Many people believe that it is possible to substitute flavoured drinks for water including juices, teas, coffees, and flavour crystals. This is not the case. Water is water. There is simply no substitute. There is a long standing belief that as long as you are not thirsty you are hydrated. This is also not the case. Often signs of thirst get confused with hunger pains. The actual thirst goes unnoticed. Let’s have a look at why it’s so important to drink water and stay hydrated!
How Much Water Should I drink
Most health experts recommend eight 8-ounce glasses of water to drink each day for adults. This equals to about 2 litres a day. It’s also easy to remember since it’s called the 8×8 rule. This would be the minimum amount of water to drink in a day for an adult.
This Hydration Calculator will help you to see if you are drinking enough water everyday. The calculator works out your hydration level based on the information you give about yourself and your daily drinking habits.
Drink Water To Avoid Dehydration
Seventy five percent of people in developed countries are dehydrated. Seventy percent of pre-school aged children drink no water at all during a day. Elderly dehydration is one of the most common reasons for hospitalization for people over 65 years of age. These figures should be frightening given the fact that our bodies are mostly made up of water.
Dehydration has been linked to a number of diseases including cancer, depression, gastroenteritis, and headaches. A simple increase in water consumption to five glasses a day has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer by 79%, colon cancer by 45%, and bladder cancer by 50%. Given the emphasis on preventative medicine these days, why don’t people drink more water?
Symptoms of Dehydration
How can you tell if you are dehydrated? The best way to assess if you are suffering from dehydration is to discover how your body is being affected by your water consumption.
Some symptoms of mild dehydration at 2% fluid loss are as follows:
- dark coloured urine
- flushed skin
- dry mouth
- dry skin
Mid level dehydration symptoms at 5% fluid loss include:
- increased heart rate
- increased respiration
- muscle cramps
- extreme fatigue
- muscle cramps
Extreme dehydration at 10% fluid loss needs immediate treatment. Some symptoms are:
- muscle spasms
- racing pulse
- chest and abdominal pain
Water Consumption and Health
In addition to reducing the risks of the above mentioned cancers water is also necessary for:
- increasing energy
- reducing toxins and waste
- protecting your heart
- helping digestion
- aiding circulation
Water is also responsible for the flow of the amino acid tryptophan into the brain where it is converted to serotonin which is necessary for many of the body’s functions such as blood sugar regulation, appetite control, blood pressure control, and regulating sodium intake in the body.
If tryptophan is not present in enough quantity in the brain, then serotonin levels decrease causing depression. Water causes an efficient rate of tryptophan to the brain making it a must in cases of depression. Tryptophan is also necessary for DNA repair. Dehydration decreases the ability of DNA to repair cells which can lead to an increase in cancerous cells. It suppresses the immune system causing problems identifying and destroying abnormal cells.
Dehydration can also cause headaches. The brain is 85% water and when it becomes dehydrated it causes an increase of blood flow to itself. This in turn expands the arteries in the vicinity allowing them to hold more blood. As the blood rushes to the brain, a headache begins.
Lose Weight Drinking Water
In many people, the thirst sensation is so weak that it is interpreted as hunger, causing the person to consume more calories than they actually need. In addition, mild dehydration slows down the metabolism by as much as 3%. Water consumption with meals also assists in controlling insulin release.
Drinking a glass of water before eating activates hormone sensitive lipase to break down fat for use as energy. It also assists in appetite reduction and allows the body to release water much more quickly. Drinking water will definitely help you loose weight!
It is suggested that in addition to the basic eight glasses of water a day those attempting to lose weight should add one glass for every 20 pounds of weight beyond their ideal weight.
The human body depends on proper hydration in order to balance its systems and maintain good health. It is such a simple thing to do and yet such an easy thing to forget. Now that you know why it’s so important to drink water, do your body a favour and go drink water!