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A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.

Water

Water, like air, is a primary requirement for all living things to survive. It is an omnipresent chemical substance made up of two gases - hydrogen and oxygen. It is interesting to note that the constituents of water are gases; water itself is a liquid at room temperature. It is important to note that water is essential for carrying out each and every life process in our body. Name any process and you will find the essentiality of water in each of them. For instance, water is required for blood circulation, digestion, moving nutrients to all parts of the body and even in the process involving the eradication of waste substances and toxins from our body.

Water provides our body with the essential trace elements and is required in minute quantities for physiological functioning. In addition, water is also responsible for upholding the balance between acid and alkaline contents in our body. Of the total composition of the human body, water constitutes anything between 55 per cent and 75 per cent and hence, there is a constant need for water refill. In fact, slender people contain more amounts of water in their bodies, as our muscles retain more water in comparison to fat. Although it may seem to be incredible, our lungs throw out anything between two and four cups of water daily through normal respiration and this amount could be even more in cold conditions. People whose feet sweat, lose more water, probably one more cup of it. Again, if you visit the toilet for about six times a day, you lose another six cups of water. And in case you sweat considerably, you stand to lose another two cups of water from your body. Remember, this does not include sweating induced by work-outs or exercises.

When a person is said to be dehydrated, it means he or she has lost around 10 per cent of their body weight in fluids, mainly water. However, even losing as little as 2 per cent of the body weight in fluids may have an effect on an individual's athletic feats and result in exhaustion. On the other hand, drinking sufficient amounts of water will help in evading several physical conditions, such as kidney stones, constipation and keep away from colds and flu. In addition, consuming enough water regularly helps to keep the joints well oiled.

Water promotes health

As discussed above, water is not only essential for our wellbeing, but also our survival. On an average, water comprises 60 per cent of our body weight and all the systems in our body depend heavily on water. Not consuming sufficient amount of water regularly may result in dehydration, a physical condition that takes place when one does not have sufficient fluids, especially water, for performing the normal activities of the body. Remember, even slight dehydration caused by losing a small amount of water, for instance 1 per cent to 2 per cent, may possibly drain out your energy and make you feel exhausted. In fact, dehydration is a great health risk to the young as well as the aged and, if severe, may even prove to be fatal. Common symptoms of dehydration are:

Whether it is perceptible or not, you lose a lot of water from your body through perspiration every day. In addition, you also lose body fluids through exhaling, urination as well as bowel movements. Thus, in order to enable your body to carry out its normal functions appropriately, one needs to replenish the lost water by drinking lots of water and beverages as well as foods that enclose water. Many people often ask how much water they precisely need for maintaining a good health. By no means, it is easy to provide a satisfactory answer to this crucial question. In fact, the daily fluid intake of a healthy adult may generally fluctuate considerably. Usually, majority of the people drink water or beverages to satiate their thirst, supply the necessary water requirements or simply owing to their habit. There are a minimum of three methods or approaches that help to gauge the entire fluid or water requirements of a healthy, inactive adults residing in temperate climatic conditions.

Replacement approach
This approach denotes replenishing the amount of water lost from the body during the course of a day. On an average, an adult loses approximately 1.5 liters of water daily through urination. Another liter of water is lost from the body owing to respiration (exhaling), perspiration as well as bowel movements. On the other hand, the foods one usually consumes daily account for 20 per cent of his or her fluid intake. Therefore, if an individual drinks two liters (an amount equivalent to little over eights cups) of water or any other beverage every day alongside his or her normal diet, they are able to successfully replenish the fluids lost from the body daily.
Eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily
This is an alternate approach to replenish the water lost by our body and in this case the water intake is according to the '8X8' rule. In other words, one needs to drink a minimum of eight 8-ounce glasses of water (approximately 1.9 liters) daily. In addition, one may consume any fluids, not necessarily water, since every type of fluids that enter our body is helpful and their total amount counts. Incidentally, this method does not have a scientific base, or is it endorsed scientifically, but many people follow this rule to keep count of the amount of water and other fluids that are essential for the body as well as the amount of fluids they are consuming daily to replenish the fluids lost from the body every day.
Nutritional advices
According to the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine, men should drink about three liters or 13 cups of fluids daily, while the quota for women is 2.2 liters or approximately nine cups to keep themselves in the pink of health. This guideline has been prepared on the basis of national food surveys that assessed the average consumption of fluids by people to keep fit and healthy.

