Water Often Underrated for Health and Fitness
Two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. We know it better as water – that magical elixir that has no appreciable taste but satisfies the burning need to quench our thirst and restore our energy.
Although there are countless drinks, touted as the restorative fuel our body needs, it seems that once all has been said and done, nothing quenches our thirst better than this clear magical liquid.
Despite it’s benefits, water gets a bum-rap. While we all have heard time and time again of its importance, the countless ways water plays vital roles in our body are greatly underrated. The heat wave that blasted the western United States brought to focus the most effective way to cool our bodies, and keep all our temperature-related mechanisms working.
The most important thing to understand, is that regardless of temperature, our bodies need water on a consistent and measured basis, all the time. Beyond the need to quench our thirst, remains other key pearls to the importance of this life-sustaining fluid. Listed below are some frequently asked questions about water that will develop a deeper appreciation of its magic:
- Why is water important ? – On average, a person can live for up to 3 or more weeks without food, but count on lasting on only 3 days without water. While some people have lived 8-10 days without water, these few exceptions prove the rule of it’s importance.
- How much is enough? – There are multiple factors that determine the answer to this question, including climate, levels of activity and lifestyle. While there seems to be never-ending debate regarding how much water is “enough”, generally speaking men need about 13 cups (8 oz. per cup) per day and women need approximately 9 cups. While the “8 x 8” mantra that suggests a person should drink 8, 8-ounce glasses of water a day, this should represent a minimum and does not account for the water that is also in food which contributes to total consumption.
- What body functions does water assist ? – Water is greatly under-appreciated in terms of the countless roles it plays. Water saturates fiber allowing it to expand and promote satiety (feeling of fullness), assists the transport of nutrients to the cells in our body, create a moist environment for optimal performance of our ears, nose and throat, soften stool for elimination and assist in the movement of lymph fluid.
- How does water help our circulation? – 80% of our blood is comprised of water. When we consume inadequate amounts, the thickness of our blood makes circulation through our heart and blood vessels more difficult. Picture trying to move oil through a narrow straw – it is that kind of stress on our circulation that too little water can create.
Can a person consume too much water? – The short answer to this question is “yes” – a condition referred to as hyponatremia. This condition occurs when over-consumption of water can dilute critical electrolytes and the sodium in our body necessary for muscle contraction, including the heart. Sadly in can also occur in hazing rituals which can be deadly. Most frequently however, it is usually athletes who lose excessive amounts of electrolytes through sweat without replacing those electrolytes and infants who are most vulnerable to over-consumption.
Lastly, it is important to remember that sweating is not the only way a person loses water. Urination, breath vapor, and evaporation of water that can not be seen, referred to as “insensible” perspiration, are other reasons a person should be aware of water loss.