Healthy Husky: Hydration nation
Published: Friday, September 6, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 6, 2013 01:09
It is widely known that over two-thirds of your body is water; most of us like to keep it that way. In fact, if you can’t, it quickly becomes fatal. We all at some point have heard of the need to stay hydrated, most likely from a sport coach or an over concerned parent. However, what does staying hydrated really mean and why is it so important? These two questions prove difficult for most to answer, simply because the answers are so individually biased.
The spoiler alert and disclaimer to this column both today and throughout the year is that any type of health recommendation is dependent on the person and circumstances. Hydration definitely falls within this realm, but the benefits of hydration are widespread. Presented below are some simple methods to improve and monitor your hydration that can lead to marked changes in your health.
Optimal hydration is hard to define, especially if you try to put a number value on it. Essentially, it boils down to the balance of fluid that your body uses in comparison to what you consume. The equilibrium of these two sides of the “hydration equation” relies on a near constant supply of fluid as your body works 24/7 using your body’s fluid.
Perhaps the most widespread myth in hydration is the dogma that you should drink 8 glasses of water a day. The fact is this number has no logical or scientific basis. There is no correct amount for all people; in fact the amount for each person may change on a daily basis. While this may seek to muddle the problem it actually makes things easier, because your body is well equipped to detect when you need more water, principally through thirst. During everyday life your thirst can be a good indication of when you need to drink. (The only caveat to this is when you are exercising and thirst does not align well with fluid needs.) Listening to your body’s thirst coupled with the quick check described below can lead to better hydration by anticipating your needs.
Believe it or not, the easiest way to quickly check your hydration is through your urine. While this may seem unpalatable, simply observing the color can provide more than enough information. When your body has less of a need for fluid it will dilute your urine (make it lighter in color). In simple terms your urine should look more like lemonade and less like apple juice.
In a broad sense hydration is good; all the chemical reactions, ranging from what you need to digest food to what you need to see depend on water. In a more myopic sense I have listed below some of the known benefits of hydration albeit with differing levels of evidence.
Some evidence has shown that adequate hydration can lead to healthier looking skin. Some have even gone so far to use the term radiant.
While few of you likely think about this, continuous adequate hydration is key for kidney and urinary tract health. By constantly flushing out your system you can help prevent many diseases that affect these areas.
Adequate hydration has been shown to improve power, strength and endurance when compared to a dehydrated state.
Proper hydration can help you think. Not only does a gnawing thirst occupy your mind, even more mild levels of dehydration can affect how you solve problems and perform in classes.
Water can also improve your mood. In fact one of the first changes that occurs in your body when you are dehydrated is a depression of your mood. Many people report becoming more irritable when they are dehydrated.
As with anything, too much of a good thing can quickly turn for the worse. Water intoxication (usually through forced water intake), albeit rare, can have fatal consequences. Working within this confines of common sense, seeking to improve your hydration habits is a very easy way to improve your over all health. Even small changes like keeping a water bottle with you (and using it) can help over time.