Water Quantity

Are you drying up?

Our bodies are primarily dependent on water to function. Water makes up 60% of our body weight. Every system in our body uses water to carry nutrients to our cells and to remove toxins.

Water is an essential part of our bodies’ natural detoxification processes. Water is lost through perspiration, respiration, urination and digestion.  Inadequate amounts can lead to dehydration that prevents proper daily function and can cause decreased energy, light headedness, dry mouth, heart palpitations, nausea and vomiting. If left untreated, severe dehydration can result in seizures, brain damage and even death. It is very important to replenish your water supply to prevent these negative complications. Interestingly, one milliliter of water is needed to metabolize one calorie from the food we eat. Hunger and thirst can often send similar neurological signals to the brain and so occasionally we are actually thirsty at times when we feel hungry. Try a glass of water and see if it helps satisfy your craving.

How do we know how much water we are losing per day? The average person will lose about 1 liter (approximately 4 cups) through sweating, breathing and bowel movements and about 1.5 liters (roughly 6 cups) from urinary output. Food can usually account for about 20% of fluid intake. If you consume about 2 liters of water daily (nearly 8 cups), you can sufficiently replace the amount of water lost through elimination pathways. Exercise increases perspiration, so an extra 2 cups may be required depending on the intensity of the activity to compensate for the extra fluid loss. Hot environments also lead to increased sweating. Illness, accompanied by fever, vomiting, diarrhea or urinary tract infections will lead to additional fluids loss from the body. Your intake must be increased in these situations.

It is possible to drink too much water. The kidneys play an important role in water excretion. When the kidneys fail to remove the excess water, the mineral content in our blood becomes diluted. This can result in low sodium levels, a condition called hyponatremia. Endurance athletes and marathon runners are more at risk for this. Sodium is just one example of an electrolyte used by the body. Electrolytes are essential chemical substances necessary for all cells. Maintaining a proper balance is vital for daily function especially during the summer. The elderly are in particular more susceptible to humid temperatures.  In general, excessive thirst and increased urination can be indications of a more serious condition.

References:

  1. MayoClinic:  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/water/NU00283
  2. Canadian Living : http://www.canadianliving.com/health/nutrition/water_how_much_should_you_drink_every_day.php
  3. http://www.livestrong.com/article/41036-replace-electrolytes/#ixzz1tF6Jfa8k