What Does Proper Hydration Do For You?

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By Kay Leaman, HealthyDay HealthyLife

We’ve all heard that we need to drink a lot of water every day with varying opinions as to how much that should be. So, what does drinking water do for us?

Water is used by every cell, organ and tissue that makes up the body and nearly all of the major systems in the body depend on it. It is also the medium for most chemical reactions in the body, especially those metabolic reactions involved in energy production. It’s necessary for all digestion and absorption functions, and lubricates mucous membranes in the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts. It also:

• Transports oxygen, nutrients and waste in and out of the cells
• Regulates body temperature
• Moistens tissues such as mouth, eyes and nose
• Protects body organs and tissue
• Serves as a cushioning component between joints, in the spinal cord and in the brain
• Lessens the burden on the kidneys and liver by flushing out waste products
• Carries nutrients and oxygen to cells
• Helps dissolve minerals and other nutrients to make them accessible to the body
• Helps prevent constipation
• Composes 75% of our brain, 83% of our blood, 75% of our muscles and 22% of our bones

Our bodies lose water through breathing, sweating and digestion. And, when our sugar levels are high (what are we eating?) the body needs a lot of water to leave via the kidneys (ratio of 6 molecules of water for every molecule of sugar). If water is not being drunk, the body’s cells are being used to compensate and dehydration sets in. Signs of dehydration are:

• Feeling thirsty (Sometimes when you’re feeling hungry, your body is really saying I’m thirsty.)
• Skin looks dull and wrinkles and fine lines are more apparent
• Tired or sleepy, dry mouth
• Decreased urine output
• Headaches and/or dizziness

The current trend for how much we should drink is half our body weight. However, if you’re a very active person (exercising, playing sports, running, hiking, etc.) your intake should increase. And, coffee, tea and other beverages made with water should not be counted toward your daily intake. These drinks are not recognized by the body as water and are not processed the same way water is.

60-80 ounces is a good range. (Urine should be light yellow to clear when you’re hydrated.) To increase your intake, start with one extra glass a day and increase it every week or so until you reach your goal. (Take time to measure how much water your favorite glass holds.) Let’s say your glass holds 10 oz. and your target is 70 oz. You’ll need to drink seven glasses each day. A great reminder is to place seven rubber bands at the top of your glass. Every time you empty the glass move a rubber band to the bottom. This visual lets you know whether you’re drinking water or not. (I drink a 12 oz. glass of water as soon as I get up which makes my goal much easier.)

If you’re one of the many people who don’t really like water, consider purchasing a diffuser bottle. This allows you to add flavor by adding berries, melons, lemons, limes, etc. to the water. Play with mixing different flavors to find your favorite.

As with any lifestyle change, consistency is key and progress (smaller steps toward your goal over time) can produce amazing results.

To Your Health! Succeed@healthydayhealthylife.com