Water is your body's principal component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water to flush toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells, and provide a moist environment for the ear, nose and throat.
Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.
So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need? The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day.
Everyone has heard the advice, "Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day," but where did that come from? Writing in the American Journal of Physiology, Heinz Valtin of Dartmouth Medical School noted a possible origin of this now widely accepted dietary dogma in the obituary of a well-known nutritionist by the name of Fredrick J. Stare, which said he was an “early champion of drinking at least six glasses of water a day.”
That's about 1.9 liters, which isn't that different from the Institute of Medicine recommendations. Although the "8 by 8" rule isn't supported by hard evidence, it remains popular because it's easy to remember. Just keep in mind that the rule should be reframed as: "Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day," because all fluids count toward the daily total.
A 1945 recommendation by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council recommended 2.5 liters of water as a “suitable allowance” of water for most adults. They, however, pointed out that “most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods,” but it could be that people interpreted this to mean that 2.5 liters of water is the right amount to drink each day.
Can you drink too much water? Whenever you disregard your sense of thirst and strive to ingest several glasses of water a day just because you have been told that doing so is good for your health, you actually put unnecessary strain on your body in two major ways:
Ingesting more water than you need can increase your total blood volume, which exists within a closed system (your circulatory system), and if done on a regular basis can put unnecessary burden on your heart and blood vessels.
Your kidneys, as well, must work overtime to filter excess water out of your system. Over time unnecessary wear and tear from drowning your system with large amounts of water can damage this filter system.
Something else to consider, as your circulatory system becomes diluted with excess water, the concentration of electrolytes in your blood drops relative to the concentration of electrolytes in your cells. In an effort to maintain an equal balance with your cells, water will seep into your cells from your blood, causing swelling. If this swelling occurs in your brain and you could experience a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from a mild headache to impaired breathing.
This is more likely to happen in situations where large quantities are ingested in a very short period of time as was the case of the woman who competed in a water drinking competition and later died
How can I tell if I am properly hydrated? Take stock of a couple simple bodily functions. Urine color can directly relate to your body's loss or gain of water and offers a reliable way to identify your hydration status. Urine is dark yellow or gold when you're dehydrated; this is because the wastes normally found in urine become more concentrated as your body tries to conserve water. If you are well-hydrated, urine will be a light yellow or straw color, even if you have recently exercised in a hot environment.
You can also monitor sweat production. Your body uses sweat to regulate temperature; when body temperature increases, you produce sweat by drawing fluid from the bloodstream. If you continue to sweat without replacing fluids, your overall blood volume decreases, which can lead to dehydration and an eventual cessation of sweating, along with muscle cramps and a dangerous increase in temperature. However, if you are well-hydrated before exercise and continue to drink fluids during activity, you will maintain a relatively constant rate of sweat production and overall higher quality athletic performance.
So best advice is to drink fluids, preferably water, regularly through the day and monitor not only how much goes in but the quality and quantity of what goes out. Here is a simple calculator that attempts to quantify the proper amount of water. http://waterintakecalculator.com/
Enjoy the nice weather and stay properly hydrated. If you would like more information on this topic or are interested in finding out how chiropractic may help you or your family don’t hesitate to contact The Art of Chiropractic.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Doug Davies has been practicing the art of chiropractic for over 10 years and brings his skills to the downtown Gresham, OR area focusing on achieving and maintaining the innate lifestyle...