Drinking Enough Water

Drinking Enough Water is So Important

Here we are standing at the edge of summer, looking forward with anticipation to fun in the sun - swimming, boating, lazy canoe trips down the river, four-wheeling, jet skiing, concerts, rodeos, hiking, bike riding, etc. Our options are endless.

But as we enter this exciting time of the year there are a number of things we need to be mindful of.

I would like to just mention sunburn. A painful sunburn can ruin the greatest party - not to mention restless nights of no sleep.

I remember when, as a teenager, I visited a friend who had a swimming pool. This "friend" continued to spray me with a mist of water to keep my skin moist and shiny. I was thrilled thinking that I was going to get a great tan, but was devastated and in great pain for weeks, when I ended up beet red.

Not only is sunburn painful but it can cause serious skin problems if it happens repeatedly.

Visit our page on sunburn to get a wide variety of ideas of natural things you can do when this condition sneaks up on you or your kids.

The main thing I want to talk about today is drinking enough water. Our amazing bodies are made up of over 70% of water! That is incredible! Our blood is more than 80% water, which is not really a surprise, but did you know that many of the organs of the body are mostly water? For instance, the brain is more than 75% water! And the liver is 96% water!

Because we are made up of so much water, it is easy to see what will happen to us if we aren't drinking enough water. Just think of that plant sitting in your house - when you give it consistent water it stands up tall and looks pretty, but if you neglect it for a while you will find that it droops and looks sickly, and will die pretty quick if we continue to ignore it.

The same with us. The amount of water we drink greatly affects our energy level. Sometimes when we feel tired, or can't think, all we need is a glass of water! Even when you are wanting to snack and munch, often it is because we aren't drinking enough water and a glass of water is what your body is really asking for.

Medical studies have shown that a 5% drop in body fluids can cause a 25% to 30% loss of energy in the average person. A 15% drop in body fluids can cause death.

In hot or humid weather, you need to drink additional water to help lower your body temperature and replace the water that you lose by perspiring or sweating. Sweating can be caused by exertion or just by sitting around where it is hot.

Sweating is part of the body's natural defense. The primary purpose of sweating is the elimination of waste products, but another very important purpose is to keep the body from overheating. By adding a layer to water to the surface of your skin, it cools you down.

While working out hard at the gym you can loose a quart or more of water. Add to that the sun and wind involved when you are participating in all those outdoor activities in the summer sun, and you can see the danger we face if we aren't drinking enough water.

Everyone knows that it is important to avoid dehydration. Dehydration is defined as: "Excessive loss of water from the body or from an organ or a body part, as occurs during illness of fluid deprivation."

When we are dehydrated we can suffer different symptoms, beginning with tiredness and lack of ability to concentrate, headaches and backaches, all the way to muscle cramps and spasms - even to death in extreme cases!

Our sons are avid mountain bikers so go long distances, often on extreme uphill trails, in the hot sun. They wear a hydration pack and drink every 15 to 20 minutes. Mike said, "If you don't drink every 15 or 20 minutes you loose more water than you replace and when dehydration sets in you hit the wall. You have no energy. It is hard to move. You almost have to crawl out. It takes a long time to recover."

Our other son, Matt, is a body builder who, when training, works out three times a day. He carries a gallon jug of water around with him everywhere he goes. If he isn't drinking enough water he slows down, get's light headed and dizzy, can suffer muscle cramping and nausea, and even pass out.

The question - When should you start drinking water in order to avoid dehydration?

The answer - Start two hours before you begin a day in the sun by drinking 15 to 20 ounces of water. Eight ounces of water is one cup so drink 2 to 3 cups of water. This allows you to hydrate properly and to begin your day with energy. Then, when you begin your activity, stay hydrated by drinking often, every 15 to 20 minutes is realistic, especially in the hot sun. Don't wait until you are thirsty.

Drink your water in small amounts frequently. Studies have proven that this helps your body absorb fluids more rapidly and effectively, causing you to be well hydrated - thus causing you to have lots of energy.

If you have a tendency to ignore this important need to drink fluids, it might be a good idea to set your watch to remind you to drink until it becomes a habit.

Then again, at the end of the activity enjoy a large glass of water with lemon, or drink a sports drink to help replenish the electrolytes your body lost throughout the activity.

Dehydration is a serious condition that we often overlook. If we take steps to stay hydrated before, during, and after an activity we not only maintain an important energy level, but we protect our internal organs and prevent muscle damage.

So with that reminder - have a wonderful hydrated summer.