People probably don’t realize water is a whole nutrient by itself. It’s that important. Most of our body is made up of water, our blood is mostly water and it is used to transport important nutrients, enzymes, hormones, minerals, blood cells, oxygen, carbon dioxide and waste products around the body. Urine (pee) is mostly water and is used to remove dangerous metabolic waste products from the body. Every cell in our bodies (we have several million of them) is essentially tiny bags of water in which all the chemical reactions that make us work take place. Every joint in our body needs water to act as a lubricant and cushion when we move. During pregnancy the fetus spends its development suspended in amniotic fluid which is mostly water. Water is absolutely essential to life, so much so that we can die from lack of water in 2 days, faster than we can die from lack of food (2 weeks).
When our bodies do not get enough water we experience dehydration. The first sign of dehydration is the feeling of thirst, which is when our body gives us a conscious desire to drink. Sometimes we misinterpret the feeling of thirst for hunger, which is why it is often suggested that if you feel hungry to drink water first, just in case you are misinterpreting your body’s signal. If the dehydration continues and we do not replenish the water in our bodies we start to experience physical signs of dehydration which include dry skin, dry mouth, headache, difficulty concentrating, tiredness, low blood pressure, increased heartbeat, dizziness and many other unpleasant symptoms.
One way to tell if your body is getting enough water is by the color of your urine. The darker yellow color your urine is, the more dehydrated you are. If you are well hydrated your urine will be a very pale yellow color, almost clear. If your urine is so clear there is no yellow color, you may want to cut back on the amount of water you drink by a little bit. As we learned before, when it comes to the body, you can have too much of a good thing. Drinking too much water is rare, but it is possible. Too much water in a short period of time can mess with your electrolyte balance and lead to possibly fatal hyponatremia. That’s why you read your body’s clues, and in this case the clue is your urine.
For most of us, however, the problem is we aren’t getting enough water. It is recommended we consume 8 to 12 eight ounce cups of water per day. This is if all we are drinking is water. We also get water in our foods and other beverages. For those of us who also get some water in fresh fruits and vegetables, and other refreshing beverages like green tea of fruit juice, we may not need as much as 12 cups. 8, eight ounce cups is a good general guideline. 8 cups sounds like a lot, but an eight ounce cup is tiny, so 8 of them isn’t hard to do over the course of a day. Most cups we drink from these days are 12 to 16 ounces, so a healthy amount of water is actually easier to achieve than it sounds.
Keeping yourself hydrated helps you function better in your daily tasks. Even when you’re a little bit dehydrated it affects your concentration, memory and alertness. One advantage of drinking plain water rather than other beverages is that it does not add excess calories to your daily intake. So drinking enough water has the potential to make you immediately feel and do better in your daily life while helping you maintain a healthy weight. That’s a lot of winning.
© 2015 Kelene Blake, All Rights Reserved