Food and Nutrition: Most could benefit from drinking more water
Posted: 08/20/2012 at 1:15 am
Food & Nutrition
Can you name a nutrient you don’t get enough of? This nutrient is vitally important and most of you never get enough of it. Give up? The answer is water. When your body is not receiving the water it needs the result is dehydration. Severe dehydration can be critical. People of all ages can die from dehydration.
Our bodies contain more water than any other nutrient — nearly 60 percent of a normal-sized adult is water. Considering that adult bodies are nearly two-thirds water, this means that for a 150 pound person, 90 pounds or 45 quarts are water. We need to replenish about 3 to 4 percent of ourselves each day. Our body’s day-to-day weight fluctuations are due to changes in water balance, not fat. Shedding or storing body fat is much slower.
Water is so important to your body because it serves the body in so many ways. It is the solvent and transporter for most substances such as nutrients, hormones, enzymes and wastes. As a building block, water fills spaces both within and between the cells. It combines chemically with other compounds such as glycogen (animal starch) and fat.
Water is a catalyst in chemical reactions, part of many body processes that are constantly taking place. It is also one of the main end products of metabolism, the process whereby we obtain energy from the food we consume. Water also serves as a lubricant and cushion for our joints. It is a component of tears, saliva, feces and mucus membranes lining the lungs, mouth and intestines. Water also regulates your body temperature. Without water evaporating from lungs and skin, you could not maintain a constant body temperature.
Your body needs adequate water supply to maintain physical work performance. Just a 4 to 5 percent decrease in body water will result in a 20 to 30 percent decline in efficiency. Besides water from the faucet, all the beverages we drink contain water: coffee, tea, milk, soft drinks, juices, even alcoholic beverages. Although other beverages and most foods help supply the water our bodies need, for your spending plan as well as the body, water is the best thirst-quencher.
Other water sources include soups and gelatins. Solid foods contain various amounts of water. Lettuce is 96 percent water in contrast with 0.5 percent in sugar. Other foods fall somewhere in between. Potatoes are 80 percent water, chicken is 63 percent and bread is 36 percent. As compared with whole milk at 87 percent water, watermelon is 93 percent. A rule of thumb is, the higher the percentage of water in a food the lower the calories.
An overlooked source of body water comes from the metabolism of nutrients: carbohydrates, fats and protein. The main end products of metabolism are carbon dioxide and water. We function on about 1-3/4 to 3 quarts of water daily, with half coming from beverages. I encourage you to drink more water and encourage other adults and especially children to drink more water.
Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross is an Extension educator in consumer family science. Write to her at 17746 E. C.R. 34, Goshen, IN 46528; call 533-0554; fax 533-0254; or email email@example.com.