Water is the Essence of Life
Water and health go hand in hand. Everyone knows we need eight 8 oz glasses of water per day. Really? Actually that is just a general guideline for the imaginary “average” person.
Just as no two people are identical, no two individuals water needs are identical. It varies according to many lifestyle factors including level of activity, exercise habits, geography, muscle tone and body fat plus several others.
Water is an essential nutrient that our body cannot produce. It must be obtained in food, drink or supplements.
Most people have a water content between 65-70% but the exact percentage has much to do with muscle mass and body fat.
Since body fat contains little to no water and muscle tissue is about 70% water, we can see a wide difference in water content of the bodies of an obese person and a muscular body builder.
Typically we lose muscle tissue and gain body fat as we age; so our water requirements change over the years.
Losing muscle mass and gaining fat weight is not a normal aging process; it is more the result of becoming lazy and falling into bad lifestyle habits.
Muscle mass can be retained by resistance training and exercise and fat can be kept within a normal range by maintaining discipline in nutrition and food choices.
What Does Water Do For Us?
Besides quenching our thirst, many functions of the body are related to water. The most important role of water is to dissipate and regulate heat loss. Concerning heat, it is very similar to the radiator and cooling fluid in our cars.
The water has more important mission to transport digested nutrients to the cells in the blood. The blood then takes the nutrients to the organs, tissues and structures where they are needed.
Water also allows for lubrication of the joints. Think of the synovial fluid in our joints which has to retain a high level of water content. In addition to lubrication, the water transports nutrients in and carries waste products out as well.
Tears are mostly water, as is mucous. Both are cleansing agents and the removal of foreign material is their main role.
Water Storage in the Body
The body’s water supply is mainly stored in the blood.
What we eat and the condition of our health can redistribute much of that water. For example, if we do not consume enough protein, the structure of arterial walls can become compromised to the extent that water can leak through the walls and invade the surrounding tissue. Edema, or water retention in body tissue, resulting in visible swelling is the medical description.
An adult will normally eliminate 2.5 liters or 84 ounces of water a day. About 60%, or one and a half liters, will be through urine with the rest being eliminated by sweating, respiration or bowel movement. Since our breath is 100% humidified, a significant loss of water occurs during normal breathing and more during rapid breathing as during exercise.
Health conditions have an effect on water loss. Fever and diarrhea are two good examples. If we have a fever, our body temperature goes up and we lose more water. Diarrhea is a big reason for water loss and if severe, can be dangerous.
Water content of Foods
Fruits and vegetables are the two categories highest in water content, averaging between 80-90% water. Milk and yogurt also comes in at 80-90% water. Looking at a few specific fruits and vegetables, fresh carrots have about 88% water, fresh tomatoes about 93% and 94% for fresh celery. Note the keyword “fresh”.
After vegetables are harvested, they tend to steadily lose water content. The highest are watermelon and lettuce, both having a 97% water content. Thus, fruit and vegetables can be a critical factor in our maintenance of both water and health.
When it comes to meat; lean veal has about 80% water and fully fattened beef has about 50%.
As a result; good clean water and healthy fresh foods will easily keep us hydrated.
Does Coffee Count as Water?
I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee lately and it got me wondering if all that coffee counts toward my 8 glasses of water a day.
It turns out that the 8 glasses of water is more of suggested average quantity based on an average person. Everybody is different so our needs are very different as well.
Well, now the experts are saying that coffee is an excellent choice, especially if consumed unsweetened. It is vastly superior to soda and anything containing high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.
So, coffee has water and it counts; fruits and vegetables contain water and they count, even beer counts although drinking eight glasses of beer a day for hydration probably isn’t a good idea.
Coffee was long thought to lower water levels in the body but testing done on 50 men who drank coffee and 50 who drank water showed no difference in their water retention.
Drinking regular coffee in the late evening may interfere with your required eight hours of sleep per night and that is not a good thing. It may also cause one to get up several times during the night to drain the bladder, also not good for your uninterrupted sleep.