Water. Whether bottled, straight from your tap or garden hose, the ocean or a stream, water is an essential component to human life. Without water, your internal organs would be unable to function. Imagine this - you purchase a fresh pineapple and a bag of dried pineapple from your local grocer. Upon inspection of the fresh pineapple, you see that the fresh pineapple is juicy and appears to have cells that are “plump” and bounce back after touched. The dried pineapple (although it is amazingly yummy) has shriveled to nearly half of the size of a fresh round of pineapple and appears tough and uneasily torn or altered. This is due to dehydration – the cells in your body act the same way without essential daily water intake.
Water for Basic Function
Here’s the hype –
1. Water and your kidneys are best buds! They work together to filter all of the bad chemicals and waste products both ingested by us (gasp!) and made by the cells in our bodies. In order to expel the urea and uric acid from your body, it must be dissolved in water to be carried out of your body. WebMD suggests that adults should make 7 to 12 trips to the restroom daily!
2. Ever wondered how your metabolism and digestion work? Well, the process starts with, you guessed it, WATER!
3. Your blood is made up of water. (In fact, the average human adult body is comprised of 60-70% of water.) The water in your blood carries essential oxygen and nutrients to your cells so they can function properly.
4. Have those days when you are “feeling your age?” Water helps to keep joints in your body, including those in your spine lubricated so you can move more freely and without pain!
5. Water lubricates the tissues in your lungs so you can inhale and exhale freely.
6. Sweat. Yeah, it’s ugly and if you are here in the south and am a woman, you “glisten,” but bottom line, the reason we perspire is to cool our body down. Yep, that perspiration is pretty much all water!
How Much Should I Drink per Day?
Although there are varying schools of thought, the tried and true 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water per day cannot hurt! If plan to or are working out, you will want to increase your water consumption because chances are, your cells will be working harder than if you were just sitting behind your desk. Think about upping your water intake when you take the dog for a walk, garden and even chase the kids in the park.
Do I Need to Drink More for Weight Loss?
From a personal standpoint, I feel better (maybe it’s just psychosomatic) when I remember to drink decent amounts of water per day. I feel hydrated and find that I can push just a little harder in the gym. If I don’t drink enough, I find myself sluggish and tired throughout the day and evening.
According to “Dr. Howard Flaks, a bariatric (obesity) specialist in Beverly Hills, California, says, ‘By not drinking enough water, many people incur excess body fat, poor muscle tone and size, decreased digestive efficiency and organ function, increased toxicity in the body, joint and muscle soreness and water retention.’ (http://www.naturodoc.com/library/nutrition/water.htm)” Coming from someone who sees obese patients all day long, that’s reason enough to get my water in!
Water during Exercise… Will I Increase my Fitness Level just by Drinking Water?
I wish that I could say “Poof! You drink water and now you have the fitness level of an 18 year old athlete although you are 50 and in poor health.” The truth – No. Drinking water alone will NOT increase your fitness level. However, there is a silver lining! Drinking water during exercise will help stave off dehydration that often occurs during rigorous physical activity. Thus, you feel better during your workout and are more apt to lift harder, do an extra set or push yourself a little further. All of these equal more calories burned!
Other Sources of Water
Water from Food
Water is abundant in the foods that we enjoy. In fact, WebMD suggests that the average adult drinks about 80% of their total water intake and ingests, from food, approximately 20% of their water intake. With 1.5 cup servings,
Iceberg Lettuce – 95% Water
Watermelon – 92% Water
Broccoli – 91% Water
Water from Sports Drinks, Colas, Coffee and Teas
There is no evidence to suggest (at least that I could find) to suggest that your body uses the water from these drinks differently than that of pure, unaltered water. HOWEVER, keep these things in mind:
Sports Drinks – contain added sugars and electrolytes. Although you may be in the middle of strenuous exercise and need those nutrients, changes are you will likely drink these as you drive in traffic, with a meal, etc. Skip the sugar – go for pure H20!
Colas – most cola not only contain added sugars, but also caffeine. Caffeine is a known diuretic that helps your body to expel water from cells. This can have adverse effects on hydration, causing your body to become dehydrated instead of hydrated.
Coffee and Tea – Just as with the cola, coffee and tea contains caffeine, which is a diuretic.
I heard a saying once that if you drink an 8-ounce cola, coffee or tea, you would want to follow it with an 8-ounce glass of water to ensure your body is hydrated. Not scientifically based, but a good rule of thumb.