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Health & Fitness: Water and the Body

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By Kim Duke, NETA & AAFA Certified Trainer

One of the strangest things I hear during fitness assessments is the admission that many of my new clients do not drink water.  Their reasons range from odd to insane—they do not like the taste, they just don’t think about it, and, the most bizarre, it makes them need to use the bathroom.

What I explain to these clients is that life cannot exist without water.  Water can be a miracle cure for many common ailments, such as headaches, fatigue, joint pain, muscle cramps and much more.  We can go weeks without food, but only three days without water.

According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73 percent water, and the lungs are about 83 percent water. The skin contains 64 percent water, muscles and kidneys are 79 percent, and even the bones are watery at 31 percent.

Water plays a vital role in nearly every bodily function.  Lack of water is the number-one trigger of daytime fatigue.  A mere 2 percent drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or printed page.

Consistent failure to drink enough water can lead to Chronic Cellular Dehydration.  This condition leaves the body in a weakened state, vulnerable to attack from disease.

It is difficult to get water from any other source than water itself.  Soft drinks and alcohol steal tremendous amounts of water from the body.  Other beverages, such as coffee and tea, are diuretics, therefore stealing precious water from the body.

Water also transports and metabolizes.  It is essential for proper digestion, nutrient absorption and chemical reactions. According to Clark Bartram, ISSA Master trainer, the carbohydrates and proteins that our bodies use as food are metabolized and transported by water in the bloodstream.  No less important is the ability of water to transport waste material out of our bodies.

The benefits to keeping our bodies hydrated with water do not stop there.  When the body is well hydrated, there is more oxygen in the bloodstream.  The more oxygen the body has readily available, the more fat it will burn for energy.

Water also suppresses appetite naturally and helps the body metabolize stored fat.  Studies have shown that a decrease in water intake will cause fat deposits to increase, while an increase in water intake can actually reduce fat deposits and unsightly cellulite as well.

Often times, our thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger. In a University of Washington study of dieters, one glass of water shut down hunger pangs for almost 100 percent of the dieters.

Water is also the body’s best cooling source.  Sports drinks are useful when consumed after or during vigorous or prolonged exercise in high heat.  But, most experts will agree that water works better than carbohydrates or sugary beverages for moderate exercise.

So, if you are not thirsty for a large glass of delicious water after reading this article, I can only assume you are a rock and not a human being!  However, if you are ready to grab a glass or two, here is the general rule as to how much is enough:  We need to drink half of our body weight in ounces of water every day to provide the body with the MINIMUM water replacement requirements.  Triple the intake for better results.

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