Thursday, February 24, 2011

How Much Water Do We Need?

What are the Functions of Water in the Body?

Your body is estimated to be about two-thirds water. The bloodstream and the brain are 75% and 85% water, respectively. Every process in our body is dependent on water. If you do not supply enough water to your body, your brain cannot function well. The next time you have a headache; it may be a sign of dehydration, so go drink some water before you grab the meds.

The functions of water in human body are as follows:

• Transports nutrients and oxygen to every cell
• Helps the liver break down and release more fat
• Helps our organs to absorb nutrients better
• Regulates body temperature
• Detoxifies-removes waste and toxins from all cells
• Protects and moisturizes our joints and organs

How is Water Lost from the Body?

Water is lost through urination, sweating, and respiration. You lose additional water by using diuretics such as caffeine, caffeine pills, alcohol, and some medications.

What are Symptoms of Dehydration?

Symptoms of dehydration may include one or more of the following:

 Bloating
 Chronic pains in joints and muscle
 Constipation
 Dry skin
 False hunger
 Fatigue
 Headaches
 Itchy skin
 Lower back pain
 Thirst

You need water long before you feel thirsty. A strong odor to your urine, along with a yellow or amber color indicates that you may not be getting enough water. Note that riboflavin, a B vitamin, will make your urine bright yellow and give it a strong odor also.

Long-term dehydration has been linked to many chronic health problems including adult-onset diabetes, arthritis, asthma, back pain, cataracts, chronic fatigue syndrome, colitis, depression, heartburn, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, kidney stones, lupus, migraines, multiple sclerosis, and muscular dystrophy.

How Much Water Should You Drink Daily?

The following calculation is an estimate of how much water you should drink.

 Take your body weight in pounds and divide that number in half. That gives you the number of ounces of water per day that you need to drink. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds, you should drink at least 60 ounces of water per day.
 If you exercise you should drink an additional six to eight ounces of water for every 30 minutes you exercise.
 If you drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages, you should drink an additional amount of water equal to the beverage you drank.
 If you are traveling on an airplane, you should drink six to eight ounces of water for every hour you are on board the plane.
 If you live in an arid climate, such as in Nevada or Arizona, you should add another 12 – 16 ounces per day depending on your weight.

So a person weighing 120 pounds, exercising 30 minutes per day, and living in Nevada should drink 78 to 84 ounces of water per day or approximately 10 to 11 cups. Please keep in mind that excessive amounts of water can deplete your body of nutrients and even kill you if done in a short period of time.  This is never advisable so it is best to drink your day’s requirements spread throughout the day.

What are Acceptable Beverages for Meeting Water Needs?

The following are acceptable beverages for meeting your daily water consumption needs:

 Water is the best choice – filtered or spring water only.
 Herbal teas without caffeine.
 100% fruit juices – even better if you dilute with 50% water.
 Electrolyte drinks – stay away from high sugar ones.

Minimize alcohol, coffee, and black tea as they act as diuretics. Dairy milk is not an acceptable substitute either as it increases water needs. Sodas as a beverage should be eliminated completely as they are not only devoid of any nutritional value but are detrimental to your health.

To Your Health!
Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Resources:

Haas, E.M., M.D., (2004). The New Detox Diet: The Complete Guide for Lifelong Vitality with Recipes, Menus, & Detox Plans. Berkeley: Celestial Arts.

Jegtvig, S. (2007, March 15), Drinking Water to Maintain Good Health. Retrieved April 20, 2010 from  http://nutrition.about.com/od/hydrationwater/a/waterarticle.htm

Page, F., N.D., PhD., Detoxification: All You Need to Know to Recharge, Renew and Rejuvenate Your Body, Mind and Spirit. Carmel Valley: Traditional Wisdom.

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