Do you struggle with getting the volume of water you need (aka drinking half your body weight in ounces ... daily!)? I get it, the struggle is real!
One of the most common things people tell me is, “I don’t drink enough water!”
With up to 70 percent of your body being water, there’s no question that it plays an important role in your health. It transports nutrients and helps flush toxins from your body. It also balances your body’s temperature, lubricates your joints and provides structure to your internal organs, tissues and cells.
It also aids in cardiovascular function and weight management. In fact, research shows that your heart works harder if you’re not drinking enough water. The reason is that your blood becomes thicker when there is less liquid in your body, and your heart muscles must work harder to pump your blood through the circulatory system.
Yup! It’s important!
A few studies in the American College of Sports Medicine Journal show that even mild dehydration can impair mood, memory and brain performance. It can even increase headache frequency. It’s a running joke in our house ... because if you have a headache or feel irritable, you will be asked, “how much water have you drank today?”
Dehydration can occur if you lose as little as 2 percent of your body’s water content ... and that’s not very much. However, as little as 1 percent dehydration impairs cognitive function (attentiveness, critical thinking skills and memory). Dehydration develops from poor fluid intake or excessive fluid losses through sweat, urine or loose bowel movements. In addition to improving cognitive function, water can also relieve constipation and aid in sustaining weight loss by improving a sluggish and slow metabolism.
It’s also important to know that we physically feel hunger and thirst the same way. Only very young children can make a distinction between hunger and thirst because they are more in tune with their bodies. So, if you just ate a few hours ago and now you’re feeling hungry again, try drinking some water instead of reaching for that snack.
Beware of liquids such as coffee, tea, alcohol, soda, sugar-loaded sports drinks and sugary fruit drinks as they don’t hydrate the body like pure water. Many of them (especially those containing caffeine) increase the rate of dehydration in the body. If you are looking for a more natural alternative to just drinking water, nature’s sports drink is coconut water. It’s loaded with natural electrolytes that keep your body’s systems in balance during the hot summer temperatures and especially when you are sweating excessively.
As with anything in nutrition, the quality of your water counts too. The safest and easiest thing you can do to ensure clean water is to buy a quality water filter to remove toxic pollutants and minerals from your water.
Fran Sutherlin is a local registered dietitian, health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition, which has offices in Durango and Bayfield. She can be reached at 444-2122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.