Look outside, it’s summer! The pubs and restaurants put chairs outside and there are several groups of people in the parks gathering around a barbecue. Personal studies have shown that people like to drink a beer or two in these situations. But if you think this blog is about showing you how to handle your booze better I have to disappoint you. It is a fact and remains a fact: in summer, one wheat beer is often enough to make your body give you a signal that alcohol is definitely poison.
My question is: do you drink enough water?
Nothing runs without water
Our body is about 65% water. If we don’t drink we’ll die. But why is water so important? Well, most people don’t want to die of thirst. Almost every process of our metabolism is highly dependent on the availability of water. This means, digestion (absorbing nutrient into your body), energy production in the cells, sending and receiving messengers when processing stimuli all are highly dependent on the bond of hydrogen and oxygen.
Water is mostly found in the digestive organs, in the cardiovascular system, in connective tissue, and pretty much in every cell of the body.
When you drink too little it could lead to dehydration because we are constantly losing water with our urine, stool, by exhaling, and over our skin. It is like with any other balance in nature. You should consume as much as you lose! The recommendations, however, greatly differ at this point.
The demand for fluids is individual. Most ‘experts’ recommend 1.5 to 2 liters of water per day. Add to that the fluids we consume along with our food (sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on your diet). Vegetables, fruits, etc. are H2O-rich.
Coffee and tea, on the other hand, tend to drain the body. Which isn’t that bad at first, but which has to be compensated for in the long term. The body will get used to this, though (cf. Tutorial Thursday 45).
And when you work hard physically or do any kind of sports, you will lose a good portion of water due to transpiration. Especially in the warmer months of the year!
What happens during dehydration?
With not enough fluid the blood thickens and that can lead to high blood pressure and an undersupply of the cells with oxygen. Every other nutrient that is on its way to the right place in the body has a harder time getting there. It can lead to vascular damage and/or thrombosis. Even on your movement, water has an direct impact: the connective tissue that surrounds every muscle fibre and all spaces in your body loses its quality and can stick together easier. When dehydrated, your movements can quickly resemble those of an elephant in a ballet lesson.
If you don’t drink enough you will experience muscle cramps more often because water, together with magnesium, plays an important factor in the process of contracting and stretching a muscle (cf. Tutorial Thursday 18).
Another potential problem: your kidneys cannot do their job properly and detox your body. Thus, all the waste products won’t be removed. In a way, water is the garbage truck of the body here, and it just doesn’t come to pick up your trash.
The typical symptoms of water deficiency:
- muscle cramps
- perceptual disturbances
- high blood pressure
- poor connective tissue
This is how you drink the right way
Try to drink enough throughout the day, interspersed throughout the time you are awake. Don’t drink huge amounts in a short period and then nothing for long periods. Your best choice is water, by the way, not high-caloric soft drinks or juice. It can be a mixture of water and juice from time to time but keep in mind: in that moment it is a snack for your body. If you want to lose some weight there is no way around pure water. And if you are an ambitious sportsman you should drink after the workout. You won’t squat so good when your belly is full of water. During training you mostly drink to keep your airways moist anyways.
5 tips to optimize your fluid intake throughout your daily routine:
- Drink a big glass of water right after getting up in the morning because your body loses water via transpiration and respiration.
- Hold a bottle of water available at your workplace and empty it during your shift. It goes a bit faster by using a glass that you keep refilling.
- Water is best served at body temperature. Thus, your body has to spend as less energy as possible to adjust it to the surrounding temperature. There is a reason why people drink great amounts of coffee and tea in southern regions.
- Drink half a litre after sport to speed up metabolic processes and help your body to regain homeostasis (balance).
- Don’t drink too much before going to bed because otherwise you will have to go to the toilet.
How do you handle your daily water supply? Do you drink enough?