October 22

Dehydration, Why is Water so Important for our Health?

Recently I suspected I was slightly dehydrated so I began drinking a lot more water every day. I feel transformed! I was actually quite dehydrated. I struggle to drink enough water. Something so simple but easily overlooked.

I am less sore after my daily workouts (which have increased in intensity). I have gone from feeling like staying in bed some days to feeling full of energy, my bloated belly has disappeared and my digestion has improved. I am getting a deeper sleep every night, I don't wake with a dry mouth and I am no longer hungry ALL THE TIME!!! Obviously, my poor dehydrated body crying out for water. 

The most noticeable improvement has been my knees which had become quite achey. This was noticeable after only two days. It can take a few weeks for every tissue in the body to regain full hydration so I am looking forward to how I will feel over the next month.

Signs of Dehydration:

  • feeling thirsty
  • dark yellow and strong-smelling pee
  • feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • feeling tired
  • a dry mouth, lips and eyes
  • peeing little, and fewer than 4 times a day

Water is your body's principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Water is essential to good health. Your body uses water to carry nutrients to your cells, to help regulate body temperature, maintain correct function of internal organs and tissues and other bodily functions. Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must rehydrate by consuming beverages and foods that contain water. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.

Water Protects Your Tissues, Spinal Cord, and Joints

Water does more than just quench your thirst and regulate your body's temperature; it also keeps the tissues in your body moist. You know how it feels when your eyes, nose, or mouth gets dry? Keeping your body hydrated helps it retain optimum levels of moisture in these sensitive areas, as well as in the blood, bones, and the brain. In addition, water helps protect the spinal cord, and it acts as a lubricant and cushion for your joints.

Water Helps Your Body Remove Waste

Adequate water intake enables your body to excrete waste through perspiration, urination, and defecation. The kidneys and liver use it to help flush out waste, as do your intestines. Water can also keep you from getting constipated by softening your stools and helping move the food you've eaten through your intestinal tract. Water is also necessary to help you digest soluble fibre. With the help of water, this fibre dissolves easily and benefits your bowel health by making well-formed, soft stools that are easy to pass. Proper digestion makes minerals and nutrients more accessible to the body.

How much water should you drink every day?

It's a simple question with no easy answers. Studies have produced varying recommendations over the years, but in truth, your water needs depend on many factors, including the climate you live in, how physically active you are, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and whether you're experiencing an illness or have any other health problems.

Although no single formula fits everyone, knowing more about your body's need for fluids will help you estimate how much water to drink each day.

  • Exercise. If you exercise or engage in any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to compensate for the fluid loss. How much additional fluid you need depends on how much you sweat during exercise, and the duration and type of exercise.
  • Intense exercise. During long bouts of intense exercise for example, running a marathon, it's best to consume drink that contains sodium, as this will help replace sodium lost in sweat and reduce the chances of developing hyponatremia. Also, continue to replace fluids after you're finished exercising. (Add a pinch of Himalayan Mountain Salt and lemon juice to your water bottle.)
  • Environment. Hot or humid weather can make you perspire more and requires additional intake of fluid. Heated, dry indoor air also can cause your skin to lose moisture during wintertime. Further, altitudes greater than 2,500 meters may trigger increased urination and more rapid breathing, which use up more of your fluid reserves.
  • Illnesses or health conditions. When you have fever, vomiting or diarrhoea, your body loses additional fluids. In these cases, you should drink more water. You may also need increased fluid intake if you develop certain conditions, including bladder infections or urinary tract stones. On the other hand, some conditions, such as heart failure and some types of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases, may impair excretion of water and even require that you limit your fluid intake. Check with your doctor.
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are used especially when nursing. Check with your doctor.

Most people who are in good physical health get enough fluids by drinking water when they're thirsty, and also by sipping a glass with each of their meals. If you're not sure about your hydration level, look at your urine. If it's colourless or light yellow, your fluid intake is probably adequate. If it's dark, you're probably dehydrated.

Although uncommon, it is possible to drink too much water. When your kidneys are unable to excrete the excess water, the electrolyte (mineral) content of the blood is diluted, resulting in low sodium levels in the blood, a condition called hyponatremia.

Endurance athletes, such as marathon runners who drink large amounts of water, are at higher risk of hyponatremia. In general, though, drinking too much water is rare in healthy adults who eat a typical diet.If you are concerned about your fluid intake or have health issues, check with your doctor. She or he can help you determine the amount of water that's right for you.

Tips to Avoid Dehydration:

  • Drink when you’re thirsty. Thirst is a natural urge that should be heeded. It means your body needs water. This urge can often be confused with hunger, drinking plenty of water will enable you to recognise your true hunger cues.
  • Sip water throughout the day. If you chug too much water at once your body doesn’t actually absorb all of it. Most of it will run right through you.
  • You don't need to rely only on what you drink to meet your fluid needs. What you eat also provides a significant portion of your fluid needs. On average, food provides about 20 percent of total water intake. Smoothies and soups are water rich meals.
  • Sip water before, during and after exercise
  • Drink filtered water. There is an increasing amount of Oestrogen in tap water due to women excreting their contraceptives.
  • Make water more interesting, add your favourite fresh fruits —cucumbers, limes, lemons, berries, mint, etc to a jug of water and keep it beside you. Or make a pot of caffeine free herbal tea.

I hope I have inspired you to drink more water daily. Check out my Pinterest Board with all of my other blog posts here.

Emma x

Why is Water so Important for Our Health?

Meet Emma

Hi, I am Emma McAtasney, a NCEHS Personal Trainer since 2009. I earned my Pilates credentials through BASI Pilates, a highly respected college-level Pilates teacher training programme which aim is to create and maintain professional standards for the teaching of the Pilates Method to the highest calibre.

In addition, I am a prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist, nutritionist and founder of a boutique Pilates studio in Dundalk, Ireland.

I help my clients eat healthier, ditch fad diets and lose weight for good by guiding them to make small manageable changes that long term have a huge impact on their quality of life!

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