Water - Nutrient that beats the heat
When it comes to planning a diet, water is the most essential nutrient. But most of the times it is often taken for granted. Dehydration, acidity, loss of energy are common problems that often occur due to insufficient water consumption, especially in summer. As each cell of the body needs water to nourish it, one can live without food much longer than without water.
Optimum water intake is a must as water performs several functions in the body.
Water helps to flush out toxins and waste products from the body. It cleanses the system. If our body lacks water then the heart has to make an extra effort to pump fresh oxygenated blood to the organs causing health issues.
2. Neutralizer of Acids
Water is the solution to acidity, heart burn, lethargy and headaches. Most of the cereal grains such as wheat and maize, pulses, sugar and fat are acidic in nature. Fruits and vegetables are alkaline. Acidic foods form the major part of most diet plans in many places in the world. High amounts of acidic residues in the body can cause fat gain, pains, arthritis, low stamina, poor digestion. Water being alkaline in nature is the only boon (neutraliser) which can save us from the long term harmful effects of acid producing foods. Dehydration is also one of the most common causes of headaches.
3. Tonic for the Skin
Water is a perfect replacement for all the expensive anti-aging treatments. It moisturizes the skin and keeps it fresh and glistening. In addition, it helps maintain the elasticity and suppleness of the skin and prevents dryness, maintaining body temperature in different seasons.
4. Body Temperature Regulator
Water carries heat away from the internal organs in order to prevent any serious damage. This allows cooling off, maintaining a safe body temperature for optimal functioning of internal organs thereby promoting good health.
5. Regulator of Metabolic Functions
Daily water intake must be balanced with losses to maintain the total body water. Losing body water can adversely affect body’s functioning and health. Once one starts feeling thirsty, the person has probably lost about 1 per cent of the body water and is already dehydrated to a certain extent.
How much Water do we need to Drink?
The water requirements of an adult vary. Thirst and the color of urine tell us how much water we should drink. Depending only on thirst, would not be sufficient. A little more water intake is always better. The color of urine is the most helpful guide. If we drink enough water to ensure that urine is pale or colourless rather than yellow, then the water intake is more than “just enough”, and that is desirable.
Drinking a little more water than is strictly necessary is in the interest and benefit of our kidneys. The kidneys are so designed that if we drink less water, they concentrate the urine, with the result that the urine colour is deep yellow. On the other hand if we drink more water, the same waste products are thrown out by the kidneys in a larger volume of water. The result is dilute, pale or colorless urine. Dilute urine is safe urine. It prevents kidney stones and infections.
Summer Hydration Tips
As summer temperatures hit a high, here are a few important tips that will help you beat the heat
1. Drinking enough water to prevent thirst.
2. Monitoring fluid loss by checking the color of urine.
3. For low-to-moderate-intensity activity, water should be had before, during and after exercise.
4. Exercise in extreme heat or for more than one hour should be supplemented with a sports drink or an electrolyte solution that contains electrolytes and 6 percent to 8 percent carbohydrates. This prevents " hyponatremia " (low blood sodium), which dilutes the blood and could also lead to serious impairment and death.
5. Increase the intake of all fluids like juices, milk and soups (though excluding alcohol, which is extremely dehydrating).
6. Eat at least five serves of fruits and vegetables per day, as they all contain various levels of water and the all-important nutrient potassium in them.
7. To determine the individualized need for fluid replacement one should weigh immediately before and after exercise. If there is an immediate loss of weight seen it could mean one has actually lost valuable water. Health experts recommend drinking 3 cups of fluid for around 2 kgs of loss in weight seen immediately after exercise. This figure can be used to determine the amount of water (or sports drink) needed to drink before and during the next exercise session to prevent weight/water loss in the future.
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