Water is so vital to humans that without it, we would die in just a few days. Every cell and organ in our body needs water to work properly. I’m sure you’ve heard the general, “8 by 8“ rule – drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water each day. I’m going to explain why some people may need more than that and why properly hydrating your body is so important.
Water makes up about 60 percent of our body weight. It provides so many helpful, necessary functions:
- Helps regulate body temperature
- Lubricates and cushions joints
- Protects body organs and tissues
- Moistens tissues (those in your mouth, eyes and nose)
- Flushes out waste
- Helps prevent constipation
- Carries nutrients and oxygen to cells
- Flushes toxins out of vital organs
When your body isn’t getting enough water, it can become dehydrated and interrupt normal functioning, as well as cause you to lose energy. Have I mentioned drinking water helps you lose weight?
Even though our bodies are full of water, we need to replenish our supply. We lose water through perspiration, urinating, bowel movements and even breathing. How much we need to replenish is dependent on a few different factors:
- Health conditions or illness: you can lose quite a bit of fluid if you have a fever, vomiting or diarrhea. On the other hand, there are health conditions that cause your body to retain water and you may actually need to limit your fluid intake.
- Amount of exercise: if you are a physically active person, chances are you break a sweat frequently. Different types of exercise require different amounts of fluid to compensate for the fluid lost.
- Climate: your body is likely to lose fluid through perspiration when you are outside in hot or humid air. During cold months, your skin loses moisture because of indoor heat. Different altitudes can also have an effect on the way your body uses water.
- If you’re pregnant or breast-feeding: it is important for women who are pregnant to stay well hydrated and very important for women who are breast-feeding to increase their water intake for obvious reasons.
Drinking a glass of water is not the only way to stay hydrated – milk and juice can be good choices because they are made up of mostly water. There are foods that have high water content – lots of fruits and vegetables. According to the Mayo Clinic, the food we eat provides about 20 percent of our total water intake.
To make sure that you are staying well hydrated, drink a glass of water with each meal and between meals. Be sure to drink plenty of water before and after being physically active. The Centers for Disease Control says this is essential. When you actually feel thirsty, your body is telling you that you are on your way to dehydration. Again, you can consume other beverages to add to your fluid intake but be careful – Rethink Your Drink provides a great list of beverages and their corresponding calories. Contact your doctor or a registered dietician if you have any questions or concerns about your daily fluid intake.