H2O - Let's Drink to Good Health

After the surprisingly hot weekend we have just had, and the hot weeks yet to come in Canberra it important to stay well hydrated. The past two Summers have been a bit dismal in relation to heat, however technically we are still in Spring and we are already experience temperatures above 30o C – just a taste of what is yet to come. As Canberrans we all love to swim whether it is in a pool, lake or down the coast at the beach. In these instances our skin is getting well hydrated from the outside, but what about staying hydrated from the inside? In these temperatures especially it is important to have a suitable supply of drinkable water.

 

The Breakdown

So what are the ins and outs you need to know about water to better understand why it is so crucial to our bodies? Well the Earth and the human body are both made up of two thirds water. So where does all this water go once inside the body?

  • 95% of the human brain is water
  • 82% of the blood is water
  • 90% of the lungs is water
  • 75% of muscles are water
  • 22% of bones are water

A mere 2% drop in our body’s water supply can lead to dehydration – mild dehydration such as this is one of the most common causes of daytime fatigue. If the body’s water levels drop by even just 20% this can result in death. Scary thought? Well drink up!!

Harmful Effects of Dehydration:

  • Fatigue
  • Migraines
  • Constipation
  • Muscle cramps
  • Irregular blood pressure
  • Kidney problems
  • Dry skin

Symptoms of Dehydration:

  • Dark urine – when you have drunk enough water your urine should be clear or pale, not dark yellow or orange
  • Thirst – it is always good to drink even when you are not thirsty, therefore you know you are always well hydrated
  • Dry skin – being the largest organ of the body, it requires a decent share of the water you drink. Just like when the Earth is in drought it becomes dry and cracked, well so too does your skin
  • Hunger – it is amazing how when most of us feel hungry we immediately go to the fridge, pantry or shops for food. However, in most cases our hunger is not caused by lack of food, but rather by dehydration and it is our body’s way of crying and saying “I want water NOW!” So before you reach for the food, have a glass of water instead
  • Fatigue – water is a sources of energy and will energise you if you drink an adequate supply on a daily basis

 

The Benefits

  • Water acts as a lubricant in digestion and almost all other body processes
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Removes harmful toxins from the body through urination and perspiration. Water also reduces constipation and aids in bowel movements.
  • Drinking an adequate amount of water also decreases the burden on the kidneys and the liver by flushing out waste
  • Water transports valuable nutrients all over the body. As the blood is made up of 82% water it is important to drink enough, because if you don’t your blood can become thick resulting in lack of nutrient transport, blood clots and poor circulation.
  • Detoxifies and cleanses our body, as well as helps protect vital organs
  • Water also plays an important part in the prevention of disease. For example according to research drinking 8 glasses of water daily can decrease the risk of colon cancer by 45%, bladder cancer by 50% and it can even potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer. This is only a few examples of the diseases water can prevent or reduce the risk of.

 

How Much to Drink

Many people say 6-8 glasses of water per day, but is it really as simple as that? The answer is no. How much water each of us drink as individuals depends on a variety of factors such as weight, exercise levels, health condition, environment and climate. We all use quite a lot of water through sweating, exhaling and urinating, especially if we have high activity levels.

If you minus the environmental, climatic factors and activity levels there is a simple equation you can use to determine the MINIMUM amount of water you should drink per day based on your weight. Obviously if you exercise, live in a hot climate or live somewhere where pollution is high you should increase your water intake above the minimum based on the following equation:

              Your weight in kilograms ÷ 30 = water to drink per day in litres

                                 Example: 75kg ÷ 30 = 2.5L water/day

Try to spread out your water evenly throughout the day, talking smaller sips rather than large gulps. This will ensure that the water doesn’t go straight through you and into the toilet, but gets absorbed and used efficiently in the body. The body can only process so much water at a time, which is why it is important to drink regularly as opposed to larger amounts every hour or two.

As water is so important to our health, it is important that the quality is high. Try opting for filtered, spring or rain water over water from the tap which generally contains many harmful chemicals to our bodies.

So remember over this hot season especially to drink (WATER) to good health.