The powerhouse of hydration. The one, the only, H2O. Some of you reading this (hopefully a few more folks have joined my mom in reading these–Hi, Ma!) love water and will have zero issues with what I am going to encourage you to add into your daily routine. While some of you are going to roll your eyes and not be too keen on what I will be encouraging you to change or adjust in your daily routine. We all know we need to drink water. Anyone who turns on the radio, watches the news, or opens up their social media outlets will know water is “all the range.” But, do you know why?
Did you know up to 60% of the human adult body is comprised of water? Your brain and heart are composed of 73% water alone; lungs 83%, skin 64%, muscles and kidneys 79%, and even bones are 31%. ( H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158) Throughout the course of a day our bodies are constantly losing water via breathing, sweating, urination, and bowel movements. It is imperative those lost ounces are replenished regularly through consumption of beverages and foods high in water.
So, what exactly does water do?
- Aids in workout or athletic performance. Staying properly hydrated helps blood volume maintenance which helps oxygen transport; assists in electrolyte balance, and supports body temperature stability. All things you want to have happening if you’re striving for PR’s or winning the game.
- Quality of the skin. Proper hydration helps to replenish the skin tissue and can help increase elasticity. Both of these can help delay the appearance of ageing–fine lines and wrinkles. Umm sign me up for aging gracefully…please and thank you!
- Certain Vitamins (C, B-Complex, A, B12, and others) are water soluble vitamins–meaning they need water to aid in their digestion and absorption into the body.
- Water is also needed to ensure your brain is manufacturing hormones and neurotransmitters.
The list of water’s responsibilities and how it helps other systems within the body is practically endless. Water is used by every system in the body and plays a role in every action made by the body–the ones you’re aware of and those that happen automatically without any extra effort on your part. You could say, water, it’s kind of a big deal. (Because it is…)
By now, you’re likely thinking, “Okay, Erin, if water is so important, then how much water should we be consuming each day?” I am so glad you asked this question. It is recommended men consume 3.7 liters (125oz; 15.5 cups) of fluids and women 2.7 liters (91oz; 11.5 cups) of fluids each day (The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine). You may also need to modify your intake based on some additional scenarios:
- Exercise: if you sweat you must replenish the lost fluid; drink before, sip during, and drink after your workout to ensure you’re not getting dehydrated.
- Environmental Factors: again, if you’re in an environment in which you will sweat (extreme heat/humidity)–you must replenish those fluids. Higher altitudes and colder temperatures also need to hydrate properly to ensure dehydration doesn’t become an issue.
- Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mamas: you will want to ensure you’re consuming enough fluids. “The Office on Women’s Health recommends that pregnant women drink about 10 cups (2.4 liters) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume about 13 cups (3.1 liters) of fluids a day.” (The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine)
You may be looking at these numbers and thinking to yourself this appears to be an impossible challenge–consuming this much liquid throughout the course of one day. If you’re unaccustomed to drinking this much water, start with baby steps. Take your current body weight, half that number and try to consume that much water in fluid ounces. You can also get water from the foods you eat. Below is a list of some foods higher in water content:
Some of you have bought into this challenge of consuming more water throughout the course of your day. However, I know some of you are still hemming and hawing and dragging your feet on this subject. “Water is flavorless.” “Water is boring.” “I’ll have to pee all the time.” Etc. Yes, there will be some challenges to adjusting and changing behavior–but the benefits will be ten fold! Your body will adjust to the higher level of fluids and come to expect it–you won’t have to rush to the toilet every 20 or so minutes. There are also loads of flavored water options on the market now to add a bit of fun and pizzazz. Flavored seltzer/fizzy waters are all the range–umm hello La Croix–and you can always add citrus slices or cucumber slices to your regular water to bump up the fancy flavor factor.
Bottom line is this….drink ya some water. Did you sweat today? Drink ya some water. Are you a pregnant mama? Breastfeeding? Drink ya some water. Live in a hot, humid, cold, higher altitude part of the world? Drink ya some water. Start drinking more water than you did yesterday and when that task becomes easier, add a bit more and so on. Oftentimes we get overwhelmed with the whole of the challenge. When we do that, we may want to throw in the towel or never start. Take each day and make the small improvements; shoot, before you know it, you’ll be the one in the office or at playgroup schlepping the big water bottle.
Until next time,