posted 2012-09-21 19:14:15

The Bottom Line in Health

All you need is... Water


Next to air, water is the most essential element for our survival. Water makes up more than two-thirds of our body weight, regulates our body’s temperature, carries nutrients and oxygen to our cells, removes waste, cushions joints and protects organs and tissues.

Unfortunately, adequate consumption of water has taken on a trivial role in many of our daily routines. According to a Harvard Medical School study, over seventy-five percent of Americans have a chronic form of dehydration. Perhaps this is because people think they are too busy to drink the suggested eight cups of water every day, or maybe people feel they can perform well on a consistent basis without taking in that much water. It may even be the product of strategic marketing and advertising schemes employed by beverage companies to dupe consumers into believing the products they are purchasing are equal to or exceed the health benefits of a simple glass of water. Whatever the case may be, it is apparent that the common problems and misconceptions surrounding proper hydration should be addressed in order to help you make the right decision.

“I’m too busy to worry about drinking eight cups of water every day.”

This is the number one reason for insufficient hydration. Between your school work, social life, and job(s), giving yourself another task to do can be unappealing. Taking time on the way to your next activity to buy or refill a bottle of water, or adding another item to carry throughout the day, can be frustrating. I don’t blame you. However, in this situation it is important to understand that drinking enough water every day is critical to your success. By fulfilling the daily requirement for water, you allow your body to function at maximum capacity. Furthermore, purchasing a reusable water bottle and filling it up at water fountains around the Hunter campus allows you to stay quenched on the go without costing you money. Fortunately, Hunter has recently begun to install filtered water fountains. These types of fountains help to promote proper hydration while mitigating our impact on the environment. If you like sugary drinks, try adding real fruit juice to your bottle, or try eating whole fruits (which consist mainly of water) to satisfy your need for something sweet.
“I rarely drink eight cups of a water a day and I’ve never had a problem.”

Many people think they can be their best without the recommended amount of water each day. Most likely, these people depend on caffeinated products at any sign of fatigue. This is a dangerous approach to addressing exhaustion, since overuse of caffeine has been directly related to certain chronic diseases. Also, in time, one’s body develops an intolerance to the stimulating effects of caffeine. It is advised that you limit your caffeine intake to 300 mg per day (Your average cup of coffee has 80–100 mg of caffeine), and increase your water intake. For those who simply ignore the need to hydrate, here is an interesting fact: a mere two-percent drop in body water can cause fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with fundamental math, and difficulty in focusing on a computer screen or a printed page. In addition, poor hydration results in dizziness, muscle cramps, and irritability.
“Water doesn’t replenish the nutrients lost during exercise, so expensive sports beverages are necessary.”

Through various marketing campaigns, beverage companies have successfully sold sports drinks across the globe. These companies have convinced diverse populations that sports drinks will not only help you improve your physical capabilities, but also help you break through plateaus to achieve higher goals. The benefits of these drinks are only validated after a certain degree of exertion. Any normal training under sixty minutes can be safely accompanied by a bottle of water, because the body’s stores of sodium, potassium and other electrolytes are unlikely to become depleted in such a short period of time. Those exercising at high intensity for sixty minutes or more should drink fluids which sixty to one hundred calories per eight ounces, in order to provide the calories required for continuous performance. However, the main carbohydrates in most sports drinks are simple carbohydrates that you’ll just have to burn off later. High consumption levels of these beverages can also lead to weight gain. To save money, make your own sports drink out of water, juice, and a pinch of salt (see below for a few recipes). After exercising, supplement this homemade drink with complex carbohydrates such as whole grain breads, pasta, rice, cereal and potatoes.
The Bottom Line:

Drinking eight cups of water a day is a simple, inexpensive way to stay focused, ward off fatigue, prevent injury and improve performance in school and work. Poor hydration and dependence on energy-boosting products can have detrimental effects on your daily routine, and ultimately have detrimental effects on your health.
Recipe for Homemade Sports Drink
• 1 quart (32 oz) or 1 liter water

• 1/3 cup sugar

• 1/4 teaspoon table salt

• Flavoring to taste - orange juice, lemon juice,

unsweetened Kool-Aid or Wyler’s drink mix, etc.

Mix well and keep refrigerated.
A Note on the Author:
The Bottom Line in Health seeks to provide simple fitness and nutrition tips for the Hunter community. As a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist, it is my goal to enhance the readers’ understanding of how to maintain a healthy standard of living while improv- ing performance in and out of school and supporting an overall sense of well-being.