Monday, February 20, 2012

What's Eating You? Day 6 Water: The Life Sustainer

Proper hydration is critical for sustaining life. Since the human body loses water daily through urination, defecation, expired breath, sweating, and evaporation, it is very important to monitor fluid intake. The average adult requires 96 ounces (3 quarts) of water per day at a minimum. Level of physical activity, diet, climate, and health condition may require the body to increase or decrease fluid intake. Drinking adequate amounts of water has the following positive effects on the body:

  • Endocrine gland function increases
  • Fluid retention is alleviated
  • Liver function improves
  • A higher percentage of body fat is used for energy resulting in weight loss
  • Natural thirst returns
  • Appetite decreases
  • Metabolic functions improve
  • Nutrients are well distributed throughout the body
  • Body temperature regulation improves
  • Blood volume is maintained

Any of the following factors may lead to dehydration:
  • Inadequate fluid intake
  • Exercise in hot/humid climates
  • Consuming beverages high in caffeine content
  • Excessive protein intake
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Consuming excess sodium
  • Use of laxatives/diuretics
  • Prolonged physical activity without fluid replacement

Dehydration has the following adverse effects on the body:
  • Decreased blood volume
  • Increased heart rate
  • Decreased performance
  • Sodium retention
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased cardiac output
  • Decreased sweat rate
  • Decreased blood flow to skin
  • Increased core temperature
  • Increased perceived exertion (feeling the need to put forth more effort when performing the same activities)
  • Water retention
  • Increased use of energy stored in muscles

In addition to maintaining proper water intake, consuming foods with high water content will help to prevent dehydration from occurring. These foods include fruits, vegetables, milk, fresh juices, soups, smoothies, and shakes. Foods and beverages to be avoided include caffeine, green tea, excess protein, excess sodium, alcohol, diuretics, laxatives, and soda. Exercise in cooler temperatures and be sure to drink 16-24 ounces for every pound lost during exercise.

Be good to yourself! More next time...

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