While riders in the Tour de France drink, on average, 6.7 liters of fluid a day, including sports/energy drinks, water and juice, survivalists say as long as we’re not competing in a similar endurance sport, we can survive without water for about three days.
That’s not to say we should test the experiment, since going without H²O for too long starts painfully, and ends in death. (Ref. 1)
Our bodies are made up of about 75 percent water, and we need it for virtually every function, including thought.
And if you need one good reason to drink more water, research has shown that those who drink two glasses of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner are better able to lose weight and keep it off, as long as they stick with the healthy habit. (Ref. 2)
Why water is so important
But whether you prefer your water lukewarm or cold, the liquid is as important as oxygen when it comes to keeping our bodies working well.
Of all that we take into our bodies, it’s humble water that works the hardest.
It cushions our joints, helps us eliminate waste, allows our bodies to absorb vitamins and minerals and then works nonstop delivering those nutrients to our cells and organs.
Dehydration is more common than we think
While most of us believe that dehydration is reserved for guys working outside during a summer heatwave or endurance athletes, most of us are already mildly dehydrated, without having any idea.
“We have a tendency in the U.S. to drink a lot of beverages that are mildly dehydrating,” said Mary Grace Webb, Assistant Director for Clinical Nutrition at New York Hospital, in an interview with CBS News. (Ref. 3)
We tend, however, to think of that thirst as hunger, so we treat it the wrong way.
“Because the human body is so unique, it will say ‘I want water’ in food, in any way, shape or form,” Webb said. “People just think that when they start to get a little weak or they have a headache, they need to eat something, but most often they need to drink.”
What happens when we don’t drink enough
Given that we lose water every day – about 10 cups - through our breath, through perspiration and through bodily functions, it’s important to replenish that lost water to ensure that your body functions properly.
When we don’t get enough of it, we increase our risk of a host of health problems, including a slower metabolism that can trigger weight gain, along with headaches and fatigue.
Other problems associated with dehydration include:
High blood pressure. Our blood is made up of about 92 percent water, and when levels are low, the blood becomes thicker, and requires the heart to do more work to pump it through our body. (Ref. 2)
High cholesterol. When we’re dehydrated, our bodies produce more cholesterol to ensure that the membranes of the cells don’t become dry due to lack of water.
Skin problems. When we don’t drink enough water, we can’t flush toxins through our skin, so they build up, putting skin at risk of disorders including dermatitis, psoriasis, premature aging and discoloration.
Fatigue. One of the main reasons you feel exhausted partway through a workout is that you didn’t take in enough water at the start. When we’re dehydrated, our body’s enzymatic processes slow to a crawl, leaving us feeling exhausted.
Joint stiffness and pain. The cartilage that cushions our joints is made up mostly of water, and when we don’t get enough, cartilage may become weakened and thin, triggering pain.
Digestive woes. Constipation, ulcers, acid reflux and gastritis are all linked to lack of water.
Kidney and bladder problems. When we don’t drink enough water, we can’t flush out toxins, so they build up in the kidney and bladder, creating an environment where bacteria can thrive.
So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult need for optimum health? According to the Institute of Medicine, the adequate intake for men is 3 liters of water per day, while for women, the optimum is 2.2 liters per day. (Ref. 4)
If you have a hard time drinking enough water, take a cue from Xtend-Life founder Warren Matthews, and drink a glass of warm water first thing in the morning to set the stage for a day of healthy hydration.
And if you have trouble drinking enough water throughout the day, consider making your own flavored waters to add a bit of excitement to a simple glass.
Some add-ins to consider include lemon and lime slices, orange wedges, chunks of fresh watermelon or pineapple, cucumber slices, herbs including mint, rosemary or stevia or freshly grated ginger.
Add zip with Zupafood
And to really fire up your water, try our new Zupafood collection, contain natural flavorings that come from real apples, blueberries and mangos, the supplements are packed with feel-good nutrients including kiwifruit, grape seed extract, wheatgrass, green tea extract and spirulina, an algae that NASA astronauts predicted in the 1970s would be the next big super food.
I also highly recommend this simple watermelon and coconut water blend created by Madelynn, one of our Online Nutritionists in our Customer Relations team, find this recipe here.