Water: Are You Getting Your Fill?   © Scot Fetherston 

The source of life!

Your body needs water every day to stay in good health - but do we underestimate the importance of proper, daily hydration?

First of all, let's look at how much we should be drinking. Most have heard that adults should consume 8 glasses of water per day - and more if it's hot outside or if you've been exercising.

A more exact, personal measurement to determine the proper daily intake is to divide your body weight in half and drink that amount in ounces. So, at that rate, a 200-pound man should consume 100 ounces of water, daily.

Now for some facts: Our bodies are two-thirds water. Around 16% of the water in your system right now is being stored in muscles, which will become soft and flabby if you are dehydrated.

An average adult uses up almost 3 liters of water per day. The saliva glands alone use up to 3 pints just to keep your mouth moist every day. With all this water being used every day, it's easy to become dehydrated. The solution is simple - just increase the amount of fluids you drink, daily. The problem is, most people prefer drinks like tea and coffee, soft drinks, sport drinks and alcohol - and these are not exactly the right kinds of fluids for optimum health.

Alcohol and caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee and colas are diuretics, forcing fluids out of the body, aiding dehydration - and contributing to the worst hangovers! Soft drinks and sport drinks are packed with sugar and chemicals. The unhealthy, empty calories only contribute to your thirst. This is due to a spike in your blood sugar levels and as the body craves more liquid to dilute the glucose - which can be toxic to cells - we drink more.

Many people can become addicted to sugary drinks like cola, with a soft drink industry eager to keep you drinking their products all day long. Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.

What should we be drinking?

In an Ideal world, our tap water should be fit enough to drink. Unfortunately, tap water in some areas is not suitable for drinking. Either it just plain tastes bad - or worse:

"More than 1 in 5 Americans unknowingly drink tap water polluted with feces, radiation or other contaminants Nearly 1,000 deaths each year and at least 400,000 cases of waterborne illness may be attributed to contaminated water" -The New York Times - June 2, 1995

Many have turned to bottled water recently - but even that solution comes with it's own problems. Despite the fact that disposable water bottles are 100% recyclable, landfills throughout North America are bursting at the seams with discarded plastic water bottles. Amidst the pollution controversy, some bottled waters have been exposed as nothing more than simple, non-treated tap water while other bottled waters may pose additional problems.

Recent studies have shown that water in bottles made of soft plastic may contain chemicals that are residual from the process of making it and tests have shown these chemicals can mimic the effect of estrogen in the body and disrupt hormone balance.

A simple solution may be to just invest in a non-leaching water bottle. These special bottles are made of hard plastic and will not retain tastes, odors and other small molecules.

Available in most sporting goods stores, these bottles are not overly expensive -ten dollars or less - and with normal care, they should last forever. They're often made of non-leaching "LEXAN" or other super-plastics designed to deliver your water - and just your water, without any nasty surprises.

What happens when we don't get enough water?
Even mild dehydration can really slow you down, leading to constipation, headaches and mental confusion. It can also make you more prone to kidney stones and bladder infections.

When just one percent of body fluid is lost, body temperature goes up, concentration becomes more difficult and energy levels decline.

The thirst mechanism kicks in once you've lost between 1 and 2 percent of body water. However, sometimes the thirst reflex is mistaken for hunger. If we ignore it, dehydration can continue to 3 percent, where it seriously affects mental and physical performance.

If your kidneys can't function properly due to dehydration, it can lead to high blood pressure - which can lead to cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes.

Here's a test you can try: Pinch a little skin on the back of your hand or forearm between your thumb and index finger. Does the skin snap back into place? If it doesn't spring back in an instant, or leaves a small impression, then that's a sign that you may need to drink more, as there is not enough water in your tissues.

Your blood is 75% water. Water is vital to many functions of your body, including maintenance of cell structure and transporting oxygen and nutrients like vitamins and minerals through your bloodstream.
Cells shrink when dehydrated, which may affect the transmission of electrical impulses that stimulate heart muscles to contract - drinking 5 or more glasses of water each day can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

How else can we tell if we need more water?
Check this list - any combination of these symptoms might help you become more in tune with your body's need for water:

Are you often thirsty?
Do you have joint problems?
Do you feel tired at times during the day?
Are you having difficulty concentrating?
Are you prone to constipation?
Do you have dry skin, dry mouth or lips?
Do you get frequent infections?
Do you have dry brittle hair?
Is your face often flushed?
Do you suffer from headaches?
Do you have trouble sleeping?

Another sign you need to drink more water is the color of your urine. If it is very strongly colored, then you are likely not drinking enough. Ideally, it should be a light, straw colored yellow.

Water is the ultimate beauty product - dehydrated skin looks older than it is. Drink lots of water to insure your skin stays looking younger and more vibrant.

Water can be a big help with dieting. Drinking water can often curb the appetite and it is calorie-free. In a University of Washington study, one glass of water shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied.

There is no substitute for water - it's still the best drink for health. Too much tea and coffee can rob your body of minerals, can make you "wired" and suppress the immune system.

If you feel you cannot drink as much as 8 glasses of water a day, try flavoring it. There are now, zero-calorie flavoring crystal packets available that add all-natural flavor and sweetness to your water - without adding any chemicals or sugar.

Flavored herbal teas and diluted fresh fruit juice are also very good for you and count towards the daily amount of fluid we need to drink each day to stay healthy. Soya milk flavored with fresh soft fruit and mixed in a blender to make a fruit smoothie is another good choice.

Please don't rely on your thirst to tell you when to drink water. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and drink a couple of ounces every 10 or 15 minutes to ensure you get your daily fill. With so many wonderful benefits associated with proper, daily hydration, it's truly a wise choice for everyone.
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About the author: Scot Fetherston is a co-founder of The Xooma CREW, a group of independent Xooma Worldwide representatives, marketing water flavoring and mineralization products in 29 countries.

For more information: Web: http://XoomaCREW.com email:  scot@xoomacrew.com