"That’s some high-quality H2O” – Bobby Boucher, The Waterboy.
Maintaining good hydration is crucial to maintaining good health. Water makes up approximately 95% of the human brain and 82% of the blood in our body. Water is the most important nutrient for health, growth, and development.
The slightest percent of dehydration can cause decreased concentration, decreased strength, cramping, slow muscular response, delayed reactions and reduced endurance.
Poor hydration can lead to:
• Digestive issues such as constipation
• Dry and itchy skin
• Headaches or migraines
• Poor hydration weakens the body's immune system and leads to chemical, nutritional and pH imbalances.
Hydration and Weight Loss
Being properly hydrated can assist in weight loss. The thirst mechanism is often mistaken for hunger, leading to unnecessary calorie consumption, when you could have satisfied your “hunger” with a glass of water. Water can naturally suppress appetite and increases the body's ability to metabolize stored fat.
Health Benefits of Staying Hydrated
By assuring we are adequately hydrated, our bodies also benefit by having healthier skin, teeth, bones and joints. Water is essential for nutrient absorption and many chemical reactions in the body for overall health, including proper brain function.
Water helps improve the digestive process and is essential in maintaining a healthy digestive system. Water is important for the metabolising of food. Drinking plenty of water will help the body process and transport nutrients and excrete any waste products once they are metabolized.
Water reduces fatigue even though it does not provide energy it plays an important role in energy transformation. Water is required for energy reactions take place. Dehydration leads to lethargy. Athletes who become dehydrated often find reduced performance in the days following.
Hydration practices for training and athletic performance
It is essential that you stay hydrated if you want to perform optimally in and out of the gym. Water aids circulation, and helps regulate body temperature which is beneficial during training. Water helps form the structures of protein and glycogen. Muscles are made mostly of water. Dehydration can prevent muscles from properly contracting, reducing muscle tone. Increasing water intake will help prevent muscle cramping, improve the strength of muscle contractions and quicken muscle response.
If you are training in a hot environment, you need to constantly hydrate during and after your workout to enhance your performance and recovery. Even being slightly dehydrated can result in suboptimal athletic performance. Improper hydration can result in muscle cramping, decreased strength and reduced endurance. Don’t wait for a signal. By the time you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. Instead of relying on a signal, drink water at regular intervals regardless of thirst.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
Start the day with a 500mL glass of water. It is important to hydrate after going without water for the 6-8 hours you were asleep. It helps to flush out any toxins in the body and will set your day up with a positive and healthy behaviour.
• Have a 250mL glass of water before each meal.
• Use a large water bottle with measurements clearly labelled and set yourself “water goals” for each hour you are awake.
• Take a water bottle in the car/bus/train with you and keep one with you when you’re at work.
• Set an alarm to remind yourself to drink water every hour you are awake.