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If you, like most people, have asked yourself, your parents, your friends or a health professional how many glasses of water you need to drink per day, you are in the right place. We hear so many different numbers for the amount of water and liquids we need to drink. Sometimes it’s 6-8 glasses/day, sometimes coffee isn’t considered a liquid, and sometimes the advice is just plain wrong.
Our bodies are mostly made up of water, up to about 60%. Every system in our bodies depends on it: skin, hair, nails, heart, brain, kidneys, etc. Think of your body as a car. If it overheats, it breaks down. Similar with our bodies, if it overheats due to inadequate fluid intake, it slowly “breaks down”. Water and other liquids help to regulate body temperature and blood pressure, prevents kidney stones and constipation, and can delay afternoon fatigue. Without enough of it, you become tired, sluggish, weak and dizzy, get headaches and may even faint.
Drinking water can also help you lose weight! There are two main reasons for this. The first, we sometimes confuse thirst and hunger. So the next time you reach for your afternoon snack, reach for your water bottle first. The second reason is that liquids fill us up as they take space in our stomach, leaving a little less room for other foods.
It is important to drink enough water before, during, and after a physical activity. Since our fluids help transport oxygen and nutrients to our organs and muscles, being in a state of moderate dehydration can cause our muscles to lack proper nutrients. This in turn can lead to muscle pain and fatigue, and make them prone to tears and other injuries.
Drinking before and during an activity also prevents dehydration caused by the sweating. Dehydration can impair mental and physical performance. But do not use thirst to dictate when you should drink as we don’t perceive it as well during an intense activity!