The body is made of 55%-75% water, that’s why hydration is one of the top necessities of the human body. Under optimal conditions, the body can survive 30 days without food but only 4-10 days without water. Hydration is especially important to the athlete or average gym-goer because of massive sweat losses. If sweat losses aren’t replaced, the body cannot function as it goes into dehydration mode.
Fluid balance is essential to regulate body temperature, transport nutrients throughout the body, digest food, etc. Without water acting as a nutrient transport, body cells aren’t able to utilize these nutrients to function properly.
Detox! Water acts as a “detox” tool because it flushes toxins out of the body either through the digestive or urinary tract, and helps filter out the kidneys and liver. Nothing gets digestion flowing quite like water does because the it adds fluid to the colon to make things move smoothly.
Better calorie control can be accomplished through drinking more water because it helps you feel full without consuming any calories. It becomes a secret weapon for weight loss and dietary control for restricted diets.
Fight Fatigue. Water fuels the muscles the same way food does. When muscles begin to lose water, especially during exercise, (ah, sweat) they begin to fatigue. To power through the day better or to get through a workout without tiring out in the last mile or last set, drink some water to reenergize those muscles. It’ll also prevent aching muscles, joints, and prevent muscle strains, which is often associated with dehydration.
Not only does dehydration cause tired muscles, but also a tired mind. Occasionally that daily cup of coffee doesn’t do the trick and you feel like you could just crawl right back into bed. You’re probably dehydrated so try for a glass of water, or two, or maybe even three. It’ll improve your ability to focus and stay alert. Coffee worsens dehydration anyway.
Hangover Relief. Just like coffee, alcohol dehydrates the body. Helping a hangover with water will rehydrate the body and lessen a headache. And that overall groggy and tired feeling.
Water provides cold support while it transports nutrients throughout the body. Body cells need extra nutrient supplies to help them work properly and combat sickness, and a little extra water can boost this process along.
Signs of Dehydration
Nausea, dry mouth, poor concentration, dizziness, headache, increased thirst, decreased or increased urination, dark yellow urine, lethargy (confusion), and increased or rapid heart rate. Make sure to be aware of these signs. If any of these appear, you’ll know how to nip them in the bud. Drink up, Bottoms up!
Risks associated with Dehydration
Dehydration can quickly accelerate into rising body temperatures, leading to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and in worst cases death. Fluid losses are measured by decreases in body weight and losses even as little as 1% of total body weight can be associated with an elevation of core body temperature, which can damage the organs and tissues. Fluid loss of 3-5% of total body weight results in cardiovascular strain and impaired ability to dissipate heat. At 7% of total body weight lost can lead to collapse. So on, and so forth. Fluid losses, especially during sweat while exercising can cause detrimental affects on the body.
Electrolytes play a crucial role in the regulation of water distribution throughout the body. These electrolytes include: sodium, potassium, and chloride as well as minerals magnesium and calcium. Sodium has a major role in fluid regulation while potassium, chloride, and magnesium are essential for nerve conduction and muscle contraction. Any fluid imbalances can disturb body functions and physical performance.
A person’s water requirement is the volume required to replace urine losses. The adequate intake for water as set by the Food and Nutrition Board for total water intake (ages 19-30 years) is 3.7 L for men and 2.7 L for women. That’s about 7-8 16 oz water bottles for men and 5-6 16 oz water bottles for women.
For the active person, there are increased fluid requirements. It is especially encouraged to increase hydration while participating in hot or humid environments.
Before a Physically Active Session: Intake should be approximately 16 fl oz (.5 L) of a cool beverage 2 hours before session.
During Session: Intake should be frequent. 6-8 fl oz every 15 minutes. When intensity increases, intake more frequently. If signs of dehydration like increased thirst or dry mouth appear, drink more frequently. Keep fluids readily available because the thirst mechanism doesn’t function well when large amounts of water are lost.
After a Physically Active Session: Replenish fluids with at least 16 oz (.5 L) of fluid for every pound of body weight lost. The ideal fluid replacement drink depends on the duration and intensity of the session as well as the environmental temperature and the athlete. In the case of excessive sweating or extreme electrolyte loss, opt for a sports drink or coconut water instead of plain water.
Stay hydrated, drink up!