Challenge Day 3: Meet Your Daily Water Requirements
You’re doing AWESOME! Today is Day 3 of the 5-day Challenge, and today we’re going to find out exactly how much water we need to drink daily, and focus on getting it in.
Before I talk about our water requirements, I just want to say that I know how challenging no-added sugar can be. I used to be a seriously skinny-fat sugar addict, and when I get stressed I still revert to sweets. I’ve noticed that the older I get, the more quickly I see the results of those indulgences – in the worst places! – and one of my personal goals this year is to become much more mindful of my sugar intake. Cleaning up the sugar in my daily intake really gets my body back on track and eliminates any jiggles, dimples or flab that starts to creep up.
My strategy is no added sugar 5 days a week (just like this challenge) and then I enjoy some on the weekend in minimal amounts – for example going out for breakfast or dinner and being able to order pancakes, or being fine with sharing a dessert with a friend. Getting out of the habit of having “just one” treat every day can definitely become a bad habit.
Natural sugar that’s in the food we eat is plenty of sugar for our body to process on a regular basis. And one of the most important resources your body has to process sugar is water. Water is one of the most essential components in the human body, making up 75% of all muscle tissue, and 10% of fatty tissue. It also transports nutrients (like sugar) through cells, and filters wastes.
Are you dehydrated?
Many of us are dehydrated and we don’t even know it. Water is necessary to the function of all our internal organs, and we have to replenish daily. One of the most common causes of digestive problems, lymph congestion (your immune system), and the inability to naturally detoxify is dehydration.
If you exercise regularly, it is essential that you stay hydrated. Dehydration causes muscle fatigue and cramping, and the body’s ability to thermoregulate (maintain body temperature) is decreased.
Scientific evidence shows that moderate caffeine intake does not affect athletic performance (and can in fact slightly improve it) or hydration status, but alcohol consumption can interfere with muscle recovery from exercise, and negatively impact a number of other performance variables. If you’re consuming alcohol regularly or drinking more than a cup of coffee daily, you need to be aware of the dehydrating effect they can have.
How much water do you need?
So, how much water do you need to stay hydrated? The Food and Nutrition Board recommends general guidelines by age and gender as follows:
Women: between the ages of 19-70 need 2.7 L per day (avg)
(slightly higher during pregnancy and significantly higher during nursing)
Men: between the ages of 19-90 need 3.7 L per day (avg)
These amounts include “all beverages, including moisture in foods (high moisture foods include watermelon, meats, soups, etc)” (National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board). Which means you don’t necessarily need to drink 2.7 or 3.7 L of water daily, as some of your fluid needs will be met in the food you eat.
Because we’re all made up a little differently, our water needs may vary. Factors in your recommended daily intake include age, activity level and where you live (climate and altitude have an effect on how your body uses water).
For example, 2 L of water is roughly 9 (8 oz) glasses of water. And 3 L of water is about 13 (8oz) glasses of water a day. So if you’re trying to meet your water needs and you’re aiming for 2 L of water a day, that’s refilling a 600 mL water bottle 3 and a half times. That’s refilling a 32 oz water bottle a little more than twice.
A slightly different approach is to divide your ideal body weight by 2, and drink that amount in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 120 lbs, drink 60 oz of water a day. This amount does not include the fluids you absorb from other foods and liquids.
Carry your water bottle with you, and fill it up regularly. Remember, the goal is to help the body maintain equilibrium of temperature, and support the many cellular activities going on at all times.
Factors that influence fluid intake
If you exercise, or do anything that makes you sweat, drink extra water. 1.5-2 extra cups is good for short rounds, but for longer more endurance style exercise, drink more.
Pregnancy or breastfeeding requires more fluid intake.
Hot and humid weather, or hot indoor conditions that make you sweat also requires that you drink more water. Altitude higher than 8,200 feet can stimulate urination and increased respiration (breathing), which also require more fluid replenishment.
If you’re sick, or develop an infection focus on staying hydrated, and rehydrating (with the exception of some types of kidney, liver and adrenal disease which can impair the body’s ability to excrete water). Remember what I said earlier about natural detoxification? Water helps transport and filter waste from our body. Staying hydrated will help protect you from getting sick, as your lymph drainage pathways will stay open and be able to do their natural filtering.
An ancient Ayurvedic rehydration remedy that will help flush the lymph on the outside of the intestinal wall and improve your body’s natural ability to filter waste and digest is to sip plain, hot boiled water every 10-15 minutes (in addition to your regular water intake). The hot water stimulates circulation and vaso dilation (where pores and tissues open up) which increases hydration.
How do you know if you’re hydrated?
Probably the easiest and most common way to know if you’re hydrated is to monitor your urine. It should be pale yellow to clear, and you should be urinating on average 3-4 times a day.
The first sign of dehydration is thirst, followed by headache and fatigue. Many people who suffer from erratic energy are dehydrated. Severe dehydration symptoms include nausea, chills, increased heart rate, light headedness, and the inability to sweat. Medical attention is in order in those cases.
Benefits of hydration to your Body
- Your brain: Being well-hydrated ensures that your brain can get enough oxygen-rich blood, and keep you alert. Even mild dehydration (1-2% of bodyweight) can cause a lack of focus and inability to concentrate.
- Cells: water transports carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and oxygen to the cells, which produce energy so we can function. Water also transports waste products and supports detoxification of our body.
- Digestion: water dissolves nutrients in our digestive tract, ensuring they can be absorbed into the bloodstream and reach the cells. Insufficient hydration slows digestion, and can lead to constipation.
- Heart: water ensures your blood pressure maintains a normal range. Dehydration causes your heart to work harder than it should to pump blood through your body, and can lead to a rise in heart rate, and fall in blood pressure.
- Kidneys: water is absolutely essential to the filtration of waste and excess nutrients through the kidneys, mostly via the urine. The kidneys regulate your body’s water level by increasing or decreasing the amount of urine you excrete, as well as controlling your sodium and electrolyte balance.
- Muscles and Joints: water lubricates and cushions joints, and keeps muscles working properly. 70-75% of muscle is made up of water. Hydration is essential to proper muscle function.
- Temperature: water is an important thermoregulator – maintaining the body’s temperature. When we are too hot, the body releases water in the form of sweat.
Remember to stay hydrated, today and every day to ensure your body is in an optimum state.
Your one minute moves for today are the same as Monday and Tuesday, be sure to post how many of each you got each minute! Keep up the great work and I’ll see you tomorrow!