Here it needs to be mentioned that an individual may opt for any of these approaches for fluid consumption in order to measure the amount of fluids that his or her body requires daily. However, if one drinks sufficient water to satiate his or her thirst, produces a colorless or somewhat yellowish normal quantity of urine and feels healthy, it may be said that their present fluid intake is just alright.

Issues influencing water requirements

There are several issues or aspects that may influence you to adjust or change the total amount of fluids you may be consuming currently. In fact, the factors on which your total fluid intake may depend on include the state of your physical activeness, the climatic condition, the state of your health as well as whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Some of these factors are discussed below in brief.

Work-outs
In case you exercise regularly or engage yourself in activities that require physician strain and produces plenty of sweating, it is essential that you consume additional amounts of fluids with a view to make up for the amount of fluids lost from your body owing to these activities. It is advisable to intake two cups of water at least two hours before you undertake any strenuous and enduring activity, such as a marathon or half-marathon. It is also important that you drink one or two cups of water before you undertake shorter exercise sessions. During the course of these activities, take small breaks and drink fluids to make up for the lost fluids from the body owing to such activities. Keep on consuming water or any other fluid even after you have finished the activities. When you are undertaking any severe exercise that may concern considerable sweating, for instance, while taking part in a marathon, sodium content of the body is lost through perspiration and it may necessitate taking some sports drink containing sodium instead of plain water.
Atmospheric conditions
If you are residing in a place which has hot and humid climatic conditions, you need to drink additional amounts of water. Consuming extra amounts of fluids in these conditions will not only help to lower your body temperature, but also make up for the fluid loss through excessive sweating. Similarly, you also need to consume additional amounts of fluids if the climatic conditions are cold and you perspire owing to wearing insulated clothes. Even when the indoor air is heated, it may result in the skin losing sufficient moisture and this, in turn, will again augment the daily fluid intake requisites of an individual. Altitude is also an important factor in deciding the requisite amount of fluid intake. Especially when you are at an altitude of more than 2,500 meters or about 8,200 feet, the water requirement of your body will change automatically. In fact, when people are at a high altitude they urinate more frequently and breathe faster losing much of their body fluids through these processes. Hence, you need to consume additional fluids when you are situated at a very high altitude.
Sickness or medical conditions
There are certain symptoms of sickness like vomiting, diarrhea and fever that may result in your body losing additional fluids, and in order to make up for the lost body fluids, it is essential that you drink extra water or alternately take oral rehydration solutions, such as Gatorade, Powerade or something similar. At times, the loss of body fluids cannot be replenished orally. In such situations one may require intravenous water and electrolytes with a view to instantly replace the amount of lost body fluids. People who have kidney stones or stones in their urinary tract are always advised to drink additional water as this will enable them to urinate normally as well as alleviate the tenderness caused by the presence of the stones inside the body. In contrast, people who are enduring any medical condition that weakens the elimination of water from the body, such as heart failure and several forms of liver, kidney, thyroid and adrenal diseases are advised to lower or restrict the amount of their fluid intake.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers
Pregnant women as well as nursing mothers require extra water to remain hydrated as well as replenish the body fluids lost, particularly owing to breast feeding. According to the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine, women ought to drink 2.3 liters or about 10 cups of water during pregnancy, while women who are breast-feeding should intake 3.1 liters or approximately 13 cups of fluids daily to keep them hydrated as well as healthy.

Numerous resources of water

When we talk of consuming water or other fluids to replenish the loss of body fluids, it does not essentially denote that you need to sip water from a water bottle or drink tumbler-full water throughout the day with a view to fulfill the water requirements of your body. Apart from the water you drink, the diet, including beverages you consume, is able to supply large amounts of your basic fluid requirements. As discussed earlier, in an average adult person's diet, foods provide approximately 20 per cent of the entire fluid intake. The outstanding 80 per cent of the body's fluid requirements is met by all other types of beverages.

