Water: The Body’s Most Critical Nutrient
Author: Jean Howe
By the time you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrated!
Many people underestimate the importance of proper hydration. Water is the most abundant nutrient in the human body. It balances all of the body’s systems, including the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs and muscles. Although it is not part of the food pyramid, water is the foundation of every healthy diet.
Our bodies are made up of 50-65% water. Men tend to have a higher percentage: 60-65% due to their muscle mass. Women’s bodies are about 50-60% water, females generally carry more fat than males, and fat does not contain water. Infants are almost 70% as a result of the birthing process.
When traveling by air you can lose 2-3 pounds of water in a 3-4 hour flight. Stress also contributes to the amount and speed of water leaving your body.
The benefits of staying properly hydrated are monumental. Keep the wrinkles at bay by drinking water. Properly hydrated skin is smoother and suppler. Dry skin loses its protective barrier, causing a rough weathered appearance.
Drinking water makes our bones and teeth strong. The synovial fluid that keeps our joints protected and well cushioned is made up mostly of water.
Water is key in metabolizing food and reducing constipation. Not only does it help the body process and transport nutrients, but it also eases the elimination process.
Increasing your daily water intake will reduce the risk of colon and bladder cancer by 45%. The body functions more efficiently when it is well hydrated. Aside from maintaining a healthy level of hydration, drinking water also increases energy, plus aids in weight control, sensory awareness, and perceptive thinking.
Crucial Roles in the Body
Water regulates body temperature and reduces water retention. If you do not drink enough water, your body perceives there is a problem and will hold on to every drop.
You need to drink plenty of water before, during, and immediately following exercise. Otherwise you could tire and cramp, and you will not perform at your best.
Get in the Habit
Drink six to eight glasses of water throughout the day, more if you are exercising. Have water handy while at work and in the car. Remember that coffee, tea, alcohol, and soda are not substitutes for water. Establish a routine, drink water at the same times every day. Indulge in a glass when you wake up, and before and after meals. If you get bored with plain water, squeeze in some lemon or lime for a change. Today there are flavored waters on the market that will add some zing. Just beware of the ones with artificial sweeteners or sugar, both of which you do not need.
Avoid soda and other caffeinated beverages. Caffeine is a diuretic. When you consume excess caffeine, increase your water intake.
Also be sure to drink plenty of water as you take medications, vitamins, and supplements.