This month, as we transition to warmer weather (finally!) I want to focus on another component to great heath. Us foodies and health advocates can all get a bit consumed with the role of food, vitamins, and ingredients in what we eat.
Today I want to recognize the other partner in excellent health; water.
Water is the largest single constituent of the human body and is essential for all cellular homeostasis and life. Yet it is something we take advantage of very often, because, for most of us, it’s plentiful and readily available. But what if it wasn’t?
What if every single day you needed to walk miles to gather, just a jug full, only to walk miles again, to bring it home? It’s a process we can hardly imagine, but this is a daily life event for many families in the world. And then there are others, who, despite having access to water, the quality of the water is compromised and contaminated by chemicals making it unfit to drink.
Water is a vital component to life, and good health. We can all universally agree on this, and should support one another in achieving access to clean, pure water on a daily basis.
The body itself is made of 60-75 percent water, which it uses in all of the organs, tissues and cells. Water does a lot more for you than just quench your thirst. Water serves to regulate body temperature, acts as lubricant for your joints and cartilage, and protects the spinal cord.
Adequate water intake also enables your body to excrete waste properly; the kidneys, liver and intestines all use it to help flush out toxins and bile.
Water Aids in Digestion
All digestion starts with saliva, the basis of which is water. Digestion relies on enzymes that are found in saliva to break down foods and liquid and to dissolve minerals and other nutrients. Proper digestion makes minerals and nutrients more accessible to the body. This is key to receiving the most nutrition out of the foods we ingest.
The carbohydrates and proteins that our bodies use as food are metabolized and transported by water in the bloodstream.
Water is also necessary to help you digest and utilize soluble fiber. This type of fiber absorbs water and assists in regular, easy to pass, bowl movements.
The volume of water in our bodies, as a percentage of fat-free mass, is highest in infants and declines as we age. Our brains are 85 percent water, and since the brain controls all of the body, it only makes sense that the need for constant water supply should be relatively high.
Because the body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it is important to become rehydrated by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water. And no, tea, coffee, fruit juices, and other beverages are NOT water. Sure they contain some amount of water base, but the alteration of the water now changes how the body will receive it, and in some cases the added ingredients in these drinks can actually inhibit the body from properly absorbing and utilizing the water.
Some liquids like soda and soft drinks contain elevated levels of phosphates and are often made with purified water that leach vital minerals from your body. Most vitamins can not perform their function in the body without the presence of minerals.
These types of beverages also usually contain high levels of sugar, this causes your pancreas to produce an abundance of insulin. Chronic elevation to insulin levels can result in disease such as diabetes and heart conditions.
While pure water is the best way to truly hydrate and fulfill the bodies needs, some amount of water from foods is a natural part of our daily intake. Certain foods, like watermelon, cucumbers, broccoli, eggplant and leafy greens have a high water content and can be beneficial to help reduce symptoms of dehydration.
How much water should I drink ?
This isn’t a one size fits all scenario. There are several factors to take into consideration, when making your best effort to stay hydrated.
Important things to observe are age, gender, climate, altitude, activity level and whether you are pregnant / nursing or sick, such as with fever. When we are sick or stressed, the body may need additional fluids for healing and cell repair.
The body also goes through different stages of growth and has different needs depending on those changes.
Too little water can cause symptoms from headaches, irritability, cravings, and afternoon fatigue – just to name a few.
Too much water can cause loss of minerals, and even disrupt deep sleep if consumed in large amounts late in the day.
In general, a fair recommended daily intake of water is 3.7 liters (15 cups) for the average adult male and 2.7 liters (11 cups) for the average adult female.
As with food, it is so important to listen to your body and find what amount feels good to you. It is also worthwhile to consider the times of day you drink water, making sure to do so after exercise, outdoor activities, and even before eating a meal.
Today’s Effort – Trust The Signs Of Thirst
Since water helps the body to function in all ways, let’s make sure we consume enough. To do this, we can listen to our body more and pay closer attention to when requests for water are being made. Some common water cries are: dry lips, dry skin, stiff joints, dry mouth, headaches, brain fog, sugar cravings, and stomach upset.
If you experience any of these or similar issues, try slowing drinking a glass of water.
Wait 10 minutes and see how you feel.
Begin the day with at least 8 oz of water to jump-start metabolism and help the body shed any stored toxins. Note how this made you feel. Were you more energized?
Maybe it promoted an elimination, or hunger was stimulated?
With summer coming, the temperature outside is rising and this has an affect on our bodies water retention, since it is now using more water to keep us cool. Help your body out and drink extra when exposed to long hours of heat and activity.
Of course, be mindful of mineral loss and micronutrients that are being expelled.
Try adding some lemons to your water for a boost of vitamins and polyphenols.
Stainless steal water bottles are great for on the go in summer, as they will keep water cool for hours. Klean Kanteen makes a great product with lots of various sizes, and even kid friendly options. https://www.kleankanteen.com/
Join us again next week for more hydration tips and a refreshing popsicle treat.
Be proud of yourself!
Join us every Sunday for the next edition of Starting Your Week Strong.
Learn about boosting brain health in last weeks’ blog Busy Bee
Are you curious about how to harmonize your health goals and fit wellness into your busy schedule?
Contact me today for more information about Today’s Effort Health Coaching.
Klean Kanteen https://www.kleankanteen.com/
Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate
The information shared in this article is not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any form of illness or disease. The opinions are the author’s alone and are not to be used as a guide to follow for any health related conditions, but rather a sharing of perspective.
Today’s Effort, and it’s authors, take no responsibility for the choices of individuals and encourages you to work alongside a trusted physician and or doctor with any health related issues.