Did you know that water makes up about 65% of a person’s total body weight. After oxygen, there’s nothing more important to our survival than water.
The primary mechanism that we maintain our proper hydration is through thirst. Thirst serves two functions: 1) to regulate the volume of water within our bodies and 2) to control the concentration of various salts like sodium and potassium within the body. Fluid is lost through urination, skin loss by sweating, respiration, and a small amount in the feces, unless someone has diarrhea and then a significant water loss may occur. If there is a loss of water by any of the above routes or if the concentration of the salts in the blood stream increases, then the thirst mechanism kicks in, which is a strong drive to consume more fluids.
How much water to drink every day?
You have heard from early childhood that you need to drink eight, eight ounce glasses a day. This is probably a myth that is perpetuated many years ago from the Food and Nutrition Board, which estimated that the average total fluid loss each day was 64-80 ounces. The Board did not mention that 20% of our intake of fluid comes from food. Therefore, you don’t have to consume all of your total intake as water.
In addition to thirst, the color of your urine will serve as an indicator of your state of hydration. If you are dehydrated, your urine will be dark and yellow. This is a sign to increase your water consumption and the urine will turn to white or light yellow, which is sign of adequate hydration. If you are in a hot environment or participating in sports and are sweating, you will want to check the color of urine when you complete the workout or sports event. If the color of your urine is dark, you know you are dehydrated and you need to consume more fluids. Athletes can lose up to two quarts of fluid through sweat each hour. So whenever you are in warm or hot environment and you are losing lots of fluids by sweating, you must make an effort to consume more fluids.
What about sports drinks
A sports drink beverage is designed to help athletes rehydrate when fluids are depleted after training or competition. Ideally the sports drinks are intended to replace the electrolytes that is lost in sweat during exercise and sporting events. Sports drinks usually contain a lower electrolyte concentration than found in sweat and can actually worsen the dilution of electrolytes. It is far easier to drink water and a salty snack.
Caffeine-Culprit or Cure ?
There is a myth that drinks with caffeine are dehydrating. The truth is that caffeine serves as a weak diuretic and promotes an increase in urine output and the fluid intake will more than compensate for the diuretic effect of the caffeine. Like most things in life, anything in moderation is acceptable and this includes caffeine.
What about bottled water?
Millions of Americans are drinking bottled water. $22 billion is spent each year throughout the world on bottled water. Bottled water, although up to 1,000 times the price of tap water, may be no safer, or healthier than tap water. A gallon of bottled water is $3.84\gallon making it as expensive as gasoline. In addition to the expense, 1.5 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water and toxic chemicals can be released during the manufacture and disposal of the bottles. Studies have confirmed that microbes, pesticides, and solvents have been detected throughout groundwater supplies, and have subsequently found their way into bottles.
The Environmental Protection Agency checks the water that is consumed by the public. In the United States the quality of the water is very safe. If you live in an area and drink well water, you will want to have the water checked for contamination on a regular basis. A number of private water wells sampled in Louisiana showed potentially unsafe levels of arsenic, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and pesticides, as well as secondary contaminants in standard system tests for pH, hardness, alkalinity, dissolved solids and manganese.
Bottom Line: Water is truly the elixir of life. Avoid dehydration by checking out the color of your pee. For the most part, tap water tastes just as good as bottled water and is a whole lot cheaper. Drink up!