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Water and Your Body

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In this article Allen Tripp looks at why we need water and how it can effect our performance and energy.

Introduction to Hydration and its Importance

It has been proven through various studies that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated (but is that an excuse for the Sabres?). Also, it is perceived that the thirst mechanism is so weak that in 37% Americans it is often mistaken for hunger. People seem to go about their busy lives without notice to how much water they intake on a day to day basis. I have noticed from personal experience that people tend to drink when they have food in front of them. This is the wrong way to keep hydrated. 1-2 glasses of water should be had between each meal, as well as during each meal. The recommended daily intake for every human being is one gallon of water a day. This equates to roughly 8, 500ml bottles. 8 Bottles of water a day does sound like a lot. Why are we in need of so much?; you may ask. Let me tell you through these simple facts…

  • Lack of water is the number one trigger of daytime fatigue
  • Water helps prevent certain diseases (climate related)
  • Water improves performance

The above are few of the many facts of why we should drink water. One can truly see why water is of utmost importance, but let’s elaborate on some of these categories.

Water and Fatigue

Fatigue, in most peoples’ lives is blamed on a stressful work or at home environment. People tend to overlook the fact that they may be doing something wrong and that their nutritional intake may be amiss. A common cause of fatigue could be that people are not getting enough carbohydrates in their diet (low carb/no carb diets will do this), but there is one essential nutrient that most overlook - WATER. Dehydration has been proven to reduce blood volume (hypotension), thereby causing extreme tiredness and potentially fainting. You can easily see why fluid intake is important in any human-being, and more important in any human-being that leads an active lifestyle. The recommended intake of water before exercising is 1-2 cups, followed by ½ to 1 cup every 15 minutes of exercise. Post workout you should have a full bottle to replenish fluids lost during exercise. When your body is moving and straining itself - it loses fluids through perspiration. When we sweat, we sweat out toxins through water. It is important to replenish after your body loses that fluid to ensure that your body is running “up to speed” and does not wear out. The way your body lets you know that you need water is through thirst. However, one important thing to remember is that - when thirst occurs, you are already dehydrated! That is why it is important to maintain frequent fluid intake, and drink even after you have quenched your thirst.

Water and Climate

Our body sweats through any kind of physical activity, in any kind of environment. In humans, sweating is a means of thermoregulation (maintaining normal body temperature in different weather conditions). Evaporation of sweat from the skin has a cooling effect on the body. When we work out in increased temperatures, our body sweats more because of “latent heat” (the amount of energy in heat form). Our body sweats to maintain a safe and normal body temperature in severe conditions. When we train in colder weather conditions, sweating is at a decrease because our bodies are at a cooler temperature as opposed to a warmer temperature and less sweat is needed to keep the body normal. The danger of training in too warm of weather is the risk of “hyperthermia” (heat stroke). This occurs when the heat-regulating mechanisms of the body are overwhelmed by the over-heated environment and cannot cool the body. Where as training in too cold of temperatures can produce the opposite disorder - “hypothermia”. In cold weather, we still sweat, but not to the same extent as in warm weather. In cold weather, we develop a “cold sweat” because sweat is supposed to keep our body cool. This combined with cold weather leads to hypothermia. These are good reasons why an athlete or anyone - for that matter, should remain well hydrated. With age, our body is less able to regulate temperature and therefore it is necessary to drink even more water.

Water and Performance

In severe cases, you can even faint - due to lack of blood flow to the brain (which can be very serious).

Humans are made up of approximately 75% water. It is important to understand that water is a vital part of our lives, and any slight decrease of water can affect both our physical and mental performance. Aside from sport, lack of water can have negative affects on our intelligence. It has been stated that a mere two percent decrease in our total amount of water can attribute to fuzzy short term memory, difficulty with basic math problems, and impaired focus on computer screens or paper documents (which reminds me, have I got any spelling mistakes?).

As I previously mentioned (and will now go into more detail about) cardiovascular and muscular fatigue. Lowering blood pressure is attributed to inadequate intake of fluids. In muscular and cardiovascular exercise, normal blood pressure is critical. If your blood pressure is abnormally high, you put yourself at risk of a heart attack or a stroke when or when not performing regular tasks. When blood pressure is at a low, you become fatigued and will struggle with your usual weight-room routine or a 3 killometre run more so than normal. In severe cases, you can even faint - due to lack of blood flow to the brain (which can be very serious). Muscle cells have the highest water content of a whopping 70%; also it serves as a lubricant in your joints and is therefore essential to those that are lifting heavy loads of weight, running competitively, or involved in any kind of organized sport. Another useful tip is to stay away from caffeine and alcohol as they dehydrate . It has also been proven that increased water intake can enhance protein synthesis, thereby creating an anti-catabolic effect.

To conclude my article, here are some other facts on water.

  • Your body is ~ 70% water.
  • Water is essential for every bodily process
  • Water carries nutrients to cells and waste matter from the body
  • Water is a natural lubricant to limbs and joints
  • Water helps to metabolize fat

In Conclusion

I have gone over many of the beneficial uses of water and exercise. Water is one of the 6 essential nutrients, and is recognized as that simply because: it is essential (tricky there wasn’t I?). Through the reduction of fatigue, regulation of body temperatures, lubrication of limbs and joints, and increased performance through sport and training - water is obviously a must and nothing can provide a better substitute to clean, pure water.

References:
Understanding the Importance of Hydration? (No Author mentioned)
Retrieved on Nov. 21st, 2007
http://www.extremenutrition.co.uk/news_and_articles/understanding-import...
Paula Anne Ford-Martin (2002) Fatigue
Retrieved on Nov. 21st, 2007
http://www.healthatoz.com/healthatoz/Atoz/common/standard/transform.jsp?... =/healthatoz/Atoz/ency/fatigue.jsp
The Facts on Water and Exercise (No author mentioned)
Retrieved on Nov. 21st, 2007
http://www.aarp.org/health/fitness/work_out/the_facts_on_water_and_exerc...
Thermoregulation (No author mentioned)
Retrieved on Nov. 21st, 2007
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoregulation#Cold
Chris Zaino - Hydrate Yourself to a Better Body
Retrieved on Nov. 21st, 2007
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/zaino15.htm

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