Think of water as a nutrient your body needs that is present in liquids, plain water, and foods. All of these are essential on a daily basis to replace the large amounts of water lost each day.
Water is an important element for so many different reasons. Let’s start with the human body. We’re made up of about 50-75% water depending on body composition. Water is responsible for a multitude of different body functions. Some of those include:
As you can clearly see from the above, water plays a vital role in nearly every bodily function. The lack of water consumption is thought to be the #1 trigger for daytime fatigue. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy, short-term memory, trouble with basic math and difficulty focusing on simple if not complicated tasks during the day.
PROPER DIGESTION, NUTRIENT ABSORPTION & CHEMICAL REACTIONS
Water is essential for proper digestion, nutrient absorption and chemical reactions. The carbohydrates and proteins that our bodies use as food are metabolized and transported by water in the bloodstream. No less important is the ability of water to transport waste material out of our bodies.
Water is also important for proper circulation in the body. The levels of oxygen in the bloodstream are greater when the body is well hydrated. The more oxygen the body has readily available, the more fat it will burn for energy. Without the presence of oxygen the body cannot utilize stored fat for energy efficiently. Not only will the body burn more fat when well hydrated but because there are increased oxygen levels you will also have more energy.
Water helps remove toxins from the body, in particular from the digestive tract. Water suppresses the appetite naturally and helps the body metabolize stored fat. Studies have shown that a decrease in water intake will cause fat deposits to increase, while an increase in water intake can actually reduce fat deposits.
Adequate water intake enables your body to excrete waste through perspiration, urination, and defecation. The kidneys and liver use it to help flush out waste, as do your intestines. Water can also keep you from getting constipated by softening your stools and helping move the food you’ve eaten through your intestinal tract. However, it should be noted that there is no evidence to prove that increasing your fluid intake will cure constipation.
Water regulates the body’s cooling system. Sports drinks are useful when consumed after or during vigorous and prolonged exercise in high heat. But most experts agree that water works better than carbohydrates or sugared beverages for moderate exercise. For instance, if you drink 12 ounces of plain water, your body will absorb 8 ounces of it within 15 minutes.
As an added benefit, If you are among the many that is seeking to lose a few pounds, proper hydration needs to be a mainstay in your daily routine. Aside from nourishing the body before, during and after any physical activity, we should be tracking our water intake throughout the day. This is very important as the proper amount of water consumption can help our metabolism to operate at the required capacity while suppressing the desire to overeat.
The level to which we physically exert ourselves has a direct correlation with our water intake. As we exercise or perform anything strenuous, our bodies will naturally expel water, which means this must be compensated for. A good rule of thumb for this is for every 30 minutes of exercise add 10-16 ounces of water, depending on your size. More on this below!
Side Note: in 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger. In a University of Washington study one glass of water shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied.
Even though coffee & tea have many health benefits, you need to remember that they are still “Diuretics”! For all of the water benefits you get from them both, they are quickly lost by the body because of their diuretic characteristics. In short, please don’t look to coffee or tea to help get you to your required daily intake of water.
There’s no hard and fast rule, and many individuals meet their daily hydration needs by simply drinking water when they’re thirsty, according to a report on nutrient recommendations from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. In fact, most people who are in good physical health get enough fluids by drinking water and other beverages when they’re thirsty, and also by drinking a beverage with each of their meals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A simple rule that I tend to use for myself and most of my clients is taking your body weight and dividing it in half, and the result is the amount of ounces of water that you intake on a daily basis. If you exercise on a daily basis or do other strenuous activities you may want to increase your water intake to about 2/3 of your body weight. In other words if you’re a 200 lb. person you would consume approximately 133 oz. of water per day.
Remember, the above are only estimates. Your daily water intake can and will depend on a variety of factors, including the climate you live in, how physically active you are, your current nutrition level and whether you’re experiencing an illness or have any other health problems. Another thing to always consider is if you currently have a healthy and balanced nutrition plan, then you will more than likely get 20% of your daily water intake from this plan. So make sure you adjust your water intake accordingly! Make sure you consult with your doctor about your water intake if you’re currently ill.
Warning: There have been rare instances when people actually drink too much water.
Low blood sodium occurs when water and sodium are out of balance. In other words, there’s either too much water or not enough sodium. This is known as Hyponatremia. Sodium is an essential electrolyte that helps maintain the balance of water in and around your cells. Sodium is important for proper muscle and nerve function. It also helps to maintain stable blood pressure levels. So remember, sometimes too much of a good thing is not good!