Essentials of Nutrition Series: Water

Posted April 21, 2010 by

Water, the “elixir of life,” makes up about 75% of our bodies and is critical to our survival. Our muscles, brain, blood, lymphatic tissues, joints, etc. are very much dependent on ample amounts of water to keep them operating smoothly. Water regulates our body temperature, keeps our skin healthy and helps with digestion. To top it off, water aids in weight loss.

Despite these countless benefits, chronic dehydration is quite common in today’s society. Most people don’t drink nearly enough water, yet ironically are more concerned with stopping water retention (water weight that is under the skin, causing a bloated appearance) than getting the appropriate amount of fluid each day. Yet, the two are not mutually exclusive, and with a closer look we can identify how and why you can accomplish a large part of your aesthetic and health goals simultaneously, simply by drinking more water.

Most people think they drink enough water, but are often unknowingly suffering from symptoms of dehydration on a daily basis.  These symptoms include:

  • constipation
  • fatigue/energy loss
  • digestive disorders
  • gastritis/stomach ulcers
  • high and low blood pressure
  • eczema
  • excess weight/obesity
  • respiratory troubles
  • acid-alkaline imbalance
  • cholesterol
  • cystitis/urinary infections
  • rheumatism
  • premature aging

Do you suffer from one or more of these symptoms?  You may have assumed it was simply “the way you naturally feel,” but could be a sign of dehydration. One of the most intriguing is thirst’s role in excess weight gain—the body often confuses hunger with thirst, particularly when craving foods for their water content when dehydrated. This can lead to overeating and, you guessed it, a gain in body fat.

Now that you know that it is essential to drink enough water, exactly how much water should you be drinking? The US Food and Nutrition Board recommends eight servings of eight-ounce glasses of water per day for the average person. However, studies have shown that active folks need to drink more water, since they sweat more during exercise. If you exercise, you should be drinking a minimum of 96 ounces (three quarts) of water per day, plus 20-40 ounces per hour of exercise, and increase this even more if you live in a hot climate. Finally, if you’re overweight, you should drink an additional eight ounces of water per 25 lbs you carry over your ideal weight.

I know what you’re thinking—all this amounts to a lot of water! It’s true, but you will find that as you increase your intake of water, your body will adjust and it will become easier and you’ll be thirsty a lot more often. The easiest way to get amount you need each day in is to drink a full 16-20 ounce glass with each meal and to bring a bottle with you to the gym when you work out.

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