When it comes to stay­ing hy­drated, how much is re­ally enough? BY EMILY A. KANE, ND, LAc

Better Nutrition - - NEWS -

Waterworks Go beyond the clichéd ( and of­ten wrong) eight 8- oz. glasses and find out how much wa­ter you re­ally need for op­ti­mum health.

Qa:Is it true that ev­ery­one needs to drink eight 8- oz. glasses of wa­ter daily? — Gwyneth H., Or­lando, Fla. Ac­tu­ally, that’s a pop­u­lar mis­con­cep­tion. Some peo­ple are more ac­tive and need more wa­ter. Some need less. Your body is de­signed to let you know— de­spite all the ad­vice you see from “ex­perts,” thirst is still your best guide for how much wa­ter to drink daily.

That said, many of us do not drink enough wa­ter to stay hy­drated, partly be­cause we have so many other op­tions. And a Diet Pepsi is of­ten less ex­pen­sive to buy than wa­ter, which is crazy!

Why We Need It

Healthy bod­ies con­tain 10– 12 gal­lons of wa­ter, which is 50– 70 per­cent of our body weight. Blood is 85 per­cent wa­ter; mus­cles av­er­age about 80 per­cent wa­ter; and the brain clocks in at 75 per­cent wa­ter. Even our bones are 25 per­cent wa­ter.

Be­sides its con­tri­bu­tions to cir­cu­la­tion and detox­ifi cation, wa­ter plays many key roles in the body, in­clud­ing help­ing pro­teins to fold ( from amino acid chains into their func­tional struc­tures), help­ing to make en­zymes ( the cat­a­lysts for all bio­chem­i­cal re­ac­tions), and help­ing our cells re­spond to en­vi­ron­men­tal stim­uli. With­out enough H O, none of these sys­tems can be healthy. Low wa­ter in­take in­creases risk for kid­ney stones, blad­der and colon can­cers, and other health is­sues.

Hy­dra­tion Strate­gies

So, how much wa­ter is enough to drink? Again, let thirst be your guide. Con­trary to pop­u­lar myth, you won’t be­come de­hy­drated be­fore your thirst mech­a­nism kicks in. Some peo­ple, how­ever, con­fuse thirst for hunger, so be­ware that urge to start snack­ing. Try a nice, cold glass of wa­ter in­stead.

In fact, I strongly rec­om­mend drink­ing a big glass of wa­ter fi rst thing in the morn­ing to “open” the sense of thirst. Don’t chug wa­ter dur­ing meals, when you want the full, undi­luted force of di­ges­tive en­zymes work­ing to break down food. If your urine is darker than pale yel­low, you may need more wa­ter, al­though it’s nor­mal for the fi rst morn­ing urine to be a bit darker and smellier. And vi­ta­min B ( ri­bofl avin) will make the urine a bright yel­low color for a while af­ter you take it.

Avoid­ing De­hy­dra­tion

Cer­tain ac­tiv­i­ties are re­li­ably de­hy­drat­ing, in­clud­ing en­gag­ing in stren­u­ous ex­er­cise ( a great time to drink ex­tra wa­ter), trav­el­ling by air­plane, and eat­ing dry or pro­cessed foods. The com­bi­na­tion of el­e­va­tion and high speed is ex­tremely de­hy­drat­ing while fl ying. Dried foods re­quire wa­ter to be prop­erly di­gested, and I don’t rec­om­mend eat­ing them when there are other op­tions. If you like to travel with dried food, try to re­hy­drate it in wa­ter for 10– 12 hours overnight be­fore con­sum­ing. Rice cakes and jerky also de­mand more wa­ter in­take, so fac­tor that in if you en­joy these snacks. The ban on wa­ter at air­port se­cu­rity check­points poses a chal­lenge, but many air­ports now have wa­ter- bot­tle refi lling sta­tions that you can take advantage of af­ter you pass through se­cu­rity. This is a bet­ter op­tion than buy­ing wa­ter ( or any other con­sum­able) that has been stored in plas­tic. Hot bev­er­ages in plas­tic ( Sty­ro­foam is the worst) are es­pe­cially nox­ious be­cause heat ( and freez­ing) will break down the petro­chem­i­cals in the plas­tic, which will then be ab­sorbed into your tis­sues. Do you have a ques­tion for Dr. Kane? Email it to ed­i­to­rial@ bet­ter­nu­tri­tion. com with “Ask the ND” in the sub­ject line.

Emily A. Kane, ND, LAc, has a pri­vate natur­o­pathic prac­tice in Juneau, Alaska, where she lives with her hus­band and daugh­ter. She is the au­thor of two books on nat­u­ral health, in­clud­ing Man­ag­ing Menopause Nat­u­rally. Visit her on­line at dremi­lykane. com.

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