What’s all the fuss about drinking water, anyway?

The Fuss About Hydration

These days everyone seem to carry purchased bottled water everywhere they go. In fact, bottled water has become the second most popular drink (behind soft drinks). But water lovers got a jolt recently when they heard a new report had found that the benefits of drinking water may have been oversold, and mostly oversold by research paid by the bottled water industry. Apparently, the old suggestion to drink eight glasses a day was nothing more than a guideline, not based on scientific evidence.

So why does he Institute of Medicine advocate for 13 cups of water a day for men and 9 cups for women?

In 1945, the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board recommended that people drink 2.5 liters (84.5 ounces) a day. Evidently, most who read this research then ignored the following sentence, “Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.” Whatever “prepared” meant in 1945, all food contains water, especially whole vegetables and fruits.

BUT, don’t through away your favorite water bottle just yet!

According to ThoughtCo.com, water serves multiple purposes:

  • Water is the primary building block of cells.
  • It acts as an insulator, regulating internal body temperature. This is partly because water has a high specific heat, plus the body uses perspiration and respiration to regulate temperature.
  • Water is needed to metabolize proteins and carbohydrates used as food. It is the primary component of saliva, used to digest carbohydrates and aid in swallowing food.
  • The compound lubricates joints.
  • Water insulates the brain, spinal cord, organs, and fetus. It acts as a shock absorber.
  • Water is used to flush waste and toxins from the body via urine.
  • Water is the principal solvent in the body. It dissolves minerals, soluble vitamins, and certain nutrients.
  • Water carries oxygen and nutrients to cells.

So It’s true – water is still good for you. No matter how you try to argue in favor of other beverages, water is what helps your body function through each day. Sugared drinks like sodas, sports drinks, and sweetened teas are not healthy. But small amounts of juice, coffee, tea and herbal teas (without sugar) are also sources of fluids for the body, but can come with other properties like caffeine that you may not tolerate well.

What about weight loss?

For years, dieters have been drinking lots of water as a weight loss strategy. While water doesn’t have any magical effect on weight loss, substituting it for higher calorie sugar beverages obviously is going to help the bottom line. And diet sodas has chemical substitutes for sugar we want to stay way from as your body doesn’t know what to do with them.

“What works with weight loss is if you choose water or a non-caloric beverage over a caloric beverage and/or eat a diet higher in water-rich foods that are healthier, more filling, and help you trim calorie intake,” says Penn State researcher Barbara Rolls, PhD

Additionally, Trent Nessler, PT, DPT, MPT, managing director of Baptist Sports Medicine in Nashville, explains how the metabolism works and how the proper amount of water is so vital for the metabolism. He explains that the metabolism is essentially a series of chemical reactions that happen in the body – and staying hydrated keeps all of those reactions functioning normally and smoothly. In fact, just being 1% dehydrated can cause a massive drop in metabolism.

So how much water should you really drink?

Well the human body is beautifully designed to let you know you need to drink long before you are at risk of becoming dehydrated. Drink when you are thirsty. If you are doing strenuous work in a hot environment, you need to drink extra fluid to make up for what you lose through perspiration (sweat). Use the color of your urine as a guide. Your urine should be light yellow. If it looks like water, you are drinking more than you need. If it is dark yellow or orange you need to drink more.

If your an athlete you may need to drink more water as you train. Amanda Carlson, RD, director of performance nutrition at Athletes’ Performance, trains many world-class athletes and has personal insight into how much water people drink — and how they’re often not drinking as much as they truly need. In my experience, most people are not aware of how much they’re drinking and are not drinking enough — many, as little as half of what they need,” She told WebMD, that if you do not give your body the right amount of fluids it requires for proper functioning, you will experience stress. Dehydration can also increase Cortisol levels in the blood. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is triggered when there is not enough water in the blood. The really good news is your body will remind you to drink way before that happens

You probably have never noticed, but water drinkers hardly get sick. The American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports reduced risk of flu, cancer, heart attack, and stroke among people who drink adequate amounts of water. When there is a lot of water in the body, the kidneys work to excrete the excess fluid to maintain a normal balance. This is why people, who keep themselves hydrated, hardly experience constipation, digestive, kidney problems, and vaginal bacterial infections. Their system naturally gets rid of toxins.

The bottom line, it’s not a one-size-fits-all deal, and it varies based on your size and exercise level, which is obviously different from person to person. The easiest way to stay hydrated is keeping a glass water bottle with you throughout the day so you don’t turn to sugar drinks for hydration. Also, filter your tap water at home to save the environment from the plastic and save you from what the plastic is leaching into your water. Eat a diet of water rich fruits and vegetables, but don’t feel the need to count the fluid ounces, your body will let you know when you go if your hydrated or not.