Monday, April 11, 2011

The importance of hydration

Did you know water makes up over a half of your body weight? That is why it is so important to make sure you are staying hydrated throughout the day.

“We hear different rules about how much water to drink. Some people say drink 8 glasses, some people say drink half your body weight in ounces of water a day. Both are good rules to follow,” said Trent Tangen, assistant director of Fitness and Wellness for Recreational Sports.

He says the easiest way to know whether you are drinking enough water is to look at your urine color. It should be a light yellow or clear. Tangen says you should drink more water on hot days and more before, after, and during exercise. People who drink coffee, tea, and soda also need to drink more water because they can dehydrate your body.

“One concern with dehydration is that once you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. It’s too late. You need to make sure you drink enough water throughout the day, so you don’t actually feel thirsty,” said Tangen.

Symptoms of dehydration include headaches, fatigue, weight gain, joint pain, depression, low back pain, stress, constipation, heartburn, hypertension, sleep disorders, premature aging, and urinary tract infections.

Tangen recommends buying a BPA-free water bottle that you can refill and purchasing a water filter for your home tap. Chemicals can leach into your water from plastic water bottles that are not BPA-free when left in a hot car, reused daily, or frozen. For this reason, you should not reuse water bottles that are not marked BPA-free.

“The truth is a lot of bottled water is simply tap water, so if you’re going to buy bottled water you should do your research and see where it’s bottled from,” said Tangen.

In 2008, Americans spent about 11 billion dollars on bottled water, which is also bad for the environment. The world uses about 1.5 million tons of plastic each year, most of which will end up in a landfill. The U.S. alone uses 1.5 million barrels of oil to create plastic water bottles every year.

Sports drinks, water advertised for weight loss, flavored water, and water advertised with added vitamins and minerals are often promoted as healthy.

“The truth is they probably aren’t worth the money. Just drinking plain water is the healthiest thing you can do because water detoxifies your body,” said Tangen. “Sports drinks have their time and place, but for everyday activities they are not needed.”

Tangen says sports drinks often have extra calories and have a lot of man-made ingredients and chemicals in them, which your body does not need.

“If your goals are to lose weight, have healthy skin, and increase your energy, the best thing you can do is drink water to say well hydrated,” said Tangen.



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