Hydration is so important because the body is made mostly of water, and the proper balance between water and electrolytes in our bodies determines how most of our systems function, including organs, nerves and muscles.
Drinking fluids serves many purposes in our bodies, such as removing waste through urine; controlling body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure; and maintaining a healthy metabolism.
But without fluids, the body begins to shut down. Symptoms of severe dehydration include altered behaviour, such as severe anxiety, confusion, or not being able to stay awake; faintness that is not relieved by lying down; an inability to stand or walk; rapid breathing; a weak, rapid pulse; and loss of consciousness.
Our bodies are adept at striking a water balance when we consume three meals a day coupled with beverages, but most people aren’t aware that the body is only one or two percentage points away from a problem.
As little as a 2% decrease in body water can lead to dehydration and performance detriments in sports. When your water levels decrease by higher levels like 3% or 4%, there are physiological changes that occur that may have health consequences, such as increased heart rate and body temperature.
We need fluids to survive. But what counts? Does the cup of coffee or tea every morning help? Or as many believe, hinder levels of hydration?
Contrary to the myth, yes, coffee counts when you’re tallying fluid intake. There is no truth to the idea that coffee makes you dehydrated. That is a pervasive. The diuretic effect of the caffeine of cola drinks and coffee is mild compared to the amount of fluid they contain.
So coffee and soft drinks count in our quest to stay hydrated. What else can we add to the list?
You don’t have to drink water per se to get water, you can eat watery foods and that will count. Soup counts, yogurt and watermelon count. An orange is 90% water, salads are a lot of water; so all in all, people get plenty of water through foods and beverages other than water.
We’ve heard for years that we need to drink eight large glasses of water a day. But before you start gulping down all this water, is it true?
There is no scientific evidence whatsoever for that rule. It’s certainly not a harmful rule, but there is no scientific rationale behind it. Instead, it’s pretty simple: For the average person, drink enough so you go to the bathroom every two to four hours. You should be drinking enough so that you urinate every two to four hours, and that the urine is a light colour. If you go from 8 a.m. till 3 p.m., and your urine is very dark, that’s a sign that you haven’t had enough to drink.
Most of us do a pretty good job of getting adequate amounts of fluids as part of our everyday routines: coffee or tea in the morning, a soft drink with lunch, a glass of water in the afternoon, and water with dinner. Coupled with the water that makes up our food, usually, this is sufficient.
Athletes, however, need more.
The exact amount of water needed per day really depends on the individual. People who exercise, for example, will lose a lot more water through sweat and breathing, so their needs are higher. Athletes need to quench their thirst even when they’re not thirsty, and avoid relying on the feeling of thirst to tell them when to drink.
Headaches and cramping are common signs of dehydration. However, these are late signs. Unfortunately, the body hides mild dehydration very well, and it can take hours before you recognize that you are dehydrated. Exercise apparently blunts the thirst mechanism. So people who are running or biking may not feel thirsty when they actually need water desperately. An important strategy is to prevent dehydration by hydrating frequently whether you feel thirsty or not.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
We know we need to drink fluids to maintain a healthy body, but is there such as a thing as too much?
There is a lot of information out there now about hyponatremia (low sodium levels), which is much rarer than dehydration problems, but it can still be a concern. While hyponatremia is a rare occurrence, it is a dangerous condition that may arise when athletes drink too much water, diluting the body’s sodium levels. It is most often seen in prolonged endurance athletes, such as those participating in marathons and triathlons.
To strike a balance between too much and too little fluid intake, sports nutritionists recommend weighing yourself before and after exercise, and drinking enough to replace the amount of weight you lose. If you’re gaining weight, you know you’re drinking too many fluids, and if you’re losing weight, you know you need to drink more. This is more the case for serious sportspeople, but it is important to understand the premise.
Does drinking water hydrate your skin?
As we have already seen, the body needs water for millions of metabolic processes, temperature control, fluid volume, and lubrication. And many health-conscious folks drink water often because it is a calorie-free thirst quencher. Some research shows that drinking water often may help to suppress the appetite and it certainly aids in digestion.
But what about drinking large amounts of water for proper skin health? Claims have been made that drinking water gives you a radiant, healthy, younger- looking complexion, while others say it has no effect on skin’s appearance whatsoever.
Which is true?
The fact is that skin is an organ, and just like any other part of the body, your skin is made up of cells. And skin cells, like any other cell in the body, are made up of water. If your skin is not getting the sufficient amount of water, the lack of hydration will present itself by turning your skin dry, tight and flaky. Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling.
As water is lost in large quantities every day, you need to replace it somehow. The unfortunate truth about drinking water and skin is that water will reach all the other organs before it reaches the skin. So, it’s important to apply water to our skin and keep it there – this will not only show a visible difference in hydration, but it can help to prevent wrinkles, as well.
So what is the best way to add water to the skin?
- Apply a hydrating moisturizer within 2 minutes of leaving the bath or shower. The skin is still porous and is vulnerable to products that are applied following the bath or shower, allowing better absorption.
- Apply a product containing hyaluronic acid prior to your moisturizer, such as Glo Therapeutics Retinol and Resurfacing Serum. Hyaluronic acid holds 1,000 times its own weight in water, thus attracting water to the skin and holding it there.
- Drink more water. Drinking at least 8 glasses a day will help rid the body and skin of toxins. Not everyone agrees that water consumption will improve skin… but it certainly can’t hurt. Many people often report that by increasing their water intake, their skin has a more radiant glow. Those who suffer from acne have reported the same results. Nothing will happen overnight, but even a good couple of weeks of increasing water intake should be enough for you to see how hydration affects your own skin.
So, in conclusion, drinking fluids, especially water, is vital for our bodies to function correctly, but it also benefit the appearance of our skin. Go and fill up your glass!
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