A human can live weeks without food, but within three days without liquid, the body begins to break down and die. Why is that?
Human bodies average around 60% water, and every one of our billions of cells needs water to function properly. There is fluid outside of the cells (extracellular fluid) as well as inside the cells (intracellular fluid) which serves to provide oxygen and nutrients to the cells and carry waste products out. Water also lubricates our joints and regulates body temperature.
We lose an average of 2.5 liters/day by excreting waste, sweating and even exhaling, so that’s quite a deficit to replace. Without proper hydration our cells can’t perform and our blood volume level will drop.
The root of all illness?
You may be thinking, “I don’t drink much fluid during the day, and I’m fine.” True, you’re not suffering from acute dehydration – what you picture happening to someone stranded in the middle of a desert, but the truth is the majority of us are chronically dehydrated, dangerous because a state of chronic dehydration can cause—and worsen—a host of illnesses.
Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj agrees that a lack of water is the cause of many health problems. In fact, in his book Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, he contends that all illness is rooted in dehydration.
Among illnesses that can be prevented or treated with proper hydration are fatigue, depression, arthritis, high and low blood pressure, high cholesterol, eczema, rheumatism, gastric disorders, migraines and even premature aging. Wow!
I’m convinced! What do I need to do?
Pay attention to your thirst because it’s the signal that your body needs hydration, and it is proportionate to the deficit. But also realize that our bodies hide dehydration very well, so by the time you actually feel thirst, you are already mildly dehydrated.
To stay ahead of your hydration needs, aim for 2.5 liters of fluid every day. Part of this will be water and some will come from other beverages and foods.
How much water should I drink?
General rule of thumb: Drink 50% of your weight in ounces of water daily.
For example, a 150-pound person should drink 75 ounces of water daily. But this number maxes out at 100 ounces daily, so even if you are more than 200 pounds, keep it at 100 ounces. The rest of your fluids will come from other beverages (yes, even your morning coffee counts) and foods.
Foods with highest water content are vegetables (cucumber is the winner at 97% water); fruits are a close second (for example, tomato has 97%, watermelon has 92%); meats contain a good percentage of water (chicken has 70%), as do eggs (74%) and milk (87%).
A good way to measure your hydration level is to monitor your urine. You should be drinking enough that you need to urinate every 2-4 hours and urine should be very light-colored.
What kind of water should I drink?
For most of us, tap water is safe, but if you prefer filtered water, there are pitchers designed to filter water as well as various filters you can install directly onto your faucet. Or you can purchase a system, like the Berkey, that allows for you to filter all of your drinking water in your home.
The Chamber’s Health & Wellness Committee is a dedicated group of local professionals with a passion for wellness! We spearhead the Annual Healthy Business Challenge and equip chamber members with important health-related information and valuable wellness resources. Our goal is to engage employers, convey the importance of wellness in the workplace, and cultivate a thriving, healthy community. Come see what we’re all about. Learn More