Water – the elixir of life, the fundamental fluid that makes up about 75% of our human body, and about 80% of our brain. The zero-calorie wonder that can quench your thirst and keep your body’s systems functioning smoothly. But also, that much overlooked beverage most Americans don’t drink enough of.
According to a five-year (2005 – 2010) survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. youth drank an average of 15 ounces of water and U.S. adults drank an average of 39 ounces of water on a given day. That’s far less than the seven to eight glasses of water a day that we’re told we should aim for, or the general recommendations of the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board that women should get approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water – from all beverages and foods – each day, and men an average of approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water.
Instead, we’re pounding the lattes and Frappuccino’s, and robbing our bodies and brains of much needed, non-caffeinated healthy fluids (caffeine is a diuretic, which causes further fluid loss). The result is that many of us are dehydrated but don’t really know it.
Here are a few reasons why that’s not healthy:
- Your brain (again, made of 80% water) feels the effects of even mild dehydration (a 3 to 4% reduction in water) which can result in fatigue, mental fogginess, headaches and, according to some ongoing research, increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Getting adequate fluids keeps your digestive system working smoothly, helps deliver nutrients to your cells, flushes out your bladder and reduces the risk of constipation and kidney stones.
- Drinking water is beneficial to your heart health. Dehydration lowers your blood volume, making your heart work harder to pump the reduced amount of blood and get enough oxygen to your cells.
- Your energy level and sleep quality improve when you are adequately hydrated. Think of water as the essential fuel in your body’s gas tank, to both power you up for a busy active day, and to help you rest and rejuvenate.
- Getting adequate hydration helps your body regulate its temperature, which, as summer bears down, becomes critical here in the humid Lowcountry, especially for infants and the elderly.
So drink up, and eat fresh fruits and vegetables (20% of your needed water comes from foods). Stay cool and hydrated, for your healthiest self.