by Trudy Pieper, ND
Hydration is essential for good health. We can live for up to two months without food, but only two to three days without water. On average, water makes up 60 to 70 percent of our body weight. “Dehydration” is defined by scientists as when fluid loss is greater than 1 percent of total body weight, and is fatal at 9 to 12 percent. Our bodies are constantly losing water. We lose water each day when going to the bathroom or sweating. In fact, we lose about a quart and a half of water per day just through breathing alone. Overall, we lose over three quarts of water daily. This amount, and rate, are increased during exercise, in hot weather, or when experiencing a fever.
Signs of dehydration include:
- Darkened color or decreased volume of urine
- Dry mouth
- Sleepiness or fatigue
- Extreme thirst
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
It is critical to note that our thirst mechanism has a lag time. Once we are thirsty, our bodies have already reached the point of moderate dehydration and it becomes progressively more difficult to replenish fluids from that point.
There are different recommendations for water intake each day, but a general rule of thumb is six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Water needs are also related to how many calories are burned daily. Factor in about 1 ml of water for each calorie burned. If a person is very active and burns 3,000-4,000 calories per day; this could equal 3-4 liters, or 13-17 cups, of water. A person’s entire fluid intake need not come solely from water – fruits and vegetables contain fluid, and non-caffeinated beverages contribute to the overall total.
Some tips for staying hydrated:
- Keep a bottle of water close by during the day
- If plain water tastes boring, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to enhance the flavor
- When exercising, make sure to drink water before, during and after the workout
- Start and end the day with a glass of water
- The sensation of thirst is often confused with hunger – when hungry, drink water first
Trudy Pieper is a Naturopathic Doctor based in Johnstown. For more information, call 740-616-9949, or visit PhoenixWellness4U.com.