When we were kids in school, we learned that each molecule of water is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. We also learned that it was great fun to fill up our squirt guns with water, at least until the principal caught us. What we really didn't learn, however, was how much water we needed in order to be healthy human beings.
Why We Need Water
Our bodies are estimated to be about 60 to 70% water. Blood is mostly water, and our muscles, lungs, and brain all contain a lot of water. Water is needed to regulate body temperature and to provide the means for nutrients to travel to all our organs. Water also transports oxygen to our cells, removes waste, and protects our joints and organs.
Signs of Dehydration
We lose water through urination, respiration, and by sweating. If you are very active, you lose more water than if you are sedentary. Diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol cause us to lose water by tricking our bodies into thinking we have more water than we need.
Symptoms of mild dehydration include chronic pains in joints and muscles,lower back pain, headaches, and constipation. A strong odor to your urine, along with a yellow or amber color indicates that you are not getting enough water. (Note that riboflavin, a B Vitamin, will make your urine bright yellow.) Thirst is an obvious sign of dehydration and in fact, you need water long before you feel thirsty.
How Much Water To Drink
A good rule of thumb is to 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 160 pounds, you should drink at least 80 ounces of water per day. If you exercise you should drink another 8 ounce glass of water for every 20 minutes you are active. If you drink coffee or alcohol, you should drink at least an equal amount of water. When you are traveling on an airplane, it is good to drink 8 ounces of water for every hour you are on board the plane. If you live in an arid climate, you should add another 2 servings per day. As you can see, your daily need for water can add up to quite a lot.
The best source for water is plain, pure drinking water. Juices and sodas have a lot of sugar in them and aren't a good source, so if you drink them, they don't count towards your daily amount. Diet sodas aren't a good choice either. Herbal teas that aren't diuretic are fine. Sports drinks contain electrolytes and may be beneficial, just look out for added sugar and calories that you don't need.
Carry A Water Bottle
It may be difficult to drink enough water on a busy day. Be sure you have water handy at all times by keeping a bottle for water with you when you are working, traveling, or exercising. If you get bored with plain water, add a bit of lemon or lime for a touch of flavor. There are some brands of flavored water available, but some of them have sugar or artificial sweeteners which you don't need.
10 Reasons why drinking water is good for you
1. Get healthy skin. Drinking water moisturizes your skin from the inside out. Water is essential to maintaining elasticity and suppleness and helps prevent dryness.
2. Lose weight. Increased water consumption can help you control weight by preventing you from confusing hunger with thirst. Water will also keep your body systems working properly, including metabolism and digestion, and give you the energy (and hydration) necessary for exercise.
3. Flush toxins. By helping to flush toxins, appropriate water intake lessens the burden on your kidneys and liver.
4. Reduce your risk of a heart attack. Researchers at Loma Linda University in California studied more than 20,000 healthy men and women and found that people who drink more than five glasses of water a day were less likely to die from a heart attack or heart disease than those who drank fewer than two glasses a day.
5. Cushion and lube your joints and muscles. Water makes up a large part of the fluid that lubricates and cushions your joints and muscles. Drinking water before, during, and after exercise can also help reduce muscle cramping and premature fatigue.
6. Stay regular. Water helps prevent constipation by adding fluid to the colon and bulk to stools, making bowel movements softer and easier to pass.
7. Stay hydrated, get energized, and be alert. On average, most adults lose about 10 cups of fluid a day through sweating, exhaling, urinating, and bowel movements. Even minor dehydration can cause impaired concentration, headaches, irritability, and fatigue.
8. Regulate your body temperature. Perspiration is your body's natural mechanism to control body temperature. And to sweat, you need plenty of water.
9. Reduce your risk of disease and infection Water can help prevent kidney stones and reduce your chances of getting bladder, kidney, and urinary tract infections. One study found that women who drank more than five glasses of water a day had a risk of colon cancer that was 45 percent less than those who drank two or fewer glasses a day.
10. Get well. The traditional prescription to "drink plenty of fluids" when
you're sick still holds strong. Water can help control a fever, replace
lost fluids, and thin out mucus.