Water for life. Living on a tropical island is nothing short of wonderful. Nice warm climate all year round, great beaches, great hikes and a ton of outdoor activities. We get lots of sun, and with that comes a lot of sweat and water loss. Now, I know this may seem like a silly topic however, you’d be surprised how many dehydrated people come through a doctor’s office. So, here is Office Staff’s guide on Water.
Why drink water?
About 60% of your body weight is water.
H2O is your body’s principal chemical component and EVERY system depends on water. For example, water flushes out toxins, carries nutrients to your cells and is imperative for keeping tissues moistened.
- Water helps to prevent constipation.
- Lubricates joints.
- Regulates body temperature.
- Water dissolves minerals and vitamins so your body can absorb them! (Vit. D3 dissolves in water.)
- Water carries oxygen to cells.
Sometimes I like to play the game of “what if my body didn’t have enough of…” We’ll do this for water.
What if my body doesn’t have enough water?
Symptoms of not enough water…
- Increased sleepiness and tiredness along with a general loss of energy.
- Dizziness and lightheadedness.
- Muscle weakness and fatigue.
- Dry, sticky mouth.
- Decreased urine output.
Symptoms of severe dehydration (considered a medical emergency)
- Little or no urination.
- Sunken eyes.
- Low blood pressure.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity. (To test this pinch the skin into a fold and it will not “bounce back” when lacking water).
- Lack of sweat.
- Delirium or Unconsciousness! (This is more commonly seen in the elderly population due to the body’s decreased ability to sense dehydration and send your brain signals of thirst.)
Dehydration is serious, call your healthcare provider right away if you are experiencing the more serious symptoms listed above or go to the nearest emergency room.
Now for the million dollar question:
How much water do I need to drink?
Unfortunately the research on this really varies. I am not too surprised on the general lack of consistent research because proper hydration depends on so many factors like: activity level, geographic location (tropical island vs. artic tundra), amount of water loss through sweat, urine and bowel movements, age, overall health, etc., therefore I will give some general guidelines and a couple common formulas that work well.
Generally speaking, it is not a good idea to use thirst alone as a guide for when to drink. By the time you are thirsty you may already be mildly dehydrated.
- Just to replace fluids lost in a day you will need to consume a little more than 8 cups of water a day (about 2 liters) along with your normal diet.
- 8 x 8 rule states that you drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day (meaning 8 cups of water a day).
8 cups of water a day is generally the magic number.
When you will need more than 8 cups a day.
- If you exercise (or do any activity that causes you to sweat) you will need to increase your 8 cups of water a day by about 1.5 to 2.5 cups. Totaling 9.5-10.5 cups a day. (If your exercise is marathon running then add even more fluids.)
- Increase your water intake if your environment is hot or humid (like a tropical island), heated indoor air during the wintertime for cold climates, and altitudes greater than 8,200 feet for those of you who live in the mountains.
- Certain illnesses like a fever, vomiting, diarrhea and urinary tract infections will require more water intake.
- Pregnant or breast-feeding women need to consume more water.
Does coffee, wine, beer, soda, tea, juice etc. count?
Although you will get SOME water from these beverages the caffeine, alcohol and chemicals found in them will require your body to do extra work to flush them out. Certain foods will also provide some water for your body, like watermelons and tomatoes.
The BEST way to hydrate your body is with plain old H2O!
Published on May 28, 2013