ESTIMATED READING TIME 4 MINUTES
Are you adequately hydrated? Water is essential for so many different functions in a healthy body, yet many people don’t release they’re lacking water.
Water makes up half of your body weight, approximately three-quarters of the volume of your brain, and around 90% of the volume of your blood. You can survive for some time without food, yet only a few days without fluids.
Read on to find out more about the importance of proper hydration for optimal health.
You’re constantly losing water during the day through urine, sweat and exhaled breath, so it’s important to replace this fluid. Diarrhoea, a fever or vomiting will all increase the amount of water lost from your body.
Because water balance needs to be so carefully controlled, your body has developed sensitive homeostatic mechanisms to control its levels of fluids. Your brain senses tiny changes in your body’s fluid volume and concentration, responding by prompting you to drink more. At the same time, hormones are produced instructing your kidneys to reabsorb more water, reducing the volume excreted in your urine. This system relies on effective communication between the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in your brain, your adrenal glands and your kidneys. This communication is occurring without your knowledge, every second of every day.
The earliest signs of dehydration show themselves in effects on your brain like lack of concentration, poor alertness, headaches and fatigue. This is because too little water reduces blood volume, so decreasing the oxygen and nutrients available to the brain. Dehydration often causes confusion, especially in older people.
As dehydration progresses, you may experience dry mouth and lips, light-headedness, rapid breathing and increased heart rate. Muscle weakness and cramps may occur because water is needed for the orderly contraction and relaxation of muscle fibres.
Longer term, dehydration is associated with constipation and urinary tract infections. Sufficient fluid is necessary to support healthy liver and kidney function – kidneys do their job better if there’s adequate water. Without sufficient fluids, your body is less efficient at eliminating toxins, both those from the environment and ones naturally produced from cellular metabolism, because they need to be suspended in water to allow effective detoxification to take place.
Water is essential to transport nutrients around your body and it’s involved in millions of biochemical reactions in your body. It lubricates your joints – synovial fluid, crucial for cushioning, along with the cartilage lining your joints both contain large amounts of water. Your body needs water to regulate your temperature, so if you’re dehydrated, your body temperature may rise.
Water is the main constituent of saliva, so it’s required to initiate the process of digestion and to keep your mouth healthy. Meanwhile, moisturised, plumped-up skin needs sufficient water.
Research has even found proper hydration contributes to a healthy body weight, with chronic dehydration associated with weight gain. This may be connected with blood glucose control. When you’re dehydrated, your body produces a hormone called vasopressin, not only telling your kidneys to retain water but also encouraging your liver to release stored sugar. Over time this can lead to high blood glucose levels and insulin resistance, both correlated with weight gain and type 2 diabetes.
Your water requirement is totally individual to you because it depends on your age, gender, body size, activity level, metabolism, the temperature of your environment and the amount of water contained in the food you eat.
You might have seen recommendations to drink two litres of water per day – this figure is arbitrary and not scientifically based, but it’s a good starting point. One way of gauging whether you’re drinking enough water is the colour of your urine. Ideally, it should be a pale straw-like colour.
Keep a refillable bottle nearby so you remember to drink regularly throughout the day. And bin the plastic bottles – use a glass bottle instead, because chemicals released by plastic can leach out into the water, especially if the bottle is reused.
Because tap water can be contaminated with environmental chemicals and often has substances such as chlorine and fluoride added, it makes sense to filter your water to avoid drinking contaminants.
Coconut water is excellent for hydration because it contains electrolytes like potassium, sodium and magnesium. Vegetable juices are great, too, because they contain not only water but also the minerals naturally contained in the vegetables. Tea, coffee and sweet drinks don’t count towards your daily fluid intake, because caffeine is a mild diuretic, causing water to be lost from your body in urine. Sweetened drinks, particularly those containing fructose, can adversely affect kidney function, worsening dehydration.
Good health starts with proper hydration. If you would like natural one-to-one support for your physical and mental health, contact us today.
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