Everyone knows that drinking water and staying hydrated is ‘important’ right? Seems simple – stay hydrated, stay healthy. But why is water really so critical to our well being?
First, as is commonly known, we’re made of mostly water – two thirds actually. Even more, water affects and influences no less than 100% of the natural processes our body goes through daily. Water is the solution our body uses to dissolve fats and soluble fiber. When we consume food or liquid, the nutrients and minerals are broken down and absorbed into our bloodstream. Without proper hydration, these nutrients get caught up in our organs causing all sorts of problems. Water prevents constipation and chronic illness such as kidney stones and fatty liver by helping to flush waste products – the leading cause of kidney stones is a lack of water! Further, water helps keep the cartilage and fascia hydrated ensuring that our joints stay lubricated and flexible. Everything from the spinal cord, to the tiny tendons connecting our toes, rely on good ol’ H2O to function properly.
But what happens when we aren’t getting enough water?
The experiment most often used to demonstrate the effects of improper hydration is the classic “sponge test.” If you look at a really dry sponge, it’s not only brittle and easily broken but if dipped in water for only a second or two, the sponge soaks up only a fraction of the water it should. You’re basically left with a mostly dry sponge dripping non-absorbable water.
A well hydrated and wet sponge on the other hand is quite the opposite. Not only is the sponge more flexible and elastic, but significantly more water is absorbed in a shorter time than with the dry sponge. This is important because our tissues act in almost the same way as a common sponge! In fact, our bodies are a combination of a whole bunch of sponges called fascia. Fascia is essentially a thin layer of tissue that ‘saran wraps’ and helps keep together our muscles, organs, joints, etc. For a visual, think of the thin coating around orange peels that keeps all the juices from spilling out. Water keeps these layers springy and flexible and is the most important ingredient to keeping this very important part of our bodies healthy.
So okay, we all need to drink water….but how much?
According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), “an adequate intake for men is approximately 13 cups (3 liters) a day. For women, an adequate intake is around 9 cups (2.2 liters).” Essentially we need to drink 1 oz. of water per day for every two pounds of body weight. This increases by 1 oz. per single minute of intense cardio. It sounds like a lot, but our bodies need it!
Another fun fact – Every day, the kidneys filter around 200 quarts of fluid. Of these, approximately 2 quarts are removed from the body in the form of urine, and 198(!!) are recovered by the bloodstream. Crazy right?
In conclusion – put down the diet coke and drink some water!
– Don S