Thursday, March 6, 2008

Staying Hydrated

By Courtney Westlake


For maximum benefit, the human body needs to be well hydrated each day. While beverages such as juices or sodas can provide fluids for the body, the best choice is water.

“The body is made up of 60 to 70 percent water,” said Amanda Jillson, assistant director of fitness and instructional programs at the TRAC. “Your body is continually losing fluid, so we need to replenish that.”

Muscle itself is made up of 70 to 75 percent water, so for those that have a lot of muscle on the body, make sure to always remain very hydrated, Jillson recommended.

“Water also helps with healthy skin, hair and your general wellbeing,” she said. “You'll really start to feel better if you stay hydrated. It’s amazing what it can do for you.”

While dehydration most often occurs during the hot and humid summer months, it can also happen during the wintertime.

Symptoms of dehydration include weakness or fatigue, dry skin, dry mouth, darker-colored urine and, most obvious, thirst. When you start to feel dehydrated, it is extremely important to consume water or drinks like Gatorade, Powerade or even Pedialyte to replenish the body’s electrolytes needed for hydration.

Water is the best choice of liquids because it has no calories, no additives and usually nothing you might have to worry about ingesting into your body, unlike soda, sports drinks and other beverages, which have additives and sugars, Jillson said. There is room for drinks like soda or alcoholic beverages within a healthy lifestyle, but in moderation.

Alcoholic drinks can contain seven to eight calories per gram, which is more calories than the same amount of carbohydrates or protein, so you’re drinking more calories than you would be taking in by eating.

Even drinks such as the calorie-free diet soda still need to be consumed in moderation, especially because of the artificial sweeteners, for which there isn’t much research about the effect on the body, Jillson said.

“If you’re really conscious about staying healthy and working out, make sure to drink more water than other drinks,” Jillson said. “The average person needs to get eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. Someone who works out a little harder or loses fluid more regularly needs to consume at least 10 eight-0unce glasses of water a day. So you should be getting between 64 and 80 ounces of water daily.”