by Loretta Homer, L.P.N.
Did you know water is the most essential and important nutrient in the body? It is involved in every bodily function and constitutes for 70 to 75% of human total body weight. So understandably, drinking plenty of fluids to maintain and replenish water levels is vital for things like muscle function, joint and brain protection, immune Health, digestion, and even mood. Fluids carry nutrients to your cells, flush bacteria from your bladder, and prevent constipation. Not to mention the positive benefits of healthier skin and hair.
Everyday you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine output, and bowel movements. In hot and humid weather, we become more susceptible to fluid loss which can lead to dehydration. Dehydration occurs when water going out of the body is not replenished. The signs and symptoms range from minor to severe and include: increased thirst, dry mouth and swollen tongue, weakness, dizziness, heart palpations, confusion, sluggishness, fainting, and decreased urinary output. When dehydrated, the human body does not function at its best and may be at risk for potentially life-threatening diseases.
The natural and best source for hydration is drinking water gradually, throughout the day. It is readily available, tasteless, free of calories and alcohol, and importantly, has no side effects. However, different people need different amounts of water to stay hydrated. Thirst isn’t the best indicator that you need to drink, if you get thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. The old “8×8” rule (eight, eight – ounce glasses of water) may not apply to everyone. If unsure of just how much water you should consume on a regular basis, consult with your physician.
Other sources of hydration include water rich foods such as cantaloupe, pineapples, oranges, raspberries, iceberg lettuce, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, and green peppers.
Taking a proactive approach to ensure adequate fluid intake is the key to staying hydrated. Don’t wait until your thirsty to drink. Here are some simple tips to make fueling up with fluid throughout the day a little easier:
- Keep a bottle of water with you;
- Add lemon or lime to water for taste if preferred;
- Drink water with meals;
- Drink water before, during, and after activities;
- Snack on water rich fruits and vegetables;
- Sip through a straw – some people find they mindlessly drink more water when they use straws;
- Avoid dehydrating foods and drinks such as processed foods and sweetened beverages;
Your body has many important jobs and it needs water to do many of them. Basically, staying hydrated is the easiest thing you can do to improve your physical and mental health. Now that’s something to drink about!
Published in the Daily Local News, July 10, 2017