Tuesday, July 31, 2012
We've all been told to drink enough water, but how many of us are adequately hydrated? The daily requirement for water for inactive males is 3.5 liters (about 14 cups); for inactive females the requirement is 2.5 liters (about 10 cups). This is to replace losses in breath, sweat, urine, feces, and metabolic processes that use water (these reactions are referred to by the blanket term hydrolisis). The water can come in the form of food or beverages.
Fruits and vegetables are mainly water, and a diet exclusively of plant foods can go far towards hydrating you. In fact, if you were to eat 2,000 calories solely from fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods, like beans, you could get as much as 3.5 liters of water, meeting the requirement for either sex. This is because fruits and vegetables are as much as 90 percent water. In contrast, grains, nuts, and animal foods are drier in that they contain less water.
But even on such a plant food diet, the active person (which we hope means YOU) should not neglect to supplement intake with good ole plain water. A good rule of thumb is for every thirty minutes you exercise, drink one pint (16 oz.) of water. It also helps to drink water first thing in the morning (1 pint), and before lunch and dinner. Also, before and after exercising.
We urge you to guard against dehydration, especially in the summer months. The effects of dehydration can be devastating, and in many cases mimic the effects of very serious health conditions. It is not uncommon for someone who has not been getting enough fluids to feel one or more of the following symptoms: fatigue, dizziness, depression, dry skin, irritability, headache, constipation, and poor workout recovery. Who doesn't feel these, and how easy they are to address!
Signs of dehydration include rapid heart rate and decreased urine output. If you are not urinating every 2 to 3 hours, or if your urine is darker than the color of lemonade, or if you feel dizzy when you stand up quickly, you need to drink more water.
Take home message: If you're sedentary, drink at least 4 cups of water during the summer months. If you are active, drink at least 8 cups. This is assuming you are a vegan and derive 2.5 to 3.5 liters of water from your food. If you eat meat, nuts, or grains, you may need to drink more.
Also, drink cold water, it is absorbed more quickly by the stomach. Plus, it has the added benefit of cooling you off more quickly than even a cold dip in the pool. Drinking cold water also increases your metabolism, an added benefit.
Finally, if you sweat a lot, be sure to replace sodium losses by salting your food, or by adding 1 tsp of salt per liter of water, as about 1 g of sodium is lost in every liter of sweat.
Also, aim for distilled or spring water. Tap water has chemical residues and chlorine; however, tap water is better than no water.
Drink more water and watch your energy levels soar!