active you are, and where you live to name a few (Mayo 2014). If you’re sick, you tend to lose even more fluids and need more water. If you are exercising, the body is moving and demands more oxygen and blood in the muscles; more water is needed to help this process and to prevent soreness. With intense exercise, a sports drink or snack with high-water content would be needed to replenish what the precipitation lost. If you live in hot or humid weather, you would need more water as well to maintain body temperature.
When a person is not drinking the proper amount of water, it is quite difficult to lose weight. For those who don’t drink enough, drinking more water could actually bring them closer to their weight goals. Without water flushing out toxins and nutrients fully, it gets stored within the body.
The Institute of Medicine had stated men should have around 13 cups of water and women around 9 cups of water per day. Again, the exact number is all relevant to each person’s lifestyle.
HYDRATING FOODS & EATING:
There are many foods that can help with water consumption. The food we consume actually contributes an average of around 20% of our overall water intake. Many fruits and vegetables have high-water content. Eating some of the following as snacks throughout the day can help the overall water intake:
Watermelon, Cucumbers, Iceberg Lettuce, Celery, Radishes, Tomatoes, Green Peppers, Cauliflower, Eggplants, Spinach, Starfruit, Strawberries, Broccoli, Grapefruit, Carrots, Cantaloupe, Pineapples, Cranberries, Oranges, and Raspberries (Macmillin, Srivastava).
Water can help with regulating body temperature, help with bowel movement, and help with metabolism. Our body constantly gives us signals that it needs water, we just need to know how to recognize it. Our brain sometimes confuses our need for hunger and our need for thirst. We may feel hungry, but try drinking water and see if that feeling is relieved. Drinking before meals could also help people lose weight. A study showed that people that drink a glass of water before their meal eats an average of 75 calories less calories per meal (Shaw 2009).
Sport drinks such as Gatorade are prescribed for post-workouts since the body needs to be replenished of nutrients that were lost, such as sodium. Some of the foods listed previously could be seen as better than water—in the realm of sport drinks—since it is combined with natural sugars and other important nutrients like amino acids (Srivastava).
Try to replace those other sugary beverages, like soda and coffee, with just a glass of water. Though it may technically have water, the sugar and other substances need to be flushed out with more water!
DRINK AND EAT YOUR WATER!
Just like a car needs gas, our bodies need water. Without it, we will burn out and just stop dead in our tracks. We are in constant need of water to help regulate all functions of the body. For the body not to work hard and stress to do everyday tasks, we need to make sure it has enough water. Water can be obtained through many sources, as listed above and many more! Make sure to take into account all the aspects of your life and from there decide how much water you actually need. To stay happy and healthy, drink more water!
To read more about dehydration, visit the National Library of Medicine’s site:
To get more tips on how to stay hydrated, visit WebMD’s page:
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/top- 10-ways- to-stay- hydrated
We need water to live, thrive, and survive.
Laskey, Jen (2015). “The health benefits of water.”
Mayo Clinic Staff (2014). “Water: How much should you drink every day?”
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition- and-healthy- eating/in-depth/water/art- 20044256
Mayo Clinic Staff (2016). “Dehydration.”
MacMillin, Amanda (2016). “15 Foods that help you stay hydrated.”
Shaw, Gina (2009). “Water and your diet: Staying slim and regular with H20.” WebMD.
http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/water-for- weight-loss- diet#1
Srivastava, Mala “Lists of fruits & vegetables with a high-water content.” SFGate
http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/list-fruits- vegetable-high- water-content- 8958.html
About the Author:
Shayna graduated from Saint Mary’s College of California with a B.A. in Kinesiology. She has been working as a Physical Therapy Aide in multiple clinics. She has worked with patients for preventative reasons as well as post-injury. Shayna enjoys being goofy and helping others remind themselves to take on any task one step at a time and to with a smile on her face. She is a lover of all sports, but basketball and the Golden State Warriors are her passion. She has participated in Tough Mudder and plans on doing it again. She loves taking hikes and going on adventures in nature, especially for the post-hike meal.