Don’t think of water only as a fitness thing; the importance of water in the body is really more of a good health thing.
As you know, our bodies are made up of a whole lot of water; 55 to 75 percent to be exact depending on your body shape and size. With this amount of volume comprising our overall makeup, water is a key component of our overall health.
Unlike many components of our body chemistry, water doesn’t replenish itself. It’s up to us to keep our water supply topped off. It’s sort of like watching the fuel level in your car.
The importance of water in the body is not just to keep our level up to a certain standard, but water is essential to good health. Water loss occurs constantly through breathing, restroom duties, sweating and even evaporation through our skin. As Joan Koelemay, RD, dietitian for the Beverage Institute states, “Think of water as a nutrient your body needs that is present in liquids, plain water, and foods. All of these are essential daily to replace the large amounts of water lost each day.” When your water output is more than your intake, you become dehydrated.
Why Water is Important
1. Water aids in digestion and improves the overall function of the gastrointestinal tract. If you suffer from constipation, lack of water may be the culprit. Increase your daily intake and see if your digestive health improves. Additionally, waste is also removed from the body through urination and perspiration, which functions more efficiently with an adequate supply of water.
2. Water helps to maintain all our body fluids. These fluids are necessary for overall body functions. They absorb and transfer nutrients, maintain proper body temperature and helps protect sensitive organs and the spinal cord.
3. Water is essential to muscle health. Without water, muscles will just waste away. It’s important in any muscle-intensive fitness program to maintain adequate water consumption.
4. Water also promotes healthy looking skin. While not a miracle wrinkle cure, water does moisturize your skin from within. Dehydration causes your body to pull any moisture it can from the skin in order to lubricate the more important body parts needed to function.
5. No conversation about the importance of water in the body would be complete without mentioning weight loss. Unfortunately, water is not a quick weight loss solution; but an important tool in your weight loss program. As previously mentioned, water aids in proper digestion. This alone increases the rate at which the body breaks down fat. Additionally, water is a great substitute for high-calorie beverages. “What works with weight loss is if you choose water or a non-caloric beverage over a caloric beverage and/or eat a diet higher in water-rich foods that are healthier, more filling, and help you trim calorie intake,” says Penn State researcher Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Weight Control Plan.
Work water into your overall diet plans. A couple glasses just prior to a meal will make you feel slightly full, thus suppressing your appetite.
6. There is also some scientific evidence that suggests water may also help cure headaches, reduce the chance of kidney stones and lessen the effects of arthritis by keeping joints lubricated.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
You may have heard the rule which states that a person should drink eight 8-ounce glasses (1.9 liters) of water per day. While this guideline has been around for a long time, it’s not supported by any scientific evidence. After all, does it make sense that the daily amount of water intake would be the same for a 90-pound woman as that of a 250-pound man? Probably not. On the other hand, The Institute of Medicine recommends a daily water intake of 13 cups (3 liters) for men and 9 cups (2.2 liters) for women. There’s also calculators out there that determine daily water consumption based on a person’s weight. Now, keep in mind that some of your water intake comes from food, especially water-laden foods such as fruits and vegetables.
As is the case with many health recommendations, sometimes the real answer is muddled, confusing and open for debate. So, how much water should we consume? The real answer is moderation and common sense. Many factors contribute to water loss. For example, a warm, humid day will require more water than a day in the winter. Water loss can also be altered by your physical activity. Weight and age also alter water requirements.
Our theory is, if you feel thirsty, drink some water. Your daily diet should include several servings of fruit and veggies. Choose a couple high in water content such as tomatoes or cucumbers and watermelon or oranges. The main rule of thumb is to pay close attention to your urine. It should be clear or light in color. A dark color indicates concentrated urine due to the kidney retaining the water for its own purposes. It’s time to drink some water.
If exercising, The American College of Sports Medicine suggests drinking 17 ounces of water two hours prior to your workout and continue drinking during the workout to replace lost fluids from sweating.
Despite knowing the importance of water in the body, some folks just don’t like water. That’s fine. There are options. First, give water a chance by adding flavor. Add a couple of orange slices, lemon, watermelon or other fruit. A cucumber spear or fresh herbs like basil or mint also make interesting flavor options.
Other than water, foods high in water content are another alternative. Fruits and vegetables are the perfect candidate for this, plus they contribute added nutrients. Broth is another option, provided it’s of the low or no sodium variety.
There are many factors to good health and fitness. Water is just but one of them. Keep in mind the importance of water in the body. Learn to love water. After all, it may be the only substance we consume where we need not worry about fat, calories, sugar or carbohydrates.
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