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Wonderful Water

by Okanagan Nutrition

Did you know that you’re made up of about 60% water?

We all know that getting enough water and staying hydrated is important for optimal health, but, what does water actually do for our bodies?

Let’s find out!

Why is water so important?

Water is involved in nearly every bodily function – circulating our blood, digesting of our food, absorption of nutrients, the elimination of wastes and toxins as well as helping the healing of wounds, just to name a few.

(1) Water is important in the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients

Water is a key component of digestive juices – like your saliva – that help break down components of food (carbohydrates, proteins and fats). It also helps ensure that your digestive tract (from gum to bum), stays nice and lubricated, keeping things chugging along as they should. Water is also an important medium for the absorption of nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

(2) Water helps remove waste from the body

Sweat, urine, poop to your breath – these are all means that your body uses to get rid of toxins and waste it does not need, and water plays an important role in creating each one of them!

(3) Your brain needs water to function optimally

Research has found that when you are dehydrated, you are more likely to have difficulties paying attention, retaining information as well as more difficulty with your short-term and long-term memory recall.

(4) Water plays an important role in metabolism

Water is needed for ALL metabolic reactions and plays an important role in the structure of our cells. Metabolic reactions in the body not only need water to happen, but they also create water.

(5) Water helps regulate your body temperature

There is a reason why we sweat when it gets hot outside or when we exercise – your sweat helps to keep your body cool.

(6) Water helps keep your joints lubricated

Water plays in important role in protecting and cushioning your joints, spinal cord and organs.

What is dehydration?

Simply, dehydration is when your body loses more fluid than it is taking in.

What are some signs of dehydration?

  • Thirst
  • Dry mouth and lips
  • Fatigue
  • Headache, dizziness on standing or fainting
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dark yellow urine

By the time you feel thirst, you are likely already dehydrated. This is why it is important to sip on fluids and eat water rich foods regularly throughout the day.

As we get older, our bodies become less reliable at letting us know when we are getting dehydrated – you may not feel the sensation of thirst as quickly as you should, for example. Because of this, those who are elderly are at an increased risk of experiencing severe dehydration.

How much water do we need?

How much water you need depends on a few different things like your age, your gender, your body composition (how much muscle and fat you have), how active you are, and the season/weather.

Even though how much water we need varies from person to person, we can ballpark how much we think you might need.

  • 12 cups (3L) for men
  • 9 cups (2.25L) for women.
How can you make sure you’re getting enough fluids?

Drinking enough water is, of course, important, but there are other ways to stay hydrated as well!

Other fluids like coffee, tea, milks and soups, also go towards your daily fluid intake!

Even solid foods, like fruits and vegetables, play an important role in staying hydrated.

In fact, food may account for 20% of your daily fluids needs.
  • Cucumbers = 98% water
  • Tomatoes = 94% water
  • Spinach = 92% water
  • Strawberries = 92% water
  • Broccoli = 91% water

Moral of the Story

Water plays an extremely important role in nearly every bodily function.

How much water you needs depends on factors like your age, gender, body composition, whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding, your activity and the weather BUT some general recommendations are for men to aim for 12 cups (3L) per day and for women to aim for 9 cups (2.25L) per day.

All fluids – water, coffee, tea, juices, milk/dairy alternatives, soups etc – contribute to your total daily fluid intake.

Solid foods, like water rich fruits and vegetables, are thought to contribute upwards of 20% of your daily fluid needs as well (phewf).

Top tips to staying hydrated

  • Have a glass of water when you get up (pre-coffee) and when you go to bed
  • Make sure water is easily available to you throughout the day
    • Carry a water bottle around with you
    • Keep a glass of water at your desk and bedside table
  • Have fluids at mealtime – plain or infused water or milk alternatives are good choices
  • Drink infused water or teas throughout the day
    • Slice up some lemons, limes or your favourite fresh fruit and add to some still or bubbly water
  • Make a smoothie
    • Smoothies are a delicious and easy way to get more fluids! Not only are you getting the water from those fruits or veg you’re adding, using water or nut milk will contribute to your hydration as well.
  • Lose track of time and before you know it, you’ve gone all day without a glass of water?
    • Set an alarm a few times a day to remind yourself to grab a drink of water.
  • Choose plain, sparkling or infused water over sugar or artificially sweetened beverages.

What are your favourite ways to stay hydrated?

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