Water is a vital component of our daily existence, and staying properly hydrated during the hot and humid months of summer is important — especially for active people of all ages. A good gauge to proper hydration is simple: Are you thirsty? If so, drink enough liquid to satisfy your thirst. If you are properly hydrated, your urine will be light yellow in color and of a normal quantity, indicating a normal water balance. Your urine may be darker if you are taking vitamin supplements; in that case, volume is a better indicator than color. People with heart, kidney, or liver problems should check with their doctor about the appropriate amount of fluids to drink. If you aren’t thirsty and urine volume and color are normal, drinking extra water is unlikely to be of benefit.
Depending on your age, health and activity level, you will need different amounts of water to stay appropriately hydrated. Water does far more for your body than just satisfy your thirst. Almost every body cell, tissue and organ needs water to function. In fact, water is the nutrient your body needs in the greatest amount. Commonly recommended daily water consumption is six to eight glasses of water. However, a variety of foods rich in water content can also keep you within a normal range, so less water intake may be OK. While drinks supply a good portion of your water needs, solid foods also provide a surprising amount. For example, the following foods by weight have the most water in them: lettuce (95 percent), watermelon (91 percent), broccoli (89 percent), grapefruit (89 percent), carrot (88 percent), apple (86 percent), yogurt (85 percent), rice, cooked (70 percent), cheddar cheese (37 percent).
Athletes must drink more water before, during, and after exercise than the average person. Consuming water before exercise is actually the most important time to drink — to stave off dehydration that can set in quickly. But drinking the correct amount of water is the key, especially when hydrating after a vigorous workout. There is such a thing as drinking too much water. Drowning your cells in too much water — and too quickly — can lead to a condition known as water intoxication and to a related problem resulting from the dilution of sodium in the body, hyponatremia. Therefore, a sports drink which contains some sodium may be appropriate especially if there will be a lot of water and salt loss from perspiration.
What happens during water intoxication?
From the cell’s point of view, water intoxication produces the same types of effects as would result from drowning in fresh water. An irregular heartbeat, tissue swelling and fluid entering the lungs results from an electrolyte imbalance. The water-related swelling puts pressure on the brain and nerves, which can cause behaviors resembling alcohol intoxication. Swelling of brain tissues can cause seizures, coma and ultimately death unless water intake is restricted and a hypertonic saline (salt) solution is administered. If treatment is given before tissue swelling causes too much cellular damage, then a complete recovery can be expected within a few days.
It’s not how much you drink, it’s how fast!
A healthy adult’s kidneys can process approximately 15 liters of water each day! You are unlikely to suffer from water intoxication, even if you drink a lot of water, as long as you drink over time as opposed to taking in an enormous volume at one time. As a general guideline, most adults need about three quarts of fluid each day, which comes from the water we drink and the foods rich in water content that we eat. You may need more water if the weather is very warm or very dry, if you are exercising, or if you are taking certain medications. The bottom line is this: it’s possible to drink too much water, but unless you are running a marathon or an infant, who may get too much water, too quickly, if infant formula is diluted too much, water intoxication is a very uncommon condition.
Learning what is best for your body, based on your own exercise regimen, how much your body needs based on weight, height and how fast to drink are hydration best practices to keep in mind this summer. Keep your body functioning normally and avoid dehydration by eating healthfully and by drinking your recommended amounts of water.
Filed Under: News