The Immense Importance of Water

By Linda Brown, Austin Fit, Organizer/Director

Water, water everywhere, nor a drop to drink. These famous words by Samuel Taylor Coleridge reveal a lot more than the state of the sailor of the poem ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. It shows the importance of water to human survival. While the human body may consist 70% water content, it still needs huge amounts of water supply every day to help it sustain this water content and help the body operate normally. Whereas, deficiencies of nutrients such as the macronutrients, vitamins and minerals may take weeks or even years to develop.

The importance of proper water hydration cannot be stressed enough. While our body is extremely flexible on various levels, it still finds it difficult to adapt to dehydration. Even moderate level of dehydration is sufficient to impair the physiological functions of the body. Several studies have shown that fluid loss as little as 2% of body weight can adversely affect circulatory functions and decrease body’s performance, at times causing lasting problems. Some effects of dehydration include: Decreased blood volume; increased heart rate; decreased performance; decreased blood pressure; decreased sweat rate; increased core temperature water retention; sodium retention; decreased cardiac output; decreased blood flow to the skin; increased perceived exertion; increased use of muscle glycogen.

On the other hand, consuming an adequate amount of water gives numerous benefits to the body. It improves the endocrine gland functions of the body and alleviates fluid retention. It also improves the functioning of the liver and helps it stay healthy by increasing the percentage of fat used for energy. Also, if you feel you are not thirsty and don’t need water, it could be because you have not had water for awhile and therefore the natural thirst of the body is affected. Further, if you consume water, you will realize that the natural thirst of the body for water returns with the first few sips. Water consumption improves the metabolic functions of the body and helps redistribute the critical nutrients to their throughout the body. Not only this, water consumption also maintains the blood volume in our body, which is a major supplier to its development.

Lastly, and probably the most importantly, water consumption is the most important supplement that helps us maintain and regulate our body temperatures. So no matter how many clothes we might wear or take off, if we truly want to protect ourselves from cold and heat, improve body temperature regulation by drinking more water.

A good way to keep track of how much fluid is needed is to first determine average daily weight. Use this number as the standard for your normal state. Sedentary men and women should consume on average approximately 13 cups and approximately 9 cups of water per day, respectively. If you’re participating in a fat loss program, drink an additional 8 ounces of water for every 25 pounds you carry above your ideal weight.

Runners and other athletes should drink even more to maintain sufficient body weight index. Ideally, we should consume 14 to 22 ounces of fluid 2 hours before exercise and drink 6 to 12 ounces of fluid for every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise. If exercise exceeds 60 minutes, use of a sports drink can replace both fluid and dwindling muscle glycogen. Though, when exercising for less than 60 minutes, water is the experts’ choice for fluid replacement.

The key goal of drinking more water during and after exercise is to replace the losing sweat and urine water content in our body. Ingest 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight loss after an exercise bout, especially if rapid re hydration is necessary, as in twice-a-day training. If a fairly regular daily pattern of exercise and water and food consumption is followed, average body weight will provide a very good index of the body’s state of hydration. So don’t bank on the evening drinks for your body’s fluid content. Drink some water in the day to stay healthy and happy.

Drink up!