WATER: Your Body’s Most Important Nutrient!

We all know we’re supposed to drink plenty of pure, clean water, but do we know why?

Water is your body's most important nutrient. It makes up approximately 70-75% of your total body weight and is involved in every bodily function. Drinking adequate amounts of water helps to maintain body temperature, metabolize body fat, aids in digestion, lubricates and cushions joints and organs, transports nutrients, and flushes toxins from the body. There have been questions raised as to how much water we really need to stay healthy. The National Academy of Sciences originally issued guidelines for consumption in 1989, but recently put together a panel of experts to take a second look at how much water is appropriate. The formula that had been used for determining this requirement was based on how many calories a person normally expends each day. It is generally accepted that we should try to consume at least 64 ounces (half gallon) of water per day, and if you exercise or are overweight, even more.

What happens to the body as it becomes dehydrated?

Blood is approximately 90% water and is responsible for taking nutrients and energy to muscles and for taking waste from tissues. If you are not getting enough water, your body will react by pulling it from other places, including your blood. This causes the closing of some smaller vessels (capillaries), making your blood thicker, more susceptible to clotting, and harder to pump through your system. This can have serious implications in hypertension, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Recent studies have also linked the lack of water to headaches, arthritis, back pain and heartburn.

Have you have ever gotten up in the morning feeling bloated, or tried on a ring or shoe that fit yesterday but is too tight to wear today? Chances are your body is trying to tell you something. If you have a problem with water retention, excess salt may be the cause. Your body will tolerate a certain amount of sodium, however, the more salt you consume over and above what your body needs to be healthy, the more fluid you need to dilute it. To overcome this problem, always drink plenty of water.

Did you know that being dehydrated promotes the increase of body fat?

Water contributes to energy storage along with glycogen. Without water, extra amounts of glucose remain in the bloodstream until reaching the liver, the extra glucose is stored as fat. Your body takes water from inside cells in an effort to compensate for a dehydrated state, including fat cells. Less water in your fat cells means less mobilization of fat for energy. One of the liver's primary functions is to metabolize stored fat into energy. The kidneys are responsible for filtering toxins, wastes, ingested water, and salts out of the bloodstream. If you are dehydrated, the kidneys cannot function properly, and the liver must work overtime to compensate. As a result, it metabolizes less fat. Luckily, water is a great natural appetite suppressant.

There are three ways we get water into our bodies. We get it from the foods we eat, the fluids we drink, and as a by-product of metabolism. It is always better to drink pure water instead of soda, tea, or coffee, which can actually increase your need for fluids because most contain caffeine, which is a diuretic.

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