Many of us are guilty of walking right past the office water cooler and heading straight for the soda machine. This is especially true when we need that mid-afternoon pick-me-up to help us cross the finish line. With so many choices these days from fancy coffee to flavored sodas to energy drinks that promise the world in a can, it’s easy to pass up something as simple as water.
Unfortunately most of the drinks we are drawn to are loaded with sugar, caffeine and calories and fail to offer any health benefits. So maybe it’s time to rethink our choice of beverage and get back to the basics. Water is, after all, the most essential substance on the planet.
Nearly a billion people around the world live without constant access to clean, safe drinking water, yet we too easily take it for granted here in the United States. It’s a necessity that we can’t live without yet many of us take in too little. We need to be reminded of the importance of water and become more conscious of how much our life depends on it.
Our Body Needs Water
Our organs and tissues are primarily made up of water. In fact, the human body is made up of approximately 60% water. Water protects our vital organs and helps transport nutrients and oxygen to the cells. We can live weeks without food but only a few days without water. It’s necessary for almost every bodily function from digesting foods to regulating body temperature to replenishing lost fluids. Sufficient water can prevent urinary infections, help maintain healthy skin, remove toxins from your body and keep your brain working at full capacity.
Are You Drinking Enough Water?
Many of us don’t get the necessary amount of water each day. And since caffeine acts as a diuretic, coffee and soda drinkers are adding to the problem. There are a few indicators that may help you to realize you are not drinking enough water.
Common signs that your body may be telling you that you are dehydrated:
- You feel thirsty.
As obvious as this is, many people ignore the messages of their own bodies.
- You feel tired.
Water is a source of energy. When you feel sluggish, it may be a sign that you are not drinking enough water.
- Dry skin.
Your skin, which is the largest organ, can tell you a lot. If you notice your skin is dry, it may be time to increase your daily water intake.
- Change in the color of your urine.
If you are not drinking enough water you will notice darker urine. It may even appear to be orange.
- Migraines or headaches.
Dehydration can lead to severe headaches. If you notice that you are getting more headaches, increase your water intake and see if that helps.
Dehydration can lead to dizziness, kidney problems and a change in your blood pressure. Drinking a sufficient amount of water can really enhance the quality of your life and even prevent illness.
So how much is enough?
The exact amount of water needed varies from person to person but the common rule is 8 glasses a day. Factors such as weather, activity level and health conditions should be taken into consideration. There are foods such as fruits and vegetables that contain a high percentage of water as well. In fact, about 20% of our daily water intake comes from the foods we eat. You shouldn’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water. It’s best to hydrate throughout the day. A good indication that you are getting enough water is that you rarely feel thirsty and your urine appears to be light yellow.
Most people who trade in their vices for pure drinking water admit they feel healthier and more vibrant, have less mood swings, sleep better at night and have more control over their appetite. Drinking water throughout the day is a habit worth picking up. It is possible to drink too much water, however. Overdoing it can put a burden on your kidneys and increase your blood volume. It’s important to listen to your body because it will tell you what it needs.
So the next time you reach out for something hoping it will satisfy your thirst, give you energy and make you feel great, consider something as simple as water.
Elaine is the former host of “The Shape Fitness Show” on 97.1FM and 980AM in Los Angeles. Check out her site at GodaiFit.com