Nothing can be plainer than water, yet it is a vital source of life. It is an essential nutrient for us, and essential for all living things. Like the earths surface, our bodies are composed of roughly 60 to 70 per cent water. Blood is mostly water, and your muscles, lungs and brain are composed of 75%, 70% and 90% water respectively. We need water to regulate temperature and to provide the means for nutrients to travel to our organs. Water also transports oxygen to our cells, removes waste, and protects our joints. Yet many of us aren’t drinking enough fluids to keep us adequately hydrated. Although it makes sense that you would be thirsty if you needed water, thirst isn’t an indicator of hydration. By that time, lethargy, headaches, muscle cramps, or diminished performance are all warning signs that you might be mildly dehydrated.
Each day we need to replace 2.4 liters of water that we lose from breathing, sweating, and going to the bathroom. Broken down, we pee approximately 6.3 cups a day, plus another 4 cups of water through breathing, sweating and bowel movements. We can easily get 20% of the water we need through the food we eat. Fruits, for example, have more water than something dry like pretzels. The other 80% of fluid that you need comes from what you drink, and a little more than 8 cups, along with the food that you eat, will typically replace your lost fluids. In general, 8-9 cups is a good guideline, though variables such as your health, where you live and how active you are may vary person to person. A simple way to tell if you are dehydrated is that you don’t have to get up in the night to pee. ( Color should be clear )
Drink more water
I’ve always thought the title “drink more water” would be a no-brainer bestseller. Plain water fills you up. Researchers at Virginia Tech recently finished a 12 week study of 2 groups of people on the same diet. The only difference was that one group was told to drink 2 cups of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is no surprise that at the end of the study the water drinkers lost 30% more weight: 16 pounds to the 11 pound loss of the non-drinkers. The choices of waters with electrolytes, vitamins, sodium or caffeine is vast, and unless you are exercising for more than an hour, tap water, bottled or sparkling water is preferable, and slightly chilled, for increasing absorption. If you don’t really like water, try adding a squeeze of lime, lemon or fruit slices to make it more palatable.
If you like plain brewed coffee, don’t worry. Once considered questionable for your health, coffee is not as much a diuretic as once thought. It is, if you drink more than 4 cups a day, but recent research shows that not only does it provide liquid, but valuable antioxidants as well. If you regularly consume caffeine the body will regulate itself to any diuretic effect .If you are sensitive to caffeine, as it is a nervous system stimulant, there is a vast array of herbal teas, many with soothing and healing properties. Again, water is the probably the best, inexpensive and readily available choice for hydration.
As the temperatures drop this fall, and you stay active, remember to drink at least 2 cups of fluid approximately 2 hours before you exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you drink at least half a cup of water every 15 minutes during exercise. Whether you’re in spin class, hiking or practicing a vinyasa flow sequence, also drink another 2 cups of fluid for every pound you lose during exercise. A lot of water, I know, but it is the stuff of life. A simple prescription for a happy healthy hydrated life.
Connie Aronson is American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health and Fitness Specialist , currently in the Mediterranean Sea enjoying the water.