The Importance of Hydration
Hydration: Being hydrated allows the body to fully engage in exercise and fitness workouts. Without proper hydration, the body strains itself and is not able to perform to its highest capabilities. That being said, many active individuals including athletes do not know much about hydration outside of knowing you need to drink water while you exercise. There is much more to hydration than simply water during workouts.
Hydration comes from the foods that we eat as well as the fluids that we drink.
According to the National Athletic Trainers Association, “During exercise, evaporation is usually the primary mechanism of heat dissipation. The evaporation of sweat from the skin’s surface assists the body in regulating core temperature” (NATA, 2000). Sweating is a key component of exercise because if the body does not sweat, it is not able to release heat and core temperature rises. Therefore, if your sweat output exceeds your fluid intake while working out, it is increasingly easy to become dehydrated.
Clearly severe levels of dehydration affect performance and can have a negative impact on overall health, but even the slightest level of dehydration can and will negatively impact performance.
Adequate water is important for daily life functions.
Just how much water do we need, and what is it doing inside our bodies?
Humans are made up of about two thirds water. Without enough in our diets, we would die in a matter of days. There are couple different recommendations as far as how much water we should drink daily. The National Institute of Medicine recommends 3 Litres for men and 2.2 Litres for women. This total includes water from beverages other than water. More water should be consumed if you’ve been exercising, been out in the heat, have a medical condition that requires more water, or if you’re pregnant.
So What does water do for our bodies?
- Temperature Regulation
When we get too hot, we make sweat. Without enough water in our diet, we can’t make enough sweat. Temperature regulation, and prevention of over heating, can be accomplished by drinking adequate water. The more you sweat, the more you need. If you weigh yourself prior to exercise then weigh yourself after you can determine how much water you lost by sweating. Each pound lost is about 500mL of water that needs replacing. It is essential that this is replaced!
- Kidney Function
Kidneys are one of the most hard working organs in our bodies. They regulate electrolytes, filter blood for toxins and regulate blood pressure. All functions of the kidney involve filtering blood through tiny tubes. Filtering can be made easier by drinking adequate water. Picture yourself making filter coffee. Put one cup of coffee grounds and a few teaspoons of water into the cup. Try to make the coffee. The result may be thick coffee, or none at all. Now make the coffee with one tablespoon of coffee grounds and a cup of water. It filters much easier! Your kidney works in the same way. Do your kidneys a favor and drink enough water.
- Regular Digestion
We always hear that fibre helps maintain proper digestion. This is very true! The important fact that gets left out is with increased fibre in the diet, we need to increase water. Fibre is like exercise for your gut. It is indigestible and, for the most part, passes straight through your body. Water helps the intestine with a medium to work with. When eating high fibre foods such as cerael, crackers, grainy breads you often need butter or milk to make it easier to eat. Fiber without sufficient water can actually create constipation, the opposite of what most are trying to achieve with a high fibre foods.
Water is an extremely important part of our daily diets. Drinking enough water daily helps maintain healthy bodies inside and out.