Updated: May 5, 2022
"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water"
As the season changes it is an excellent time to reevaluate our hydration! Like me, many of you will be transitioning to new activities as the spring and summer months offer us warmer weather. In the coming months, as we spend more time outside in the sun, it is important to focus on our water consumption. This is likely not the first time you have been encouraged to be mindful of your water intake; however, this may be the first time you learn just how important it is for your overall health and wellness.
Drinking water does much more than quench your thirst, it is essential for keeping your body functioning properly and for optimal health. Nearly all major systems in the body depend on water to function and survive. Consequently, hydration during physical activity also plays an important role in performance, injury prevention, and recovery.
Let’s take a look at 5 important questions!
1. HOW EXACTLY DOES WATER MOVE THROUGH THE BODY?
Most people don’t give a lot of thought to the journey water takes once it enters our body. Usually, we just drink our water because we know on some level that it is important for us. But, take a minute to visualize where the water goes and what it does after you take that first gulp.
After taking a sip, water travels through the esophagus and ends up in the stomach. Unlike food, water is ABSORBED, not digested. This absorption of water into the bloodstream begins in the stomach. The vast majority of the absorption happens after the water passes through the stomach and travels to the small intestine. Here the water absorbs through its walls and makes its way into the bloodstream. Now that the water is in the bloodstream it will travel to cells all over the body. The cells will use hydration to perform all of the daily functions effectively and efficiently.
2. WHY IS WATER SO IMPORTANT FOR THE HUMAN BODY?
First off, approximately 60% of the adult human body consists of water. According to the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the brain and the heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones contain 31% water.
As a result, the body needs water to be replenished regularly in order to perform several functions including:
Carrying nutrients and oxygen to all the cells in the body
Converting food into energy
Regulating body temperature
Protecting organs and tissues
Flushing out waste products
Allowing minerals and nutrients to be accessible
Maintaining blood pressure
Lessening the burden on the kidneys and liver by flushing out waste products
3. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DRINKING WATER?
Dehydration can slow down circulation and affect the flow of oxygen to your brain. A lack of fluids can also cause your heart to work harder to pump oxygen throughout your body. This increase in energy expenditure can make you feel tired, sluggish and less focused
Improved brain performance
A small amount of dehydration can affect memory, mood, concentration, and reaction time
Better digestive health
Water aids in the digestion of our food
Decreased joint pain
The cartilage in our joints contains approximately 80% water. Staying hydrated helps your joints to stay well-lubricated and promotes smoother moving joints, leading to fewer aches and pains
Research shows that when you are dehydrated your body stores more heat. This is especially important when you are engaged in any type of physical activity. Drinking water helps you to produce sweat, which allows your body to cool down
Blood is primarily made up of water. When you don’t drink enough water, the blood becomes more concentrated which can lead to an imbalance of vital electrolytes, which are key to the proper functioning of your heart
Adequate water intake supports your body’s natural detoxification systems, which remove waste and harmful substances.
Kidney stone prevention
Proper hydration helps to dilute the concentration of minerals in your urinary tract and makes stone formation less likely
4. HOW TO INCREASE WATER INTAKE AND STAY HYDRATED?
Incorporate water into your daily routine (drink water at certain times of the day, fill a jug with a predetermined amount of water to drink throughout the day)
Keep water with you throughout the day
Sip water throughout the day
Flavor your water by adding slices of fruit such as fresh lemon, lime, pineapple, cucumber, or berries
Eat water-rich fruits (watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, pineapples) and water-rich veggies (cucumbers, leafy greens, radishes, celery, zucchini, and tomatoes)
Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water. By the time you are thirsty, you are already mildly dehydrated.
Reduce or avoid alcohol (alcohol is considered a diuretic and triggers your body to remove fluids from your bloodstream)
Plan outdoor activities in the morning or early evenings
Dress for the weather (wear clothing that allows your skin to breathe, select lighter shades of clothing, wear a wide-brimmed hat to keep your head cool, use sunscreen to avoid a sunburn which can increase your skin temperature and make it harder to stay cool
5. HOW MUCH WATER SHOULD YOU DRINK?
According to the Mayo Clinic, adequate water intake is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters or 125oz) for men and about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters or 91oz) for women. These recommendations include fluids from water, other beverages you may drink, and foods that contain water. I advise my clients to calculate their water intake by using half of their body weight in ounces as base consumption (example: 150 lb person, 75 ounces) and to increase this amount with activity.
However, as research has determined, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Water intake should be personalized for each individual based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to your size, activity level, and personal medical history. If you are unsure about what amount is right for you, we recommend speaking with your physician for a comprehensive examination of your situation and a determination of what is best for you.
Need help getting ready for the spring or summer seasons? We are here for you–from preparing your body for activities you haven’t participated in recently, to strength training to help you improve your performance, or just to support you in your personal goals! Reach out; we are always happy to help!