Water is essential to the proper function of the human body. Well, you would be surprised just how easily water consumption can be neglected in the hectic routines of our daily lives, thus potentially depriving us of optimum health and performance.

Comprising up to 60 percent of our body, and 70 percent of our muscles, water prevents dehydration; it is essential for cellular homeostasis (keeping cells at a steady state); it regulates the body's temperature control, improves skin appearance, and influences cognitive performance, just to name a few.

So, now that you know some of the benefits of water, let's evaluate your body's daily requirements for water. According to the Mayo Clinic, "The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about nine cups) of total beverages a day." However, the National Institutes of Health has determined that these recommendations should be general guidelines, and that there are too many factors, including age, body weight, and environmental conditions to determine specific recommended daily water intake.

Sean Collins, a urologist (a physician/surgeon who specializes in issues related to the urinary tract in men and women) at East Jefferson General Hospital, states, "water requirement is typically based on an average 70 kg (154 pound) man as a benchmark. If he was in the hospital and could not drink (water), the requirement would be 125 ccs of fluid per hour. ... "for the same inactive man, that would translate to 3 liters of fluid per day."

In regards to a female, Collins says, "for a 50 kg (110 pound) inactive female, that would be 2.2 liters per day." He points out that patients with liver, kidney and heart issues should consult with their physician before they increase their water/fluid intake to high levels.

Still having trouble calculating your water requirement? Then consider using Collins' rule of thumb. "Drink enough fluid per day such that your urine is clear."

According to Collins, we breathe out (insensible perspiration) up to 700 ccs of fluid each day. Depending on your activity and intensity level, you may need to increase your fluid and nutrient intake beyond 60-90 minutes of continuous, somewhat strenuous exercise.

The inclusion of carbohydrates and electrolytes in the form of a sports drink may be necessary to refuel in order to optimize your performance, especially in hot, humid conditions. I have developed a Performance Fuel Guide that will, among other variables, instruct you on how to keep hydrated before, during and after high performance activity. You can download this free guide on my website at: http://www.mackieshilstone.com/performance-fuel-guide/

It's important to remember that water is not only consumed by drinking, but also by eating. All fluids count toward your daily totals, so you can find water rich foods to help achieve adequate intake. For example, food like fruits and vegetables contain higher amounts of water. In fact, they may contain about 80 percent water.

Many people wait until they are thirsty to hydrate themselves. This is actually wrong. Water may take, under certain situations, around 20 minutes to be utilized by the body. You're not doing your body any favors by waiting until you reach a state of dehydration to refuel your needs.

Did you know water could even help you achieve certain weight loss goals? Water contains no calories, so consider replacing fruit juices and sodas that are very high in sugar content with water.

Your kidneys can produce an anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) that can actually cause you to hold water weight. The more water you consume, the more you are likely to release in the form of weight loss. You might be holding onto more water than necessary, simply because of inadequate water consumption.

Think of it like this: if you are one who rarely drinks enough water, your body will do its best to protect itself by storing water. Since the body does not know how often it will be receiving water, it stores it to compensate. Drink more water, and the body releases some of the amount it stores because it is regularly hydrated.

Please remember as Dr. Collins mentioned, speak with your physician before increasing fluid intake, if you suffer from any liver, heart or kidney issues.

Then, drink to your good health.

Mackie Spotlight

EJGH’s very own Mackie Shilstone, Executive Director of the Fitness Principle, is in New York working with Serena Williams as she goes for another U.S. Open title. As Williams’s Fitness Coach, Mackie will be part of the team preparing her for matches throughout the tournament. To give everyone a behind-the-scenes look at how Williams prepares for every opponent, Mackie is writing a daily postcard for Nola.com detailing all the day’s happenings. Check back daily for updates. 

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