Proper hydration helps body function
By: Dr. Carl Miller, Superior Telegram
Dear Dr. Miller:
I hear a lot about the importance of remaining properly hydrated but I wonder how much water we actually need to drink every day. I have been told that beverages containing caffeine can actually contribute to dehydration, but what about sugar sweetened beverages?
There is no easy answer to the question of how much water we each need to drink each day. This depends on the season, where you live, your general health and the amount of activity you participate in each day. The amount of water you need will actually vary day to day. As we go through our normal daily routines, we lose water. Every system in our bodies depends on being properly hydrated so you are wise to take this question seriously.
According to the August issue of Mayo Clinic’s Women’s Health Source you will need more water if you have diarrhea, vomiting or any illness, especially one that is accompanied by a fever. If it is humid and very hot. you will need to increase your fluid intake and if you increase your physical activity you will need to drink more. High altitudes or even dry indoor air tend to result in less moisture in the air and will increase your need for hydration.
The amount of liquid that you need to consume each day is not easy to define. According to the Institute of Medicine an average healthy male needs about 13 cups of total beverage a day while an average healthy female needs about 9 cups. This might seem like a lot, but keep in mind that it does not all have to be consumed in the form of drinking glass after glass of water. Other drinks and even foods help contribute to hydration. Soups, tea, milk and juice are all options. Many foods such as melons, celery, tomatoes and oranges also help. Some fruits and vegetables contain up to 95 percent water. Because beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol tend to increase fluid output consuming them may make it more difficult to remain hydrated. Beverages that contain sugar will hydrate you but they may contribute to weight gain and tooth decay. Beverages that do not contain sugar or caffeine are recommended.
One rule of thumb is to drink at least a glass of water at each meal and make up the difference between meals, especially before and after exercise. Nutrition for everyone lists some excellent tips for increasing fluid intake. They advise carrying a water bottle that you will have easy access to. They also recommended getting freezer safe water bottles and taking frozen water with you for a cold beverage all day long. Some plastics are not safe to be used for this purpose so make sure the container you choose to freeze water in is safe. They also suggest ordering water as a beverage when you eat out. This will save both money and calories, and with a bit of lemon or lime added, it is quite delicious. If you substitute water for one 20-ounce soda, you will save as much as 240 calories.
Healthy adults are usually adequately hydrated when they do not experience thirst very often and their urine is almost colorless. If you have a dry mouth, headache or feel light-headed, you may be dehydrated. Sometimes people mistake their feelings of thirst for hunger. Those of you who are trying to control your weight should reach for a glass of water before reaching for a snack. You may be surprised to find that you were not hungry at all and all you needed was a drink of water.
Water is essential to the functioning of our bodies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention water is what keeps our body temperature normal. Our joints are cushioned and lubricated by water and our spinal cord and sensitive tissues are protected by it. It is used by our bodies to eliminate waste by flushing toxins out of our vital organs and carries nutrients to our cells. Our noses, ears and throat tissues need the moisture and water is also necessary for proper digestion, kidney function and is vital to the function of our brains.
It is not necessary for you to force yourself to drink more water than you feel like you can tolerate. While it is not a common occurrence, it is possible to consume too much water. According to CNN Health, if you drink too much water your kidneys may be unable to excrete the excess and this could dilute the electrolytes in your blood, causing your sodium levels to drop too low. This problem sometimes occurs in endurance athletes, but is rarely found in healthy American adults.
Your body will regulate the amount of water that you drink and will usually tell you when you need it. That’s what thirst is all about. When you get thirsty, have a drink and try to eat foods that are rich in water. Avoid caffeine and sugar sweetened beverages, and stay hydrated when in the heat or exercising. Use common sense and have a healthy and fun summer.
Please send questions to Lake Superior Chiropractic, 2121 E. Fifth St., Superior WI 54880.