Temperature is rising worldwide, and the occurrence of mass heat waves has caused dehydration and death to many areas in the world. While there are concededly environmental concerns that are brought to the fore, it is also important to ask why people outside these extreme weather conditions suffer similarly from dehydration, and why they do not look to water for the benefits it offers for hydration.
Water is perhaps one of the most under-appreciated items in our daily diet. Composed of simply two hydrogen carbons and one oxygen atom, water in its simplicity in fact does great wonders for our health. It not only freshens and rejuvenate the body, but it also regulates body temperature, lubricates the eyes and joints, detoxify the body, and helps improve circulation.
Without water, what the body experiences is dehydration. Dehydration is when the normal water content of the body is reduced, usually signaled at the onset by a pang of thirst. The problem with dehydration is that without water, the delicate chemical balance in the body, primarily of potassium and sodium contents, is disturbed. When one is dehydrated, there is a feeling of thirst, fatigue, and cramping in the abdomen. Some people who experience a great deal of dehydration may even faint.
Dehydration, however, does not only happen when you’re exposed to heat. Sure, when the heat kicks in, the body goes on overdrive to cool itself down by sweating in order to regulate body temperature. However, because the rate of sweating increases because body temperature rises much faster under the heat of the sun, much more water is needed to be circulating around the body.
However, gastric conditions like diarrhea and gastroenteritis also put a stress on the body and its water content. Diarrhea, characterized by frequent, watery, and loose bowels, causes the body to increase fluidity of its intestinal contents to speed up the expulsion of unwanted viral or bacterial content. In the process of expelling bowel, people experiencing diarrhea or gastroenteritis lose a huge amount of bodily water.
Therefore, it is easy to conclude that one must always hydrate. But is eight glasses of water a good rule of thumb? For starters, it’s important to drink water even before you are thirsty. Thirst is one of the first symptoms of dehydration, so it’s important to drink water once in a while regardless of that feeling of thirst.
While eight glasses of water may be a good device to help you keep track of how much water you’re drinking, a sound measure of how much water to consume is to consume water equal to one half of your body weight in ounces. However, it is important to adjust your water intake depending on how much salt or caffeinated products you consume. With greater salt and caffeine intake, it is important to consume more water. Caffeinated drinks like coffee are diuretics and increase the frequency of trips we make to the bathroom, causing the body to lose water much faster.
While fruit beverages, milk, and others are good for your body, remember that nothing works as great as water. These fruit beverages and milk are not to become substitutes for your water intake. Moreover, people make the mistake of drinking carbonated drinks like soda and soft drinks in exchange for water when they feel thirsty. This is a big mistake. Carbonated drinks in fact hasten dehydration, which defeats the purpose of consuming the beverage to hydrate in the first place.
When exercising, the body sweats faster, causing a loss of bodily fluids. Scientists advise that for such occasions, a drink of water with a good measure of salt and electrolytes are a good way to replace lost body fluid. This may be done on your own with Oral Re hydration Salts. However, a lot of health drinks with electrolytes and ions already provide the same benefit. Thus one can clearly see that a task as insignificant as drinking water can have disastrous consequences if not done in the proper way and in the right quantity. So for healthy living; keep drinking!