​Ahhhh, WATER

May 25, 2020

You’ve heard it before, many of us don’t drink enough water. It’s constantly encouraged yet most of us are still deficient and don’t consume enough. Instead we turn to more flavorful drinks that may fulfill our palate, but don’t meet our needs.

Water is important because it provides the medium our blood needs to transport nutrients and waste products. This is how so many reactions can occur in our body because of blood circulation and its medium, water. Water also serves as a catalyst to speed up enzymatic interactions, a lubricant to decrease friction such as for the eyes and spinal cord, a temperature regulator to help us cool, and is even a source of minerals. Half of our bodies are made up of water so you can imagine how important it is to maintain it.

Luckily, thirst is a guide our bodies use to tell us we’re dehydrated, but we don’t usually notice it until we’ve lost 1-2% of body water. Even slight dehydration can reduce our strength, endurance, and cognitive performances. Once we’ve lost more than 2% of body water, we’ll start to notice headaches, fatigue, dizziness, low blood pressure, or rapid heart rate. Once we’ve lost 5% of body water, we can experience heat exhaustion, cramping, fatigue, and reduced mental capacity. Death can occur from 10%-20% loss of body water.

Most of us need 12 cups (3 liters) of water a day, but luckily many of us get 4 cups of that just in the food we eat especially if it’s higher in whole foods like fruits and vegetables. This means that 8 cups (2 liters) of water a day is a good standard for people to reach for. For a more precise measurement, take your weight in pounds and divide it by two. That’s how many ounces of water you need daily.

Once you have determined how much you should be drinking on a normal day, consider diet, environment, activity, and overall health changes that can fluctuate. Higher activity, salty foods, warmer environments, or certain health conditions mean you’re going to need a higher water intake. For example, every pound of sweat you lose in exercise or walking outside on a hot day needs two cups of water to replenish.

Not only is hydration important in exercise, but so is electrolyte balance. Obviously when we exercise, we lose both water and salts, but more so water. Our blood volume lowers when we’ve lost water through sweating. If we sweat enough, we are losing a significant amount of salts too. If we replenish over and over with just water, we are susceptive to hyponatremia, which means having too little sodium in relation to water. This is more susceptive with athletes who perform in longer endurance events especially in hot or humid climates. Symptoms of hyponatremia include nausea, vomiting, headaches, swollen hands/feet, confusion, or restlessness. This is why it’s important in higher risk circumstances to replenish with an electrolyte solution that includes minerals like sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

In summary, keep up with your water intake on a daily basis. Drink an additional 2 cups for every pound you think you may have sweat in activity. Replenish with electrolytes when needed on high intense and hot days. Don’t care for the taste of standard water? Infuse with cucumber, citrus fruits, or strawberries for added flavor. Whatever helps get the job done.

Stay hydrated!

Dr. Brit MacLennan

Arvada Sport and Spine Group

Tags: water

Category: Health