Water please!

Can you name a nutrient that you do not get enough of? This nutrient is important and most of you never get enough of it- water. A shortage of body water results in dehydration and severe dehydration can be lead to a critical condition. When you are thirsty, your body is telling you that you need to drink water. Keep in mind that sometimes when you are not feeling well your body may need something as simple as water. Although other beverages and most foods help supply the water our bodies need, water is the best thirst-quencher and also better for your spending plan.

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 of their body is water. We need to replace about 3 to 4 percent of ourselves each day. Day to day weight fluctuations are due to changes in water balance, not fat. The time is takes to shed or store body fat takes much longer.

Water is so important to your body because it is the solvent and transporter for most substances such as nutrients, hormones, enzymes, wastes, etc. 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 where many body processes are constantly taking place. It is one of the main end products of metabolism, the process where we obtain energy from food. An overlooked source of body water comes from the metabolism of energy nutrients: carbohydrates, fat, and protein. The main end products of metabolism are carbon dioxide and water. Water is also a lubricant and cushions our joints. Water is a component of tears, saliva, feces, and mucus membranes lining the lungs, mouth, intestines, etc. Water also regulates our body temperature. Without water evaporating from lungs and skin, you could not maintain a constant body temperature.

Your body really needs adequate water to maintain physical work performance. Just a four to five 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. 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 water. A rule of thumb is the higher the percentage of water in a food the lower its calories.

I know many of you do not like to get up in the night so you don’t drink water before going to sleep. Some health advocates are now encouraging us to drink water before going to bed. We get up in the night to void to get rid of water, but we are also losing water as we perspire. This only reinforces that we need to drink water all throughout the day.

We function on about 1 ¾ to 3 quarts of water daily, with half coming from beverages. Before you are thirsty, drink water. When you are thirsty, drink water. Bottom line you need to drink water. Bottoms up- Drink your water! 

Mary Ann Lienhart Cross provides this Food & Nutrition Column weekly for the Elkhart Truth. Contact her at 574-533-0554 or via email to: lienhart@purdue.com.

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