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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Drink Lots of Water

Everyone knows that water is vital to the body. It hydrates you and quenches your thirst. As good as it is; are you getting enough? Are you properly hydrated every day? A new study has examined the importance of proper hydration for good health and performance and established a more accurate measurement of the body's water needs. Here's the refreshing update:

Entitled "Water as an essential nutrient: The physiological basis for hydration," the study starts with explaining the importance of hydration to the body. "Water is the major constituent of the human body. The latter cannot produce enough water by metabolism or obtain enough water by food ingestion to fulfil its needs. As a consequence, we need to pay attention to what we drink throughout the day to ensure that we are meeting our daily water needs, as not doing so may have negative health effects (E. Je´quier and F. Constant. 2009)." The study was first published on September 2, 2009 in an advance online publication of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Important from head to toe

The study highlights five uses of water to the body: (1) it's a vital component of our cells, (2) a necessary agent in the body's chemical processes, (3) a facilitator of all bodily functions including respiration and digestion, (4) regulates body temperature, and (5) lubricates joints and muscles for proper movement.

The study emphasizes the importance of drinking by citing the effects of dehydration or lack of water in your body. "It has been shown that mild dehydration corresponding to only one to two percent of body weight loss in adults can lead to a significant impairment in both cognitive function (alertness, concentration, short-term memory) and physical performance (endurance, sports skills) (E. Je´quier and F. Constant. 2009)."

So if you want to be at the top of your game all the time, don't exclusively rely on thirst to know if you're dehydrated. Mild to moderate dehydration manifests through a dry, sticky mouth, sleepiness or tiredness, decreased urine input, few or no tears when crying, muscle weakness, headaches and dizziness or light-headedness.

The solution to all this is simple enough, keep drinking even when you're not thirsty. But how do you know you're drinking enough? There's the old eight glasses of water a day rule, but is it correct?

According to the study, "Human water requirements are not based on a minimal intake as it might lead to a water deficit because of numerous factors that modify water needs (metabolism, climate, physical activity, diet and so on) (E. Je´quier and F. Constant. 2009)." What this means is that you shouldn't limit yourself to only 8 glasses a day because you need more based on your activities and the weather.

Instead, the study recommends the following intake levels: Male adolescents aged nine to 13 years need 1.8 L/day, 14 to 18 years old need 2.6 L/day and male adults at 3 L/day. Female adolescents aged nine to 13 need 1.6 L/day, 14 to 18 need 1.8 L/day and female adults at 2.2 L/ day. That converts to some 13 cups for male adults and nine cups for adult females.

Furthermore, the study states that this total water amount represents water, other beverages and water from food. The Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness (BIHW) conforms to this statement, "The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (IOM) does have specific recommendations for total fluid intake...which includes drinking water as well as the water obtained from all other foods and beverages."

All beverages hydrate, including your favorite juices, teas, soft drinks and foods like fruits, vegetables, soups and stews. The BIHW goes on to recommend that you "Choose beverages that you enjoy. Several studies show that children and adults consume about 45 to 50 percent more liquid when it's flavored vs plain water (www.thebeverageinstitute.org. 2009)."

The important lesson is that hydration must always be top of mind for optimum health. From now on, make it a habit to drink!

Source: Manila Bulletin

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