My buddy Barb over at Skittles Place runs the fabulous Heads or Tails Tuesday, and I always find them really thoughtful and enjoyable. Barb tells us we should “think outside the box”. This week the theme is anything that starts with “O”. My first thought really did start with O, and was funny, but opted for something a little more…um..mainstream and am gonna talk to you about H2O.
With summer upon us, everyone is constantly talking about drinking water and staying hydrated. But do you realize how much water you actually need, and why? What water does for the body? And what it CAN do for the body??? Well, here we go.
How much water do you really need, and why. Depending on your weight and gender, the human body is made up of about 65% water. The brain is comprised of over 90% water. It takes less than a 2% drop in our bodies water level before we start to show signs of dehydration. Headaches, blurry vision, loss of short term memory, etc. Extreme loss can lead to muscle cramping and weakness, fainting, and even death. The water in our bodies is necessary for function of major organs, muscles and blood volume. The easiest way to determine the amount of water needed each day for healthy life function is to take your weight (up to 200 lbs) and divide it by 2. That means that an average person of 170 lbs would need 85 oz of water every day just to keep the body functioning at optimum health. This does NOT include soft drinks, sports drinks, coffee, tea, etc. All of these beverages cause a different effect on the body, which I’ll go into later, but basically, the body perceives these liquids as a “food” as they have added chemicals, sugars, etc. that require a separate type of processing. Now, that may sound like a lot of water to consume in a day, but the easiest way is to get yourself a pitcher or water bottle, fill it first thing in the morning with your required amount of water, and drink from it during the day. Do the same for the kids, get them a colorful water bottle of their very own to encourage them.
What about sports drinks. Sports drinks were created for athletes who were working out under grueling conditions and sweating profusely. Sports drinks provide potassium and minerals which replace those lost during extreme workouts. They are not meant to be used by average people as a daily beverage. Increased consumption of these beverages can cause increased potassium levels, causing health problems. Additionally, the sugar contained in these drinks adds empty calories and causes health problems.
What type of water? Of course, the easiest water is that which comes right out of the tap. However, that can provide health problems of its own. Studies have shown that the amount of antibiotics contained in average drinking water is reaching dangerous levels. A home water filter system, whether it be a whole house, pitcher or faucet type is the best defense. Depending on the system, you can spend several thousand dollars or under 50. Find the system that works best for your family. I prefer an RO system (reverse osmosis) and if you are interested in more information, please contact me. I find that they are the least expensive and most functional. Bottled water, when purchased, should be spring, not distilled. Distilled water is “dead” water (equivalent of boiled water) and among other things has a very flat taste.
Water for weight management. When the body doesn’t receive it’s necessary amount of water daily, it “hangs on” to the water it already has. This causes a decrease in urine production and perspiration, which also causes an increase in toxins in the system. It also causes bloating and “water weight gain”. Increasing the amount of water consumed helps to flush the body of toxins, which has been shown to have a decrease in certain types of cancers. Many times we feel hungry it is actually our body trying to let us know we’re thirsty. Increasing water intake can decrease our hunger level, allowing us to eat less. Consuming just one 8 oz glass of water BEFORE eating can decrease our hunger level, allowing us to eat less. Increasing water consumption combined with moderate exercise, even walking, can be the easiest form of weight loss available. Many people tell me that they don’t drink water because it makes them go to the bathroom. Yes, it does, because that’s it’s purpose. I realize that this isn’t always convenient, but is necessary for the body’s health and function. Part of the reason is that when you first start to increase your water is that they body is not used to it, and will allow it to pass through, holding on to the water it already has. Once the body becomes used to having a steady supply, it will allow the “old” water to pass through (you will notice because the urine will become darker and have an unpleasant odor) and begin to use the fresh water you are introducing. Once you reach a steady level, the urine production will level out as well.
Year round health. We often think of drinking more water in the summer when it’s hot, but it is equally important year round. During the winter it is necessary to keep water consumption up due to the dry air both outdoors and in. It is as easy to become dehydrated in the winter as in the summer. And with the lack of fresh vegetables, we receive less water from food sources. Increasing water in the winter also keeps the body warmer, since we function more effectively.
Drink coffee? Make sure you drink 1 8 oz glass of water for EACH cup of coffee consumed. Same for alcoholic beverages. Not only does that cut down on the amount you may drink (since you’ll feel fuller) but will most times prevent a hangover (since hangovers are mostly caused from dehydration!) Acne? Increase water to remove toxins from the colon.
Make today the day you take control of your health and increase your water intake. You’ll be glad you did.