Did you know that water makes up more than half of your body weight? Water is estimated to comprise about 60 to 70 percent of the human body. Our body depends on water for survival; it is an essential nutrient! Water has many important roles, and every cell, tissue and organ in our body need water to function. Our bodies use water to:
- Maintain body temperature
- Move nutrients and waste through the body
- Maintain normal blood pressure
- Protect, cushion and lubricate joints and organs
- Lower the risk of dehydration and heat stroke
Therefore, water is essential for good health!
Dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than the amount being taken in. It is a very common problem that results in electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes are important minerals required for proper body functioning, and when they are out of balance, you may experience sluggishness, fatigue, lightheadedness, weakness, nausea and/or headaches.
The amount of water you need depends on factors such as your environment, age, gender and level of physical activity. Experts go by the rule that the amount of water needed for good health is half your body weight in ounces of water each day. For instance, a person weighing 150 pounds would need to drink 75 ounces of water daily. But remember that you will need to drink even more fluids to stay hydrated in hot weather and when you’re physically active.
Tips for staying hydrated:
1. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, soda and sugary fruit juices.
Consuming any of these items can be dehydrating because they are diuretics—fluids that increase fluid loss through urination. These do not function as adequate fluids for increasing hydration because they dry us out and leach minerals from the body.
2. Keep a bottle of water with you during the day and drink from it regularly. You can fill up water bottles on campus at drinking fountains found in the gym, upstairs at the campus center, and in academic buildings.
3. Drink water on a schedule. Begin drinking fluids at breakfast and continue throughout the day until you go to bed.
4. Water is the best option for staying hydrated. Foods also have water in them, and some healthy choices for getting water are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains cooked in water, like oatmeal. Processed foods sometimes have water in them, but are not good ideas for maintaing hydration, as they have added sugars, calories, and sodium (which can make you more thirsty!).
If you don’t like plain water, try adding a slice of lemon to your drink.
5. While exercising, make sure to drink water before and during your workout. Continue to drink after your workout so that you replace all of the fluids you lost to sweat. Sports drinks are appropriate choice for those who work out vigorously for over an hour because they help to replace electrolytes lost in sweat.
Overall, there are many benefits of staying well hydrated!
- Higher energy levels, less fatigue, and improved mood
- More power and endurance during the day
- Stay cooler and feel better
- Better concentration and ability to focus
- Fewer headaches
- Improved immune system
- Improved digestion
- Healthier skin (improvement in acne and other skin problems)
So in our busy lives, we need to remember these tips to stay hydrated. Once hydrated, your body will be able to do all of its wonderful jobs, and you’ll feel great.
By Audrey Esser