Sunday, April 17, 2011

Staying Hydrated


Plan to start and end your day with water. Your body loses water while you sleep, so drinking 8 ounces of water when you first wake up and before you go to bed can help balance what you lose while sleeping. Thirst is also considered a signal that your body may already be on the way to dehydration; therefore, it’s important to drink more than your thirst demands. However, new research shows that most people can meet their daily hydration needs simply by drinking when they’re thirsty.
You lose water during the day when you perspire, urinate, and breathe. A simple formula to use is to divide your body weight by 2; that is the number of ounces of water you should drink per day. For example, if you weight 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water per day as a baseline. If you are more active or are working or exercising in a hot or humid environment, you will need more water.
There are many ways to test if you are properly hydrated. One common test is known as the urine test. Your urine should be very pale yellow (unless you are taking certain medications or supplements that might affect this). The darker it is, the greater the likelihood that you need more water.
It is best to drink bottled spring water or distilled water, but filtered water is also acceptable. Tap water should be avoided because most large water supplies use chlorine to treat the water; chlorine is a toxin and shouldn’t be consumed in large quantities.

Dangers of Dehydration

It is important to know the signs and symptoms of dehydration. Dehydration is serious, and even mild cases should be immediately addressed. Low fluid levels can affect your mind’s ability to concentrate, reduces energy levels, and may prevent organs from functioning efficiently. In a dehydrated state, the body is unable to cool itself; this can lead to heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke. Dehydration also leads to muscle fatigue and a loss of coordination. Therefore, even small amounts of dehydration can hinder your athletic performance.

What Counts as Water?

In 2004, the institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies of Sciences established new water intake recommendations after two years of examining hundreds of scientific studies. They concluded that 81 percent of your hydration should come from drinking water and other beverages (including coffee and tea); this equals approximately nine 8-ounce glasses per day. The remaining 19 percent should come from foods – especially fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are 80-99 percent water. Diets rich in produce also help maintain a healthy electrolyte balance. However even bread and cheese are more than 20 percent water each.

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