Why Is It Important To Stay Hydrated?

Summertime is here and there is no better way to spend it than outdoors. Gardening, outdoor activities or just sitting on the deck are ideal ways to while away the time during retirement.

But it is surprising how quickly dehydration can sneak up when the weather turns warm. Perspiration and respiration are both the primary means of losing water and this happens much faster on hot days or when performing physical activity.

But what exactly is dehydration and why is it so important to stay hydrated?

What Is Dehydration?

Dehydration occurs when the body does not have sufficient water to maintain or regulate normal bodily functions. Dehydration can happen for a number of reasons but are most commonly due to heat, physical activity and not consuming enough fluids.

Why Is It Important To Stay Hydrated?

The body consists of 60% water. Every cell is in the body is made up of around 70% water. When dehydration occurs, these cells start to shrink and cannot perform their tasks as part of the greater systemic functions or homeostasis. When this happens, cells cannot regenerate and start to die.

There are a number of functions that are critically related to hydration and suffer as a result of dehydration:

1. Regulate Body Temperature

The body regulates temperature through perspiration or by sweating. When the body is dehydrated or does not have sufficient water, it becomes more difficult to control body temperature allowing it to rise. Rising temperatures can negatively affect bodily and brain function.

2. Lubrication

Water is the natural lubricant for the body and is critical to easing movement in joints and muscles. Without lubrication, wear and tear on tendons and joints are aggravated resulting in an increased risk of developing arthritis and inhibiting mobility.

3. Electrolyte Imbalance

Electrolytes include essential minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium chloride. When the body sweats in order to regulate body temperature, these minerals or electrolytes are lost. This results in an electrolyte imbalance which in turn results in muscle spasms, cramps, lethargy and headaches.

Water on the other hand is a good source of magnesium and calcium. In fact, most people get the majority if these nutritional requirements from drinking water. Drinking water therefore not only replaces lost water but also the minerals that are essential to maintaining a healthy electrolyte balance.

4. Heart And Lung Health

The heart is made up of 73% water and the lungs a massive 83% water. These two viral organs are likely to take the greatest strain due to dehydration and can result in the development of respiratory and cardiovascular health conditions. Staying well hydrated ensures that the heart and the lungs function optimally and reduces the risk of related health conditions.

5. Delivery And Removal

Water plays and integral role in digestion and aids in the absorption of essential nutrients as well as the removal of waste from the body. Good hydration is key to maintaining good gastrointestinal health and function.

It is recommended that the average adult drink 8 glasses of water a day to stay well hydrated. However, in warmer conditions or when performing physical activity, drinking more water is advisable. Don’t substitute water with other beverages to get the greatest benefit – especially those that contain sugar, caffeine or alcohol.

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