It covers nearly 70% of the surface of our Earth. It makes up 60-70% of our body weight. All of our cells in our body are filled with it and without it our body would stop working. Most of us know that water is essential for life. This clear liquid composed of oxygen and hydrogen molecules, infuses the body and all living things with hydration and is a substance that humans cannot live without, yet studies show that most of us don’t consume sufficient water, despite the omnipresent water bottle.
There is not a more important thing we put into our bodies; water plays a vital role in nearly every bodily function and every physiological, biochemical reaction from digestion and nutrient absorption, to circulation, temperature control, metabolism, and elimination. Water is called the ‘Universal Solvent’ because of its excellent ability to dissolve so many substances. This makes it possible for our cells to use all the valuable nutrients, minerals and chemicals in biological processes. And its “stickiness” or surface tension plays a part in the body’s ability to transport these materials all through ourselves and no less important in the ability to transport toxins and waste materials out. These fluids protect our organs, lubricate our joints, float our brain and bathe our tissues. Your body has a lot of important jobs to do and it needs water to do most of them.
The body uses water in so many ways; it is easy to see how we might get dehydrated if we don’t keep our daily water consumption consistent. We lose water every day through our breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. Other factors that have an effect on our water needs include, our activity levels, exercise, the climate and altitude we live at, our health status, any conditions we may have, medications we take, and or toxins we may be exposed to in our environment or our diet.
Symptoms of early dehydration include: lack of concentration, mental -fogginess, headaches, mood swings, lethargy, confusion, dry lips, and constipation. Sounds a lot like the “all too familiar mid-day slump” experienced by so many, who may not realize what their body is really saying is, “I’m thirsty”!
Just a 1% decrease in your body water can cause a 10% decrease in your productivity and mild dehydration can actually cause a drop in metabolism. Think of it like a hierarchy of tasks, your body will take care of the MOST vital processes first to keep you alive….and then only if water supply is adequate will it get to the lower priority activities…like fat burning, muscle building, focus and memory.
Dehydration is really the deprivation of vitality. Consistent failure to drink enough water can lead to chronic cellular dehydration; a condition where the body’s cells do not get hydrated enough leaving them in a weakened state and vulnerable to disease. Putting the overall immune system at risk and leading to chemical, nutritional and pH imbalances.
“So HOW much is enough?” is a question that has been raging for ages. It is crystal clear that there are plenty of theories out there. Bottom-line is each day we must replace at least 2.4 liters of water. Although other beverages may contribute, these should not be the major portion of your fluid intake. These imposters can never do what clean fresh water does; the caffeine, sugar and/or artificial sweeteners and miscellaneous ingredients in these other beverages are just more work for your body to process through in order to glean a little H2O. Pure water is still your best bet because its calorie free, inexpensive and readily available.
The advice I find that makes the most sense is to aim for half your current body weight in ounces daily as your bare minimum starting point. So if you weigh 140 pounds you would start with 70 ounces of water daily. And a good rule of thumb is an extra 16-32 ounces for every hour of exercise. If you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters(6.3 cups) of colorless or light amber urine a day (please note that some supplements may cause brighter colored urine), your fluid intake is probably adequate.
Most importantly, listen to your body; remember that the thirst signal can be weak or even disguised as hunger. So have a glass of water when you are “having a craving” to determine if you are thirsty before heading to the cupboards. It won’t hurt; it will keep you hydrated at the very least, if not leaner.
Let’s face it: there are some days when we just want a little something more. You can have your water and drink it too, with the right combination of extra ingredients. Adding these little splashes of flavor will perk up your water and keep you sipping all day long:
- Slices of lemon or lime
- Slices of cucumber and oranges
- A splash of unsweetened fruit juice
- Drop or two of flavored stevia
- Caffeine free herbal tea bag
- Flower essences & edible essential oils
- Peppermint leaves
- Mineral water (use sparingly as the phosphorus present in the bubbles can leach important minerals from your bones)
- Frozen berries
One last note on drinking water, BE SURE you have a clean source! If you are not certain, or if you are on city water, it never hurts to invest in a water purifier system and/or at least a carbon filtered pitcher. Avoid drinking water from plastic bottles, stick to stainless steel or glass, to avoid any leaching of toxins (even the BPA-free bottles may contain other toxic chemicals that have yet to be disclosed).