We think of proper hydration mainly in the hot summer months and when we are exercising, but the fact is, we all need to be aware of the health benefits of hydration even when we are at home under quarantine. Many experts say the key to our body's natural disease-fighting defense starts with hydration since, if you are not getting enough water, every system in your body is affected.
One report states a full 75% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration and that can be deadly. According to the Rehydration Project, a non-profit organization, severe dehydration can cause death.
"Over time, failure to drink enough water can contribute to a wide array of medical complications such as fatigue, joint pain, weight gain, headaches, ulcers, high blood pressure and heart disease," says board certified internist Dr. Blanca Lizaola-Mayo. "During a normal day, we lose about two quarts of water just through breathing, sweat, and other bodily functions. Even while asleep, we can lose over two pounds of water weight not just through sweating, but respiration as well." Even air conditioning contributes to dehydration, she says.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the amount of water you need depends on age, gender, activity level, and overall health. For women, the average amount of total water needed is about 11 cups daily, while for men, it is 15 cups. Experts note we get about 20% of the fluids we need daily from food sources.
The Mayo Clinic says dehydration can occur from two simple reasons: you do not drink enough because you are sick or busy, or because you lack access to safe drinking water during a camping trip or while traveling.
Avoid drinking too much alcohol, tea, sodas, and coffee, says the Cleveland Clinic.
"These fluids tend to pull water from the body and promote dehydration," say the experts. "Fruit juice and fruit drinks may have too many carbohydrates, too little sodium, and may upset the stomach.
The benefits of staying properly hydrated include maximized athletic performance, improved digestion and mood, according to Healthline. Signs of dehydration are low blood pressure, fainting, muscle contractions in the arms, legs and body and even heart failure.
Water is usually all you need to stay hydrated, says the Cleveland Clinic. But if you are an avid exerciser or plan to be out in the sun for a prolonged period of time, try a sports drink which replaces not only the fluid in your body but also electrolytes like sodium and potassium which are lost though perspiration.
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