Mayo Health Care
Water and Your Health
Here's a question you've heard many times before: How many glasses of water do you drink each day? Two, three, four. more? You've heard it so often because it's a very important question, prompting you to think about the amount of water you consume, urging you to drink more. Get the basics right, like eating a balanced diet, regular moderate exercise, rest and relaxation, fun and laughter, and life can be free of illness and poor health. Water consumption is one of these essential basics. If you want long-term good health, read on, we're going to give you all the evidence you need to encourage you to drink water, as recommended by the experts: 6-8 large glasses a day! Why you need a fresh daily supply At any one time, between 55 and 75% of your body weight is water. Your body's need for water is second only to it's need for oxygen! Take a look at why you need so much of this life-giving liquid: It assists the digestion, absorption and elimination of the food you eat It assists the excretion of waste from your bowel and kidneys It regulates your body temperature 24/7 It lubricates your joints and membranes Blood is your body's transport system, constantly distributing nutrients around the body Your blood is made up of approximately 92% water Body secretions and digestive juices are almost entirely water (your digestive system produces approximately 1.
7 litres of saliva each day) Because of these many important tasks, in normal conditions your body needs between 1 and a half to 2 litres of water daily, in order to function optimally. This daily amount is also affected by your size, diet, how active your lifestyle is and even the weather conditions! The list below shows how your body loses water: Through exhaling, perspiring and elimination (urine, faeces) your body lose 1.7 litres daily In hot weather, perspiration increases so more water is needed to help regulate body temperature and keep you feeling cool During cold weather, additional moisture is lost through breathing For each hour of physical activity, you need and extra 1-3 glasses of water Central heating has a drying effect, so you need to drink more, or turn down the heat DID YOU KNOW? Water is a natural appetite suppressant. Lack of water can lead to over eating, this is because your brain doesn't differentiate between hunger and thirst, so when you think you are feeling hungry, chances are, your body really needs water, so drink a large glass of water before you eat. In most cases, you will probably find this will satisfy what you thought were hunger pains.
Are you Dehydrated? You can probably appreciate by now that many, many people are walking around in a constant state of dehydration! So is your body gasping for water? How would you know? You can check for yourself below - we've started with the most common symptoms, right through to the more severe symptoms: Headaches A major function of water is to flush toxins from the body. Your brain is 75% water, so even being slightly dehydrated can cause headaches. Poor Concentration/Fatigue If your body is overloaded with toxins and not enough water to flush them out, you will feel less energetic while your body struggles with the toxins. Constipation Water speeds the process of elimination adding bulk to the stool, so drinking adequate fluid assist the flow and regularity. Reduced urine Output/Dark Urine The kidneys filter waste products out of the blood. Amazingly, approximately 180 litres of water is recycled by the kidneys daily! This process relies on an adequate fresh supply, without it, output of urine is reduced, waste products become more concentrated, resulting in darker urine. Furry tongue/bad breath If not enough fluid is passing through the mouth to wash away food particles, bacteria builds up in the throat and mouth, and on the tongue as a white film of fur. Dry Mouth Saliva lubricates the mouth, dehydration reduces the amount available. In More Severe Dehydration Muscle Cramps This happens when not enough oxygen is getting to the muscles via the blood stream because of insufficient water in the body. Skin If there is not enough water to feed the skin, it loses elasticity.
Test by pulling the skin on the back of your hand, it should snap back instantly. Eyes Sunken eyes and dark skin around/under the eyes are a sign of severe dehydration. Get Into a Life-Long Water Habit Your aim is to drink water consistently throughout the day. Avoid drinking too much water at once, or too fast, because it will pass through you with little benefit to your body. For the first few days you may experience more frequent trips to the toilet, this is because your body isn't used to being so well hydrated and needs time to adjust. You should also begin to notice a reduction in weight and centimetres, as your body's water stores become redundant and gradually release their cargo! TIP If you don't have a water cooler/dispenser at work, take a two litre bottle with you each day - it will also help you monitor your water intake. Water is your body's life force, without it, you would literally dry up! WATER RETENTION Don't overlook water retention. The less water you drink, the more the body will try to store water for later use. This will result in water retention as the body cells swell with their precious water stores, giving the appearance of 'extra weight' TAKE ACTION NOW Choose your Source Wisely Some fluids work against hydration COFFEE - TEA Coffee and traditional teas contain caffeine, which produces increased urine output and is therefore a dehydrating agent. The more you drink, the quicker water will pass through your body.
DIET DRINKS Diet drinks contain artificial sweeteners in place of sugar. These sweeteners send confusing messages to the brain that food (energy) is on the way to the stomach, but because sweeteners contain no calories, no energy arrives, so the brain sends out hunger messages until food finally arrives. People who drink diet sodas on a regular basis therefore tend to eat to much. FRUIT JUICES We generally think of fruit juices as being good for us, but in reality, they are sugar water. fruit is always far healthier when eaten in it's whole, fibre and nutrient-rich form. if you do drink fruit juice, dilute 50/50 with water to reduce the sugar content. Beware of fruit cordials/squashes, which are usually sugar-saturated or contain artificial sweeteners - check the labels.
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