Happy National Hydration Day!
Water is required for life.
It is a natural resource that is required by every person to help satisfy our health-related needs. This includes our body composition, mental focus, sleep and recovery. It is evident that water is one of the key elements responsible for human life on earth and is vital for our survival. The human brain is composed of 95% water, lungs are 90%, blood is 83%, muscles are 76%, and bones are 22% water. These percentages are rigorous proof of the importance of H2O in our bodies to maintain favorable health. However, most people drink below their daily recommended quota. Even though people are aware of the health benefits of water, many fall short of the eight glasses a day, causing an alarming rise in the number of dehydrated individuals. In this article, we will explore the depths of knowledge on this important nutrient, objectively showing you the importance of water in your body.
The science behind hydration
When you take in water as fast as you lose it, you create a balance between the water reservoirs in the body. We remain sensitive to the water balance in our blood system and are well equipped at replacing any daily fluids lost through bodily functions, including:
- Excretion: a person can lose a pint to several gallons of urine a day.
- Breathing: when we inhale, moisture is added to the air as it passes to our lungs. The humidified air is then lost, once we exhale and the amount of water lost depends on the levels of humidity of the air.
- Sweating: we lose an under a liter of water daily when it evaporates from the skin. This amount can increase dramatically when we sweat profusely due to vigorous workouts or high body temperature.
- Digestion: generally, we lose little water through the digestive tract. However, in the case of severe diarrhea and vomiting, a gallon or more can be lost.
Water consumption must balance water loss. If the body suffers from a water deficiency, the lymphatic system, the system that helps maintain fluid balance, makes sure essential cells stay hydrated at the cost of damage to less important ones, causing your body to perform less efficiently. Dehydration can cause a variety of symptoms including headaches, fatigue, lack of focus, dizziness, and in some severe cases, fainting.
Proper hydration does more than just quench your thirst. It has numerous benefits to your health.
- Water is the main component of blood, which supplies cells with oxygen and nutrients and carries waste out of the body.
- Water regulates internal body temperature. Through the process of sweat production and evaporation, one’s body can avoid overheating. The blood on the skin surface is cooled, and it carries this cooling effect to the body’s interior.
- Water lubricates joints.
- Water cushions vital organs
Proper hydration positively impacts your productivity. According to studies, proper hydration works to promote good mental health, which has a positive impact on overall cognitive function.
How can I stay hydrated?
With people becoming more aware of their health, proper eating habits and exercise routines have become more significant than ever. Despite this, we are all guilty of occasionally overlooking our need for hydration. Here are some tips and tricks to get you sipping.
- Spice it up. To add some excitement to your drink, add in combinations to your glass or reusable water bottle. Try adding natural flavors like herbs or fresh fruits.
- Eat your H2O. Eating water-rich foods is an effective way to increase your water intake. Make sure your grocery shopping list includes fruits and vegetables that have high water content. Some water-rich foods include watermelon, zucchini, cucumber, grapefruits, strawberries, and lettuce.
- Install a water drinking app on your smartphone. There are numerous water monitoring apps available such as Waterlogged, Hydro Coach, and many more that you can download on your Android or iOS device to help you keep track of your daily H2O intake.
- Drink water before you get thirsty. Thirst is a sign that your body is already dehydrated. Therefore, to avoid arriving at this point, remember to sip water throughout the day.
How much water should I drink every day?
There are various opinions on how much an individual's daily water intake should be, the most common being about two liters a day. However, many internal and external factors ultimately affect how much water one needs.
- Infants: A few sips throughout the day but not more than two ounces of water. Any more can fill up the little space they have for breast milk or formula.
- For children between the ages of 4 to 13: drink between 1 liter to 1.7 liters of water per day depending on their age and gender. This is approximately four to six cups of water a day. The difference in water intake is due to the different make up of our bodies, where males tend to have higher fat levels, hence requiring more water.
- For adults: Men need roughly 3 liters of water while women require 2.2 liters a day. That is roughly about 13 cups for men and 9 cups for women.
- For a pregnant woman: It is advisable to take 2.3 liters, about 9 cups, of fluid per day, which includes the daily recommended three glasses of milk or a calcium-rich soy drink.
- For the physically active: Take at least 2.7 liters, 11 cups of water, daily since strenuous physical activity, like going to the gym, can cause a rapid drop in fluid levels.
When is the optimal time to take in water?
There are certain times in the day that are best to hydrate to maximize the water's effectiveness on your body:
- After waking up to activate your internal body organs;
- Before taking a bath to lower blood pressure;
- Thirty minutes before eating to help in digestion and about an hour later to give the body time to absorb the food's nutrients;
- Before going to bed to account for any fluid loss as you sleep.
With these good hydration habits, you’ll have your metabolism running, energy up, digestion in check and skin glowing.