“The first trick to staying hydrated is to understand that when it comes to your daily water intake, the best drink is pure water.”
Humans cannot survive more than just a few days without water. The more active your lifestyle, the faster your body will lose water. But even people who are only moderately active could benefit from drinking more water.
Roughly three-quarters of the human body is composed of water. That’s an incredibly high amount when you stop to think about it. Where is all this water stored? Two-thirds of all the water in your body is intracellular fluid, meaning it is inside your body’s cells. The remaining third can be found in plasma, interstitial fluid, transcellular fluid and the contents of the organs. With so much water contained throughout the entire body, doesn’t staying hydrated seem even more important than ever?
The first trick to staying hydrated is to understand that when it comes to your daily water intake, the best drink is pure water. Other liquids such as teas, coffees, alcoholic beverages and caffeinated sodas all act somewhat as diuretics, meaning they can cause a loss in water by promoting excess urination. Juices labelled as 100 percent juice and zero-calorie sports drinks are better choices, but nothing is better for your body than fresh, clean water.
Some experts believe that because of a gradually decreasing thirst sensation, people become chronically and increasingly dehydrated at the cellular level from an early adult age. The older we get, the more this happens, which makes the effort to consume enough water even more important. The most common advice is that every person should consume eight 8-ounce glasses (about two quarts or two litres) of pure water every day. Active people and anyone who spends time outdoors in the summer should consume even more.
It is vital to stay hydrated while exercising or when exposed to high temperatures. But other times of your day can be just as important. For example, drinking a glass of water 20 to 30 minutes before eating can help control portions and aid in the digestive process. It’s also important to consume water before you exercise. By the time you begin to sweat, you may already be becoming dehydrated.
Considering the source of your water is important too. In the developed world most tap water is disinfected with chlorine or chloramines. These potent oxidants kill the bacteria and viruses responsible for many water-borne infectious diseases. Unfortunately, drinking chlorinated tap water means consuming residual chlorine and its by products that can kill the beneficial bacteria living in our intestines as well as increase oxidative stress (free radicals) in the body. In turn, this places a greater demand on the body’s antioxidant reserves.
There are several methods to avoid these problems. Carbon-block filtration is the most popular and most cost-effective point-of-use purification method. From faucet adapters to “pour through” pitchers, these systems will remove chlorine from drinking water and improve its taste. There are also carbon block filtration systems that are capable of removing lead and many other chemicals.
Health factors aside, many people don’t drink enough water simply because they don’t like the taste. After years of drinking sugary juices and sodas, water can taste too bland. For these people, a few drops of lemon or lime juice are often the only thing needed to add a little flavour and make water more palatable.
If you think you may be one of the many people who could benefit greatly from drinking more water, try this: Drink one medium-to-large glass of water as soon as you wake up; drink another 20 minutes before breakfast, lunch and dinner. And be sure to stay properly hydrated while exercising. Do this for several months and you will be able to clearly feel if any of your health problems may have been related to chronic cellular dehydration. If you begin to feel better, you’ll be a confirmed water addict for life.