Water, Water, Water!
Many, if not all, of us have heard that we need to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. But how many of us actually know why? And is 8 glasses too little, or maybe too much? First it’s important to realize that roughly 60% of our body is comprised of water, and essentially every system in our body depends on water to function properly. Water does things such as acting like a carrier of nutrients to cells, helping flush toxins out of vital organs, and promoting healthy digestion to name a few. Denying our body water leads to dehydration, which can become serious if not handled timely.
Effects of dehydration can include:
- Muscle weakness
- Poor concentration
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Decreased metabolism
In severe cases dehydration can lead to low blood pressure, rapid fluttering of the heart, and disorientation. If we look at the list below we can see that from a fitness standpoint being under-hydrated can wreak havoc on our workouts and impede us from reaching our goals. In addition we can look at the above and can easily make the correlation between being properly hydrated and the positive effects it would have. More energy, more strength, better focus, increased metabolism and less chance of headaches and dizziness, especially during exercise. Pretty awesome!
So back to the question of how much. An adequate intake (AI) for men is actually around 13 cups of total beverages a day. The AI for women is about 9 cups of total beverages a day. Notice that the word in the statement was “beverages” not “water.” This is because most beverages we consume contain water and therefore count by most standards. So in reality the 8 glasses a day rule is a little off in terms of overall amount of liquid, however keeping with this habit, and making it the majority of our fluid intake, can help us avoid the pitfall of drinking too many of our calories. Also it should be noted that other types of drinks, especially caffeinated beverages cannot quench thirst or adequately re-hydrate us when we are showing signs of dehydration.
It is also important to note that increased fluid intake may be required for bouts of exercise and when outdoors in high heat for extended periods of time. In looking at the facts it’s easy to see that making sure we are properly hydrated will pay huge dividends to our health and well-being. And most of all it’s one of the simplest things we can do!