Our bodies are made up of about 60 percent water. With that number, you’d think we wouldn’t need more. However, water is a necessary daily part of a healthy lifestyle. We know from advertising that “milk does a body good,” but what about water? What are its benefits?
Water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ears, nose and throat issues. Normal bodily functions like breathing, perspiration, urine and bowel movements makes us lose water and we must replace what we lose.
Many foods have water as their contents, but in order not to dehydrate, we must add water to stay healthy. The old standard is 8 glasses of 8 ounces, or a gallon of water daily. That amount holds true today for the average person.
Being even slightly dehydrated—as little as 2 percent of normal fluid loss—takes a toll on energy levels, says Amy Goodson, RD, a dietitian for Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine. Dehydration causes a reduction in blood volume, explains Goodson, which makes the blood thicker. This requires your heart to pump less efficiently, reducing the speed at which oxygen and nutrients reach your muscles and organs. To calculate your normal fluid needs, take your weight in pounds, divide in half and drink that number of ounces of fluid a day, Goodson recommends.
If you plan to be active, however, plan to drink more water. An extra 1.5 to 2.5 cups of water will be ok for short bouts of exercise. A more intense workout requires you drink more water. If you sweat a lot, drink even more water.
During these hot days toward the end of summer, yes, you got it! Drink more water! Don’t think you can slow down your water intake as the days and nights get cooler. Heated indoor air can cause your skin to lose moisture, so drink up!
But you find water to be boring. What about other drinks and foods? Can they replace the water we take in for good health? Yes, but not replace it. On average, food provides about 20 percent of total water intake. Many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, celery, and spinach are high in water by weight.
An occasional beer, glass of tea, or can of soda—in moderation—will contribute to your total fluid intake. A word of warning: these beverages are not free of calories. Consider adding a wedge of lemon or lime or other fruit to give your water a subtle taste without adding calories. Cucumber slices in iced cold water are still a great way to cool down on a hot’s summer’s day.
Finally, just in case you were wondering if you could over hydrate, yes, you can. This is called hyponatremia, which means your kidneys are unable to excrete the excess water, the electrolyte (mineral) content of the blood is diluted and results in low sodium levels in the blood. However, the average person on a normal day will not consume too much water to be healthy.
So, drink to your health!