And because you are mostly water, it shouldn't be a surprise that every function your body does, requires and relies on adequate amounts of water in your body in order to complete that function. According to the Mayo Clinic's Healthy Lifestyle page under Nutrition and healthy eating, water is responsible for; “regulating your body temperature, moistens the tissues in the mouth, eyes, and nose, lubricates joints, lessens the burden on the kidneys and liver by flushing out waste products, carries oxygen and nutrients to the cells, protects body organs and tissues, helps prevent constipation, and helps dissolve minerals and other nutrients to make them accessible to the body.”
Not only does water play a role in the physical functioning of the body, but it's very important for our brain as well. In an article by Dr. Joshua Gowin, Ph.D., published in Psychology Today, Dr. Gowin writes, “Our brains depend on proper hydration to function optimally. Brain cells require a delicate balance between water and various elements to operate, and when you lose too much water, that balance is disrupted. Your brain cells lose efficency.” He goes on to note that when we're dehydrated, it's more difficult to stay focused and pay attention, short-term and long-term memory can be affected, and the ability to do mental math is compromised as well. Not to mention the poor metabolism digestion, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, headaches and irritability that often show up when you're a quart low. Headaches used to be my “tell” many years ago when I wasn't so intentional with making sure to drink water throughout the day. A good amount would be to aim for consuming two to three litres for ladies and three to four litres for the guys everyday. Oh, and just a little FYI, when you're feeling thirsty, you're already dehydrated.
Even though most people know they should be drinking more water, one of the things I hear a lot is, people don't like the taste of water. They drink juice, soda, coffee, tea, alcohol, throughout the day but very little water. And because all of these items are nutrient deficient and some even cause the body to get rid of water, 75 percent of people in North America are chronically dehydrated. Over time, this becomes problematic when you think of all the bodily functions constantly disrupted and stressed because of it.
Along with the majority of people suffering from chronic dehydration, many are also not getting the electrolytes they need. Electrolytes are minerals such as sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, phosphate, bicarbonate found in the blood, sweat and urine. Like water, electrolytes are also vital to certain bodily functions. Healthline posted on their website that electrolytes are, “..crucial to keeping your nervous system and muscles functioning and your internal environment balanced”. For example, calcium is needed for muscle contraction whereas magnesium is needed for muscle extension as well as helps with digestion and elimination. Sodium, in the right amounts, helps to keep the right amount of water inside and out of the cells. Electrolytes help keep you hydrated and regulates your internal pH, another element required to be in balance so that we may have good health. Symptoms such as dizziness, muscle cramping, weakness or twitching, mental confusion, irregular heartbeat, and/or digestive issues such as cramping, constipation or diarrhea may indicate an electrolyte deficiency or imbalance.
Proper hydration and electrolyte balance are important anytime of the year, but as the weather is warming up and we're getting ready for the summer heat, it's even more important. Here are a few things you can do to help increase your water intake and stay balanced. Use a water bottle that you like, determine how many of them you'll need to drink to get in what you need everyday. It's not such a big deal if you tell yourself you need to drink three water bottles everyday, rather than 12 cups, right? Try replacing one caffeinated and/or sugary (this includes fruit juice!) beverage with a glass of water. Download a water app on your phone and/or use reminders to have a drink. Eat water filled foods. Choose whole, clean foods in a wide variety, to get more nutrients. Add an electrolyte packet to one or two of your water bottles everyday. The flavour itself tends to make people drink more water which is a great start. Everyone needs electrolytes. But it's especially important if you are working at a physical job, work out hard, sweat a lot, spend time outside in the heat, lay on the beach all day, have poor circulation, already experience muscle cramping, dizziness, easily distracted in your day, and/or you don't drink the amount of water you know you should be.
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