Hydration is a key component that our bodies depend on, as water is essential for all living organisms. Our bodies are composed of about 60% water with certain vital organs containing even higher amounts than that.
Water is used within the body for all major metabolic functions and is also utilized during perspiration, respiration, and regulating body temperature. It is responsible for lubricating our joints and intestines, helps flush waste from our system, and can act as a protective shock absorber for our brain, spinal cord, and growing fetus’. In fact, some studies have shown that dehydration can cause a serious decline in cognitive abilities in addition to fatigue, drowsiness, and confusion. If participating in a high level task, dehydration may cause excess strain for our brain. For these reasons, it is necessary that we combat dehydration the best we can to keep our body at homeostasis and ensure optimal health!
How much fluid should a person get each day? According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, adequate fluid intake is about 15.5 cups/day for men and 11.5 cups/day for women. Water is typically the recommended choice for staying hydrated, however, we can also get fluids from milk, sodas, juices, and a variety of foods including soups, yogurt, and fruits and veggies.
The more active we are, the more fluid we need to replenish our system and ensure proper hydration. Sweating is the body’s natural way to cool down, and it may also help eliminate toxins!!! Sweat is made up of mostly water and electrolytes. These electrolytes are primarily salt compounds and they help to maintain our fluid/ion balance within our cells. Because of electrolytes vital role in our health, recovery is extremely important after any type of physical activity.
Dehydration may occur easily for some, and it’s important to look for signs that may indicate we need more fluid. Some signs of dehydration include dry skin and mouth, increased heart rate, headache, nausea, and sometimes dizziness. Increased urination and sweating, severe vomiting, diarrhea, or fever can all contribute or cause dehydration. Diuretics can also be a cause for dehydration. Diuretics are products used to increase the amount of water and salt excreted by the body through urination. These products may often be used to treat high blood pressure, as they decrease the amount of fluid in your blood vessels, thus, reducing blood pressure. Caffeine, alcohol, and certain medications are all considered diuretics and should be used in moderation.
Ultimately, our hydration levels will fluctuate throughout the day. However, by making our fluid intake a priority for our health, we can do our best to replenish the liquid we lose through our daily activities and give our bodies what they need to perform.