Water, water, everywhere
Did you know that water makes up around 60% of adult men and around 50% of adult women? That means there are 12 gallons of water in a woman who weighs approximately 160 lbs.! So, the next time you step on the scale, which of course I advise you not to do regularly, please keep that in mind.
Day 21: Is it 8 glasses a day?
Most everyone has heard the advice "drink at least 8 glasses of water a day; but, did you know why staying hydrated is important?
Water is constantly being lost from the body. About .5 - 1 liter of water is lost through excreting feces, as vapor from respiration, and through heat loss alone. This loss varies the most depending on activity level and climate.
It's tough to say how much you really need since the body size and intensity of exercise matters. Roughly speaking, consuming 2 - 3 L or 64 ounces is a good rule of thumb. The best way to tell is to assess your urine color. If it is slightly pale and you aren't thirsty all the time, you are probably doing a good job.
Drinking water is the most common way of replenishing lost fluid; however, it isn't the only way. The food we eat also contains water. If you eat adequately, you will also contribute to replenishing lost fluid. For example, iceberg lettuce is made up of just under 100% water and mushrooms are made up of 90%!
So, what happens when you don't drink enough water? Dehydration has a great impact on the way the body functions and feels. Water is a vehicle for flushing out toxins and carrying nutrients to the cells. Losing as little as 1% of your body weight in fluid will cause your body to slow metabolism. This triggers thirst, so don't ignore it! 2% loss and you will start to experience poor decision making, which is seen frequently in athletes and 5% loss will cause loss of muscle strength and duration, also seen in athletes (perhaps that third set in tennis?!) and 20% loss will result in death.
On the flip side, there is no need to drink excessively. Too much water will cause imbalances in sodium. Sodium is a vital electrolyte needed for cardiac health and is involved with firing of neurons in your brain. So, in summary, get a 2L water bottle and make it a habit to drink throughout the day. Your cells and your brain will thank you!
Jen Pfeilfer, MS, APD
Dr. Thomas R. Schneider, Medical Director