Fruits and vegetables
Apart from being excellent resources of the essential vitamins, minerals and fiber, fruits and vegetables also enclose plenty of water. For instance, cucumbers enclose 95 per cent water, while oranges contain as high as 87 per cent water. In addition, other beverages, such as milk and juices contain sufficient amounts of water. On the other hand, nuts, dried fruits, food grains and baked food products usually enclose very less amount of water. Hence, apart from water, you should always fulfill the fluid requirements of your body from different foods and beverages.
Alcohol
In fact, even alcoholic drinks, such as beer and wine, can fulfill some of your body's fluid requirements. In addition, caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee and/ or soda may also contribute in this regard. However, all said and done, water still remains the best fluid you may take to replenish the lost body fluids. Compared to taking alcoholic drinks or other beverages, there are several advantages of drinking water. While water is always easily available at home and outside, it is inexpensive too. Other benefits of drinking water include the fact that it does not add up to your calories and is eliminated from the body more easily.

Don't measure your water needs by thirst

Normally, people who are in the pink of their health and are not enduring drying out conditions, utilize thirst or the craving for liquids as a pointer for drinking water. However, it is important to note that this process is not always correct, as thirst cannot be used as an appropriate measure to understand the fluid requirements of your body. In other words, thirst always does not signify that your body requires fluid refills. Although it may appear to be amazing, the fact is that the older one grows, the lesser he or she feels that they are actually thirsty. What is worse is that when you are undertaking any strenuous activity there is a possibility that your body may lose considerable amounts of fluids even before you realize that you are thirsty. In such cases, an individual may collapse owing to extreme dehydration and, at times, this may even prove to be fatal. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that you remain adequately hydrated before, during as well as at the end of any strenuous activity, such as vigorous work-outs.

It may be noted here that when an individual experiences augmented thirst as well as urination, both in terms of volume as well as frequency, it may be very well considered as symptoms of diabetic conditions. When you develop diabetes, you have a surplus of blood sugar or glucose in your body and it pulls in water from the tissues giving rise to a feeling of dehydration. In order to satiate your thirst, you consume plenty of water and other drinks, which, in turn, results in more amount and frequency of urination. Therefore, if you ever experience inexplicable augmentation in your thirst and urination, visit your physician to find out if you have developed diabetes. In fact, increased thirst and urination does not always mean that you are enduring diabetic conditions, as it may mean something different too. Actually, there are numerous people who experience increased thirst as well as urination without being affected by any disease or medical conditions.

In any case, always make a deliberate endeavor to maintain the fluid level of your body and, hence, remain hydrated. In addition, it would be really great if you made water your preferred drink. In order to remain healthy and hydrated, all adults may mull over the following guidelines:

  • It is essential to drink a full glass of water during every meal as well as between all meals. It is always better to adopt a practice of taking a water break instead of the regular tea or coffee breaks. If you can, try to replace alcoholic drinks with gleaming water at social functions.is required
  • In case you drink water from a particular bottle, remember to clean the bottle meticulously and also change the bottle at regular and frequent intervals. This is essential because each time you drink water from the bottle, bacteria from your mouth infects the water in the bottle. Moreover, in case you use a bottle repetitively, ensure that the bottle has been manufactured for reuse. In order to maintain the cleanliness of the bottle, you should wash it with soap in hot water or clean it in a dishwasher before filling it with water again.
  • Although it may appear to be unusual, it is always possible to drink plenty of water. At times, consuming extreme amounts of water may possibly overcome the ability of your kidneys to get rid of the surplus and waste water from the body. When the kidneys fail to function properly and get rid of the waste water from the body, it may result in a condition called hyponatremia. When an individual develops hyponatremia, the excessive consumption of water will attenuate the regular amount of sodium in the bloodstream. Especially, elderly people enduring certain medical conditions like congestive heart failure and cirrhosis or people using particular types of diuretics face a greater peril of developing hyponatremia.

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