I spent most of my adolescence digging holes. My mother had great plans for putting in a beautiful fish pond. Not long after I would finish one digging project, she would change her mind and ask me to prepare a hole in a different part of the yard. Between digging fish ponds and removing old tree stumps, it seems there was always a shovel in my hand and I was one tired and thirsty guy. In those days, it was common to reach for a soda to quench ones thirst. While digging the holes was good for my body, a soda was not.
Sodas are a poor substitute for water.
Sodas require water from your body just to process the sugars they contain. The same is true of sugary “fruit” drinks. You might think drinking a “diet” drink solves this problem but dangerous chemical sweeteners should be avoided as well. Soda is also guilty of leaching important nutrients from your body. The soda just isn’t going to give you what a glass of water can.
What makes water so important is the fact that more than half of your body is composed of water. Your lungs are over 80% water! Your muscles are 79% water. Your brain and heart are over 70% water. Even your hard bones are 31% water.
It’s possible to lose as much as 15 cups of water in a single day from regular body activities. It’s no wonder we can only live three days without this “elixir of life” while we can live without food for three weeks! Large amounts of water leave your body when you sweat and urinate. Even the simple act of breathing causes about half of your water loss. Just breathe close to a mirror to prove that true.
Water is necessary for your body systems.
- Your skin would be dry and cracked without water.
- Water lubricates your joints and protects your spinal cord.
- You would easily overheat if your body could not sweat.
- The digestion of your food would be drastically disrupted without water as water is needed to digest food and soluble fiber.
- It also helps absorb and transport nutrients.
- Water makes it easier to pass stool during a bowel movement.
How much should you drink?
Most of us have grown up hearing that we need to drink 8 cups of water a day. This isn’t necessarily true but it is a nice round number that is easy to remember. The amount of water you actually need each day depends on your gender, health, weight, activity level and the climate you live in. Pregnant or breast feeding women will have an increased need for water.
The current trend is to suggest that you should drink .7 ounce to 1 ounce for every pound you weigh. For example, if you weigh 175 pounds, it would be recommended that you drink 131 ounces to 175 ounces of water each day. That’s about 16 to 21 cups a day depending on your activity level and health.
This does not necessarily mean you must drink this much water. The food you eat each day contains water that figures into the equation. Fruits and vegetables are healthy sources of water that should be a part of your daily intake.
Keeping your body hydrated doesn’t have to be complicated.
Learn to listen to your body to know if you are drinking enough water. The easiest way to know is to pay attention to the color of your urine. If your urine is clear, you are well hydrated. If your urine is dark or yellow, you are not getting enough water.
Take time to drink when you are thirsty.
That may seem obvious, but sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger. Your body is set up to warn you when you are beginning to get dehydrated. Just make sure you reach for a glass of water or a fruit or vegetable that will provide your body with life giving nutrients rather than a beverage that will rob you of your health. You will be ready to dig holes or whatever activity life throws your way knowing that you will be properly hydrated and ready for action.