Water is a nutrient too! Are you getting enough?

Water is classified as a nutrient, just like protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals!

Drinking enough water is one of the most important things we can do to increase our health, increase our energy, think more clearly and improve the appearance of our skin.

While most of us know that water is important, many of us tend to have a difficult time drinking enough. But like all the other healthy habits, drinking more water takes practice.

How important is it to drink more? Here are some essential reasons:

  • Water is a major component of our blood, which transports all the other nutrients to our cells. It also transports toxins and metabolic waste to be removed from our cells.

  • Water in our urine and feces carry these waste products out of the body. One major reason we get constipated is dehydration.

  • Water in sweat dissipates heat through the skin, which helps our body to maintain internal body temperature (ever hear of heat stroke?).

  • Water plays a vital role in the transmission of our nervous system's nerve impulses.

  • Water helps to dissolve and digest nutrients.

  • Water is involved in the biochemical reactions in our body to produce and release energy.

  • Water in fluids surrounds our joints, providing lubrication and mobility.

    So, now that we can see how important water is to our body, here are a few more practical things:

  • Lack of enough water is the #1 cause of physical fatigue, especially during exercise, so let's start drinking before exercise.

  • We are dehydrated before we feel thirsty, so we should not wait until we are thirsty to drink. Some other signals that we may be dehydrated are headaches, chills, and mental fatigue (I call it my foggy feeling).

  • Every time we drink coffee, soda, diet soda, or alcohol, we increase our water need.

  • Exercise and warm weather will increase our water need.

    [Editor's note: While it is important to stay hydrated during exercise, drinking too much water while you're sweating a lot can lead to a condition called hyponatremia -- dangerously low sodium levels. The relatively rare condition arises when exercisers who have been sweating a lot drink too much plain water and fail to replace the sodium they have sweated out. Under very hot conditions, or if you are a heavy sweater, be sure to take in sodium along with your hydration -- either through salt tablets, foods such as pretzels, or simply a sports drink containing sodium.]

  • Drinking cool vs. room-temperature water will quicken the amount of time it takes for water to reach our bloodstream and cells.

  • Drinking more water after a high-fat meal can help decrease our blood's viscosity (thickness), a risk factor for heart disease (anyone read the study about a higher incidence of heart attacks after a high-fat meal?).

    So now that we know that water is one of the most important nutrients in our body, and our body uses water for every function, we might begin practicing little by little to drink more.

    Try keeping a small water bottle or cup of water with you at all times. Who knows, it might become a habit.

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