Monday, July 23, 2012

The Med Beat: Raise Your Glass

Raise Your Glass:
How & Why to Become a Water Addict
Kurtis Morrish

It’s not just water under the bridge!
We all know that water is important to drink, at least sometimes, but why? What does water actually do for us?

Shockingly, more than half of your body mass is water (on average 56% for women, 59% for men), and yet the human body neither produces nor stores water (for the long-term), leaving us one option to stay healthy: drink it!

The body uses the water molecules you drink in hundreds of ways to run and keep healthy, and some of the most essential are: water allows your metabolism to run, it is present in every one of your cells, it facilitates hormone regulation throughout your body, it moves the "good stuff" (nutrients) and gets rid of the "bad stuff" (toxins and waste). Speaking of nutrients, what do you think of when you see that word? Most of us think of vitamins, protein, carbs, certain fats, but does anyone think of water as a nutrient? Perhaps a weird thought, but water is technically a nutrient, and an important one at that.

Our bodies do recycle a fair bit of water, but we still lose water during the day and night through digestion, breathing, and sweating. Ever wake up with a mild case of nausea and perhaps a slight headache? Chances are you are waking up dehydrated. You don’t need to sleep in boiling hot weather or wake up with a hangover in order to be dehydrated when you get up in the morning, it just happens while you sleep...

The problem with dehydration is that the easiest way to notice it is by feeling thirsty, but by the time your mouth feels dry and your mind starts to visualize cascading waterfalls pouring cold, clear water into your mouth, your body is already operating with a lot less water than it requires to work at full potential. The single most common reason that
people feel mildly ill, tired, or have a headache during the day is because they are dehydrated to some degree!

Now many of you are conscious of your hydration, keeping an eye on it throughout the day and drinking plenty of water, but most of us, myself included, do not drink nearly enough water to replace what we lose in a given day’s activities... The answer is easy right? Drink more water

But how much water?

There are studies and advice of all kinds dictating that each person should consume some highly specific amount of water in a day, but ultimately its up to you (and your body). For those who need to see numbers, the general consensus is that you should be drinking 2 to 2.5 L of water a day-- but don’t get too hung up on these recommendations. Listen to yourself, be conscious of what your body is telling you it
needs, and try to keep it happy. Even though we all need water, each of us uses water at different rates, amounts, and ways, so it’s up to you to decide how much you need to feel good and keep healthy.

To wrap this up, here’s a short list of some of the ways that staying properly hydrated helps you keep healthy:

reduces risk of breast and colon cancer as well as urinary tract infections
reduces fatigue, as well as muscle and joint soreness
improves your skin by keeping cells looking healthy
enables your metabolism to work normally (and has been pointed to as the
number one thing you can do to help you stay fit that people don’t do
enough of, whether they are exercising or not)
helps with digestion
increases energy levels!

For those of you concerned with what you put into your body, remember: water has no carbs, no fats, no sugar, no dairy, its just water, so drink up!

The most important things to remember in staying hydrated are (1) staying consistent with water intake through the day, and (2) drinking an amount of water appropriate for your body and lifestyle (even though it's good to always have a little more water than we think we need, it is also possible
to drink TOO MUCH water, but this is rare and typically occurs in extreme circumstances).

It may not seem obvious, but a couple extra glasses of water might be what you need to spice up your life... Cheers!


“Water Physiology: Essentiality, Metabolism, and Health Implications” by
Kavouras, S. A., Anastasiou, C. A. Nutrition Today: November/December
2010. Vol. 45 (6). pp S27-S32.

Medical Section Columnist, Kurtis Morrish:

My name is Kurtis Morrish. I graduated from Cal last year as an Integrative Biology major. I am now in the process of applying to medical school in the hopes of one day serving people as a family doctor. By no means do I write to you as an M.D., but I have extensive experience doing all kinds of scientific research; boiling-down long, dry, mumbo-jumbo-dense medical journals into a reduction that is a little sweeter, useful, and hopefully informative for you. I hope to learn as much from my writing as you do, so please hit me up with further questions, concerns, or comments!

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