The importance of hydration
May 20, 2016, Jules Shapiro
60% of your body is water. Let’s talk about the importance of hydration. Hydration is the key to good health. “How much water should I drink every day?”
There is no single standard to tell you how much water is right for everyone. Remember, we are all precious snowflakes. Everybody is different. Every body is different; every body requires a different daily intake of water. For the sake of discussion we are going to use the term “water”, but remember, you may hydrate in many safe ways such as juice, coffee, and water. And, importantly, the amount of water you need depends on the amount of water you use.
What does water do?
Used by every organ, by every system, and every cell of your body; water is important. Your brain is 90% water. Water is used to flush toxins from your body. Water is the vehicle by which cells receive nutrients. Your lungs are 83% water. The moisture that is so important in the role of shock absorber for your joints and brain comes from water. Water creates the shock absorber used for a fetus in pregnant women. Even the food you eat needs water to carry nutrients to the bloodstream.
Water is important. When you don’t have enough water, there are vital organs and systems in your body that suffer from thirst.
Where does all of the water go?
Each day we lose quart and a half of water by breathing. Over the course of a day, our vital bodily functions cause us lose three quarts of water. Other than breathing, when we flush toxins we are flushing water down the toilet as urine. We also perspire, thus losing water through our skin.
By percentage, people with more fatty tissue have less water that those with less fatty tissue. Women carry less water than men carry.
What it feels like to be dehydrated.
Dehydration begins with thirst. Thirst causes dry mouth; dry mouth causes bad breath.
Sometimes early dehydration will mask itself as hunger. Dehydration can cause fatigue, dry eyes, decreased urine output, headache, dizziness, and dry skin. When you are dehydrated, you may also become constipated.
As you become further dehydrated, you will, of course, become more thirsty. You will have little or no urination. If you do urinate it will be very dark.
Dehydration will cause sunken eyes and “tenting” of the skin. Tenting means your skin will not bounce back. When you pinch it like a tent at the top of your middle knuckle, it will stay in that pinched position. (Like a tent, get it?)
Your blood pressure drops and your heart rate increases.
Extreme dehydration can cause fever, confusion, and you may lose consciousness.
Do not wait for thirst to tell you that you are becoming dehydrated. The color of your urine is your first, best warning sign. Your urine should be the color of straw. If your urine is dark in color, then you are most likely in need of liquids.
Dehydration and Illness
The chronically ill can be especially susceptible to dehydration. Our illnesses can cause vomiting or diarrhea, as can our medications. It may be easy to forget to fill your glass or water bottle when you are forced to spend a day in bed or on the couch.
These are not issues unique to the chronically ill. Anyone who finds themselves unable to keep food or liquids down for 24 hours should be vigilant about avoiding dehydration. Because you get liquids from the food you eat as well as liquids, it is important to contact a physician if you have either diarrhea or vomiting for 24 hours.
So, Really, How Much?
Have you ever heard the rule “8 in 8”? It means drink eight, (eight ounces) glasses of water every eight hours. This rule while easy to remember is not backed up by any hard science. According to The Mayo Clinic, the expression should be reframed to say “Drink eight eight-ounce glasses of fluid a day” since any fluid counts toward the total.
Everyone’s need for water is different. Your activity level may cause you to require more water. The more active you are, the more water you will need. If you live in a climate that causes you to perspire more (hot or humid), then drink more.
Certain illnesses may require that you increase your liquid intake while others will require that you decrease intake. Ask your doctor about liquid intake if you are diagnosed with heart, liver, kidney or adrenal conditions.
Drink 2 hours before, during, and 2 hours after exercise. Drink 2-4 oz. during meals, and drink between meals.
You are not stuck just drinking water. There are many sources of hydration. Spinach is 90% water, as is watermelon (hence the name). Many fruits are excellent sources of hydration. Stock up on milk, juice, coffee, and tea.
Feeling adventurous? Cut up fruit or a cucumber or even some herbs. Mix your fruit and ice cubes into a pitcher and set a goal to finish the pitcher. Finish it up, fill it up, do it again. The fruit is a much less expensive way to flavor your water than those expensive flavored waters in the grocery store!
So, bottoms up! Here is to your health.
Your donation helps The Chronically Awesome Foundation support the needs of the chronically ill. By helping us, you help the chronically ill learn to “swap illness for awesome.” Your tax deductible donation not only keeps the lights on, but it also allows us to start new projects to further our mission.