a Nutrient Too! Are You Getting Enough?
Water is classified as a nutrient, just like
protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals!
Drinking enough water is one of the most
important things we can do to increase our health, increase our energy, think
more clearly and improve the appearance of our skin.
While most of us know that water is
important, many of us tend to have a difficult time drinking enough. But like
all the other healthy habits, drinking more water takes practice.
How important is it to drink more? Here are
some essential reasons:
- Water is a major component of our blood,
which transports all the other nutrients to our cells. It also transports
toxins and metabolic waste to be removed from our cells.
- Water in our urine and feces carry these
waste products out of the body. One major reason we get constipated is
- Water in sweat dissipates heat through
the skin, which helps our body to maintain internal body temperature (ever hear
of heat stroke?).
- Water plays a vital role in the
transmission of our nervous system's nerve impulses.
- Water helps to dissolve and digest
- Water is involved in the biochemical
reactions in our body to produce and release energy.
- Water in fluids surrounds our joints,
providing lubrication and mobility.
So, now that we can see how important
water is to our body, here are a few more practical things:
- Lack of enough water is the #1 cause of
physical fatigue, especially during exercise, so let's start drinking before
- We are dehydrated before we feel
thirsty, so we should not wait until we are thirsty to drink. Some other
signals that we may be dehydrated are headaches, chills, and mental fatigue (I
call it my foggy feeling).
- Every time we drink coffee, soda, diet
soda, or alcohol, we increase our water need.
- Exercise and warm weather will increase
our water need.
[Editor's note: While it is
important to stay hydrated during exercise, drinking too much water while
you're sweating a lot can lead to a condition called hyponatremia --
dangerously low sodium levels. The relatively rare condition arises when
exercisers who have been sweating a lot drink too much plain water and fail to
replace the sodium they have sweated out. Under very hot conditions, or if you
are a heavy sweater, be sure to take in sodium along with your hydration --
either through salt tablets, foods such as pretzels, or simply a sports drink
- Drinking cool vs. room-temperature water
will quicken the amount of time it takes for water to reach our bloodstream and
- Drinking more water after a high-fat
meal can help decrease our blood's viscosity (thickness), a risk factor for
heart disease (anyone read the study about a higher incidence of heart attacks
after a high-fat meal?).
So now that we know that water is one of
the most important nutrients in our body, and our body uses water for every
function, we might begin practicing little by little to drink more.
Try keeping a small water bottle or cup
of water with you at all times. Who knows, it might become a habit.