Okay, so we all know that without water we dehydrate and wither away ~ Got it! But do you really know about how the water is used by your body to keep you alive including detoxification?
Talk about detoxification ~ water flushes waste products out of your kidney and liver, lubricates and cushions your joints and keeps your eyes, mouth and nose tissues moist. It regulates your body temperature and protects your internal organs. Your lungs are 90% water and that brain sloshing about between your ears is 70% water. Your blood is more than 80% water. Every system in your body depends on water. In fact, about 60% of the average human body is simply ~ (wait for it…) WATER!
And you’re not just losing water through your sweat and urine. You lose more than 1 cup of water daily in just the vapor you exhale from your lungs. Which is why you can survive for weeks without food, but you can live only a few days without water.
But you’re wondering…”Hey wait! Can’t I get water from my food?” True, about 20% of your liquid needs can come from solid foods (although this also depends on the food in question, because watermelon for instance, is made almost entirely of water). You still need to receive the rest of your daily hydration by drinking water (ok and water-based beverages). But not so fast ~ not all water based beverages. While most studies have found that in moderate amounts, caffeine has only mild diuretic effects, alcoholic beverages (yes, even beer) can actually contribute to your daily water needs. So we can’t count those towards your total intake.
Do you really have to drink 8 (8oz) cups of water a day to avoid dehydration?
Good question ~ the science on that has changed. The answer is NO! You possibly need MORE!! The old standard “8 by 8” rule isn’t really supported by hard evidence, but it remains popular because it’s so easy to remember.
In February 2004, the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine issued new recommendations for water. The media only picked-up on the first line of the report which proclaimed that the vast majority of healthy people can adequately meet their daily hydration needs by simply drinking when they are thirsty. However, if you continued reading beyond that line (towards the bottom), while the report did not specify exact requirements for water; it did set the following general recommendations for women and men:
- Women need an average of approximately 91 ounces (or ~11 ½ cups) of total water per day.
- Men need an average of approximately 125 ounces (or ~15 ½ cups) of total water per day.
Best solution is to keep in mind that the rule should be reframed as: “Drink at least 8 (8oz) glasses of water a day,” If you’re in a temperate climate, with no illness and fairly sedentary ~ you may be able drink a little less water. It goes without saying that consumption of salty, sodium rich foods will require a little more. (Why am I craving potato chips suddenly?)
…And about that ‘only when thirsty’ part of the report. Actually, for some people, thirst is not always a good indicator of their hydration needs. Your water needs increase in hot climates and with heavy physical activity. Consider that athletes who train several hours a day in the heat should NOT rely on their thirst. They need to instead stick to a strict drinking schedule.
Children and the elderly also may not be able to rely solely on thirst to guide their water need. These populations have a less acute sense of their thirst. Older adults may even take diuretic medications or have reduced kidney function, both of which significantly increase fluid loss and consequently increase fluid needs.
Did you know that mere lack of water is the number one trigger of daytime fatigue? A 2012 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, conducted by the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory showed that mild dehydration can cause mood swings, anger and difficulty concentrating.
The Nationwide Food Consumption Surveys indicate that a portion of the population may be chronically mildly dehydrated. Dehydration of as little as 1-2% of one’s body weight has been shown to impair your muscle endurance. At 3-4% dehydration, your muscle strength and endurance significantly drop and your actual performance is impaired.
Go drink a glass of water!
About the author: Jeanne Ricks is a Holistic Health Coach & Clinical Hypnotist who provides personal diet, wellness & nutrition coaching combined with Hypnosis to help you achieve your personal best. www.NuDay.org