Several earlier writings about the benefits of water to the health of your body are in Hilltop’s blog archives. Summer is here and the importance of proper levels of water consumption by each of you is worth repeating.
In many parts of the world where potable water is not easy to find, insufficient water consumption can be a deciding factor between life and death among young and old alike. Add to this diseases such as cholera and other forms of diarrhea-causing health problems that accelerate water loss and life becomes even more tenuous.
Fortunately in the United States drinkable water is generally not a problem. Sadly dehydration is still very much an issue particularly out of ignorance. Every year there are fatalities associated with dehydration or lack of adequate water intake despite most homes having running water.
What is considered “Proper Water Consumption”? The level of water intake varies with the individual. Physically active or sedentary? What age? Medical issues? Medications? Daily food and beverage choices? Illnesses? Interior environment at home and office? All of these influence your daily need for water replacement. At the very bare minimum — 1 1/2 to 2 quarts per day or 48 to 64 ounces.
Water consumption plus Daily Intake of Vegetables and Fruits. A plant-based diet contributes to the water intake. (Animals in deserts obtain their water from vegetation along with having special adaptations of their physiology to conserve the water in their bodies.) Vegetation in your diet will also provide some of the minerals that can help your body maintain a better water balance.
Your body weight and water. The weight of an infant’s body is up to about 75% water. thus an 8 pound infant is almost 6 pounds water ! If a 150 pound adult is about 65% water, almost 98 pounds is water. Where is this water? A portion is obviously in your blood. A significant amount resides within the trillions of cells that make up your body mass (intracellular). Additional water lies in the fluids that bathe all those cells (extracellular fluid) that acts like a buffer to prevent your cells from dehydrating so quickly. Last but not least is the water that comprises your digestive system fluids.
When do you become dehydrated? Dehydration starts to set in when you lose as little as about 3% of your body weight in water. In the case of a 150 pound adult this is about 4-1/2 pounds. In summer this is easy to do. But it is equally accomplished in the winter. As dehydration progresses to 6% and higher more severe body changes and symptoms begin to appear which may require medical help.
Prevention of dehydration is the “secret”. If you drink abut 4 ounces of water each hour in a 16 hour waking day (assuming 8 hours of sleep), you will achieve about the bare minimum water consumption of 64 ounces ! If you keep a cup or a water bottle at your desk, bedside, kitchen —- wherever — and sip heartily every 5 or 10 minutes, 4 ounces is easy to drink. But remember that this is the adult bare minimum.
Is water your only option? By and large, YES. Don’t fight it. Your body naturally needs water without all the sugars, colorants, flavors, sweeteners, etc. Your body will thank you years down life’s road. Sports drinks and energy drinks have their following of course. But for some people they are not appropriate from a health standpoint. Included are young children whose bodies are still developing and adults who have health issues or are taking certain medications. Energy drinks particularly may have water-depleting ingredients. Caution: Do read labels.
Each of you needs to be conscious about managing the water balance of your body and to take appropriate steps to maintain that balance daily throughout all the seasons of the year. You may well find improvements in other areas of your life like your blood pressure, skin tone, allergies, asthma, and eye health to name just a few.