Day 13 – Physical
The human body is more than 60 percent water. Blood is 92 percent water. Both your brain and muscles are made up of 75 percent water. Your skin contains 64 percent water. Even your bones aren’t “bone dry”- water is 22 percent of their makeup.
H2O. It’s what makes us work!
A human can survive over a month without eating food but only a week without water.
There’s no denying the importance of this essential element and I’m confident I’ll not be the first or the last to counsel you regarding adequate consumption. So if we all know it— why are seventy-five percent of Americans still chronically dehydrated?
We spend hours working our muscles in the gym, days reading books about the best diets and countless dollars on health food every year. Yet, we’re missing the mark when it comes to providing what nearly every major system in our body depends on to function. Perhaps we don’t fully comprehend beyond quenching our thirst what water really does after it passes our lips: brain function, hormone production, temperature regulation, shock absorption for the spinal cord, digestion, blood and body oxygenation, lubrication of joints, waste elimination, saliva formation, cellular survival and reproduction… need I go on? If we were told there was a “superfood” out there that would improve almost every biological function in your body, you bet your bottom dollar that most of us would be scrambling for the supermarket to get our hands on it.
So what happens when we don’t get enough of it? Dehydration. Simply put, this is when your body is using up more water than its taking in. This can lead to symptoms such as dry mouth, fatigue, thirst, decreased urination, dry skin, headaches, constipation and dizziness. With more dehydration, symptoms become even more severe: rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, fever, sunken eyes, no urination, extreme thirst, shriveled skin, delirium and even unconsciousness.
So how do you know if you’re getting enough water? Waiting till you feel thirsty or until you feel the above symptoms likely means your body is already feeling the drought. A common recommendation is the 8×8 rule: an eight ounce glass, eight times a day. This is a good guideline but keep in mind that your body’s water requirement may vary from your neighbors depending on your health, lifestyle, exercise-level and/or food choices. A person who exercises regularly will require more water to replenish what is excreted by sweating. When illness strikes, increased fluid intake is essential to restore what is lost through side-effects such as diarrhea. A breastfeeding mother will need to consume more water to maintain an adequate milk supply. A good indicator to know if you’re adequately hydrated is the color of your urine. According to the Mayo Clinic, clear or light-colored urine indicates healthy hydration. Dark or amber-colored urine is typically a signal your body is dehydrated.
I hope we feel appropriately educated regarding H2O up to this point. However, I’ve learned through experience that education without inspiration means very little when putting knowledge into practical application. So pop over to my blog, My Whole Food Habit, to see some fresh ways to boost your water intake, including how to liven up your liquids, fun tools to tote your H2O and innovative apps to keep your hydration on track.
Today’s challenge is to make a water wager. First: Pick a companion. This may be your significant other, a co-worker or any of your daily comrades. Each of you set a goal for the amount of water you will consume today. Use the 8×8 guide (an eight ounce glasses eight times a day) as a starting point and adapt as you feel necessary for your health and lifestyle. Second: Pick your prize. Each of you select a specific reward you will give yourself at the end of this day if you meet your goal. Mine was as simple as a good book in a bubble bath to close out my night. Yours may be purchasing that new song your ears can’t get enough of on iTunes. Now drink your way to victory! Soda, sports drinks or coffee— they don’t count— so keep your water free of sugar and additives today. Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of peer pressure. Text, email or otherwise remind your hydration partner throughout the day to ensure you both finish this day off with a water win.