Water vital to many key body functions
July 23, 2013 3:20PM
Updated: August 25, 2013 6:11AM
Q: Why does my body need water and what is it used for?
A: Water is crucial to the human body and it is used for several different things. It is used to regulate the body’s temperature, cushion and protect vital organs and aid the digestive system. The muscle tissue in our body is made up of 75 percent water and our fatty tissue holds 10 percent, but water is also located within each cell to transport nutrients and dispel waste. This shows how important water is for our bodies! Since more than half of our bodies contain water, it is impossible to sustain life for more than a week without water.
Q: How do I know if I am getting enough fluids?
A: If you are not drinking enough fluids, dehydration can occur in your body. Dehydration is when your body does not have enough water. If you are experiencing thirst, this is the first signal that your body is already on its way to dehydration. It is important in hot conditions or if you are doing an intense workout to drink plenty of fluids, whether you are thirsty or not!
Other signs of dehydration include dry mouth, swollen tongue, weakness, dizziness, confusion, sluggishness or fainting. Dehydration can lead to muscle fatigue, loss of coordination and muscle cramps in athletes, which proves it is important to stay hydrated during rigorous exercise.
Q: How much water does my body need?
A: Your body loses water from perspiration, respiration, elimination and other body processes. In order to keep yourself properly hydrated, especially during hot summer months where you tend to sweat more, one must drink adequate amounts of fluid.
The Institute of Medicine recommends a daily water intake of 91 ounces for healthy women and 125 ounces for healthy men. Generally, an intake of about 8-10 cups for women and 10-12 cups for men daily will meet your needs.
Q: Can I only drink water to meet my fluid needs?
A: No! You can reach your daily fluid needs through beverages (80 percent) and also from foods (20 percent). Plain water is a great source of hydration but if you don’t like water you can stay hydrated by drinking milk, lemonade, juice, soft drinks, coffee, tea, sports drinks and other drinks. Keep how many sugary and caffeinated beverages you consume to a minimum.
Also limit alcoholic beverages, which are a diuretic that causes your body to lose water. You can also put a “twist” on plain water by adding freshly squeezed lemon, lime or orange juice or any other of your favorite cut-up fruits. You can also meet your fluid needs through various foods such as smoothies, soups, fruits and vegetables.
Some ideas for “watery” fruits and vegetables to enjoy are lettuce, watermelon, broccoli, grapefruit, carrots and apples.
Q: If I am exercising, how much water should I drink?
A: Always consult a healthcare provider before beginning an exercise regimen to get the appropriate health information tailored to your body. The American Council on Exercise gives tips to drink 17-20 ounces of water two to three hours before beginning exercise.
It also recommends drinking 8 ounces of fluid 20 to 30 minutes prior to exercise or during your warm-up. During exercise, 7-10 ounces of fluid should be consumed every 10 to 20 minutes. Drink 8 ounces of fluid within 30 minutes after exercising.
Another helpful hint to make sure that proper rehydration occurs after exercise is to weigh yourself before and after a workout and then drink 16-24 ounces for every pound of body weight lost during exercise.