Too much? Too little? Water

Water is one of the most important things for life and it is essential for good health to have enough of it everyday.  It’s needed for every celluar action of you body, it carries oxygen and water soluble vitamins through your body, allows minerals to become accessable to the body by disolving them, keeps your eyes, mouth, and other bodily tissues moist. Your joints are lucbricated with water, and it is very very important for flushing toxins out of the body.  If you don’t drink enough water, you are likely to become constipated – keeping all of those toxins that need to get out – inside of you.  The body needs water so much that if you don’t give it enough, it will draw water back up out of your colon causing waste matter to be become harder and more compact – and thus harder to get rid of.  Keeping track of how much you drink is not something most of us think about too much, but it’s not all that difficult to get enough every day.  

The human body is made up of nearly two-thirds of water so this means it is vital for us to consume enough water to stay hydrated.  Often, tiredness and headaches are symptoms of being dehydrated and this affects our performance for everything we need to do.  Some of us are so unfamiliar with recognizing the thirst sensation, that we mistake it for hunger.  It’s a good rule of thumb to make sure you have a drink of water if you have eaten recently and are feeling peckish.  If you become really thristy, then you are dehydrated already.  

Foods and other beverages can add to our total fluid intake but these should not be considered as helping to keep our bodies hydrated.  It’s going to take water to help metabolize the sugars and minerals that are contained in those foods and beverages. So while its true that high water fruits and vegetables can contribute up to 20% of a persons water intake, they should not be included as counting toward our daily needs.  

So how much fluid exactly do you need?  Well that depends.  What is the weather like?  How hot is your working environment?  How active are you right now?  What is your body mass? How old are you?  Does your diet include a lot of salt and/or sugar?  On average though around 1.2 litres of fluid a day is healthy, now this is around eight glasses of water – on top of all the water that you are provided in the food that we eat.

But is also possible to drink too much water and take in too many liquids in a day. Drinking excessive amounts of fluids is not helpful. It can cause a condition known as hyponatremia, or low salt levels in the body.  Now I bet some of you are thinking that we want to have low salt.  That’s not exactly true.  Salt or sodium plays a vital part in the bodies ability to function.  It is an electrolyte, involed in regulating fluid balance and is also involed in regualting the heart, the kidneys and the adrenal systems. People most at risk of hyponatremia are those who are using up a lot of water during physical exercise, and, very hot weather can cause problems.  Salt is lost in sweat and it’s important to replace electrolytes as well as water if you are sweating heavily.  When electrolyes are lost from perspiration and not replaced, and, when large amounts of water are taken in over a short time period, water intoxication can result which may cause death.   A good indication to the state of your hydration is to check the colour of your urine. Generally a pale straw colour indicates a good level of hydration although vitamins in the form of a pill can darken it, as can blood and pigments in certain vegetables, notably beets.  If your urine is lighter than this – and as long as you are not drinking massive amounts of water – it is also an indication of good hyrdation.  On a side note if you ARE drinking massive amounts of water and peeing a lot, you might want to get your blood sugar checked out.

Water is really your best choice for providing hydration, but what about coffee, tea, alcohol, soft drinks and  juices?  Well the first 3-4 are diuretics and will cause you to pee frequently.  And if you are watching your weight drinks can provide a lot of calories with no actual food and limited nutrition or downright bad nutrition.  Soft drinks for example contain about 150 calories on average.  Thats about 2 slices of bread or 2 small pieces of fruit.  While fruit juice at least contains vitamins and minerals one half a regular glass is equal to a piece of fruit, so you can see how the calories can add up from drinks.  Have you ever given thought to how many calories your latte contains?  One hundred and eighty if you get the regular whole milk.  Don’t even think about specialty drinks, some of those are over 400 calories! Sodas and other sugary drinks- even juices- have another health related aspect which shouldn’t be ignored.  Like your mama always told you – the sugar will rot your teeth.

One way to make sure that you do get enough water is to carry a water bottle with you.  Now I don’t mean the disposable plastic bottles, because there is enough of them in the landfill already.  I use 2 kinds, one is BPA free plastic and it holds about 1 liter and the other is stainless steel and it holds the same amount.  And guess what?  I save money because my water is free from my tap.  Granted I am lucky to have well water (a wonderful source of minerals), but if I didn’t I would still use my own tap water.  In the past I have had to use water filters to get water that is decent to drink.  You can buy them for the actual facuet system or use water pitchers.  Big cities may have some of the worst water you have tasted and I wouldn’t blame you at all for not wanting to drink straight from tap. 

This week in the news the EPA is trying to regulate the chemical perchlorate that has been  found in drinking water at levels high enough to affect our health.  If you live in an area that is affected by this chemical you would need a filter other than carbon, reverse osmosis or other cheaper methods.  There are filters that will filter out perchlorate.  The EPA provides information about the effects of perchlorate.

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