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Sunday, Sep. 14, 2014

It's not just me, water is good for you

Friday, July 15, 2011

Since I was in high school, I have learned the importance of drinking water. My wife, on the other hand, thinks I'm crazy.

I've been taught that water is the key to life. In fact, the Mayo Clinic's website, in an article titled "Water: How much should you drink every day?," states that "water is essential to good health."

What is it that makes water so important? First off, our bodies are made up of 60 percent water. Throughout the day we lose water due to sweat, evaporation and urination. I saw a commercial on TV the other day in which a kid asked the question, "if we are losing water, then why don't we drink water?" I thought that was a great message.

Water is used in the body as a way to flush toxins out of the vital organs, carry nutrients to cells and provide a moist environment for the ears, nose and throat tissues, according to the article.

Dehydration is caused when you do not drink enough water to replace the water lost throughout the day. Symptoms of dehydration include dry or sticky mouth, fatigue, thirst, decreased urine output (any urine that is produced will be dark yellow or amber), dry skin, headache, constipation, dizziness or lightheadedness, irritability and confusion, lack of sweating, as well as many others.

Everyone knows that we are supposed to drink eight glasses of water, but how accurate is that now? According to the Mayo Clinic, the amount of water each person should drink depends on their activity level, health, and location.

"Although no single formula fits everyone, knowing more about your body's need for fluids will help you estimate how much water to drink each day," the article said.

Two major factors in the amount of water you should drink are exercise and environment. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you exercise or engage in any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to compensate for the fluid loss. An extra 400 to 600 milliliters (about 1.5 to 2.5 cups) of water should suffice for short bouts of exercise, but intense exercise lasting more than an hour requires more fluid intake. As important as it is to drink water while exercising, it is equally important to continue after you've finished exercising.

People who live in hot or humid climates are also more likely to sweat more, therefore, running a higher risk of dehydration. Likewise, those who live in cold areas could lose moisture as a result of indoor heating systems.

Using thirst as the primary trigger for drinking water may not always be the best idea, especially as you age, according to the Mayo Clinic.

"If you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate," the article said. "It's generally not a good idea to use thirst alone as a guide for when to drink. By the time you become thirsty, you may already be slightly dehydrated. Further, as you get older your body is less able to sense dehydration and send your brain signals of thirst."

To read the Mayo Clinic's full article visit www.mayoclinic.com/health/water/NU00283.

Michael Pommier
The Shrinking Man