Quick! What’s the most important thing for health? Breathing? Yes, stop breathing and you’ll die in a few minutes. We’ll get to that later. How about the second most important thing for staying alive? Any guesses? Exactly! Water. Water is absolutely vital to a body’s function and survival. Stop being hydrated for a few days and you stop living. Remember the remarkable story of the Bangladeshi woman who survived 17 days in the wreckage of a collapsed garment building? She managed that near impossible feat because she had found some bottled water.
Right now I want to explain why water matters so much. There is not a single cell in your body that does not rely on water. Water helps transport the carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that your cells need to make energy. When your body works, functions or moves it does so because water helped transport the necessary fuel or energy building components. By the way, reflect on the word “carbohydrate” for a moment. Do you see the word “hydrate”? That’s not an accident. Carbohydrates are basically hydrates of carbon. Carbon. Hydrogen. Oxygen. Even carbohydrates rely on water.
If that was hard to follow, drink a glass of water. Now. Before you read on. Your brain needs water. Literally! 60 percent of your body weight is made up of water but incredibly it makes up almost 90 percent of your brain. Water lubricates and cushions the brain. It also helps you to think, concentrate, problem solve and remember. With water those important cognitive functions… well, they function. Without water and they stop functioning properly, or worse. A recent study out of the UK indicates that dehydrated adolescents had structural changes in their brains that were equivalent to an Alzheimer patient over a two and a half month period or 14 months of ageing in a healthy adult. In other words, dehydration can cause a teenagers brain to shrink (Human Brain Mapping, 2010). Not a teenager anymore? Water still matters. Mild dehydration, just a one percent loss in body fluids, can impair your concentration and thinking.
Now that you’ve properly hydrated that big brain of yours, do find it difficult to move it around? Are your muscles and joints sore or not functioning properly? Whether at work or play, staying hydrated is key to lubricating and protecting your muscles and joints. While the brain has the highest concentration of water in the body, your muscles are nearly 75 percent water. Remember the Krebs Cycle from grade 10 biology class? No? Maybe that time of your life is a little foggy. Well all you need to know from that class is that the Krebs Cycle is the series of steps that take place in all the cells of your body that creates energy. No water. No energy. Anywhere. You know that sluggish feeling you get in the afternoon? For most people the afternoon crash is caused by a combination of dehydration and bad nutrition. So do yourself a favour. Give yourself more energy by drinking some water. Get tired? Drink some water.
Finally, our heart is one of our most vital organs. Simply drinking water can help to keep it beating properly. A constant water balance in the body through regular hydration allows for blood pressure to be maintained within its target range. Dehydration can make it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body, which can increase our heart rate and decrease our blood pressure. A lower resting heart rate has been linked to a longer life! And we’ve all heard about how important blood pressure is to our health – staying well hydrated is one of the ways that you can keep your blood pressure in the healthy zone.
So make drinking water part of your daily routine. Get a water bottle and keep it with you and fill it up a few times every day. Water is just as important at work as it is in the gym! Stay hydrated, stay healthy and Be Better!
Remember: If it can be done, you can do it! Anything is possible.
Here are some general guidelines from Be Better Nutritionist Trionne Moore (www.trionne.ca):
Body Mass Litres Cups
50 kg (110 lbs.) x 0.036 L 1.8 7.5
60 kg (132 lbs.) x 0.036 L 2.2 9.2
70 kg (154 lbs.) x 0.036 L 2.5 10.4
80 kg (176 lbs.) x 0.036 L 2.9 12
90-60 min pre-workout consume ~ 500 ml
30-15 min pre workout consume ~ 250 ml
Hydration: Exercise & Post-Exercise:
For exercise lasting less than 90 min drink water
For exercise lasting longer than 90 min sport drinks are OK
Aim for 500-1000 ml / hr during exercise
Post-exercise 1 L H2O / kg lost during workout