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Friday, May 31, 2013
One of the suggestions that should be made by health professionals when someone is starting an exercise program and a new meal plan is to drink a lot of water. And automatically almost everyone thinks that eight cups of water should be consumed daily. But then many believe that drinking water during meals could cause bloating, jeopardize digestion and even cause weight gain.
But is that true or an urban myth? How much water should really be consumed? Can you never get enough water? When and why should it be consumed during exercise? And most important what are the effects of drinking water or any liquid during meals?
The adult human body is composed of up to 75% of water. The body uses water for all chemical reactions, transportation in and out through blood and other secretions, and helping maintain body temperature and lubricant to move body parts. Particles (chloride calcium, magnesium, phosphate, bicarbonate and protein) contained in water help maintain homeostasis (body equilibrium). So the consumption of water is important for normal function of the body and metabolism.
But the rule that 8 cups of water should be consumed per day is a myth. This is because all foods and beverages also contain water and should be included when calculating the amount of water consumed. But there are other factors to considered when establishing the proper. These include the environment, activity level, metabolic needs, age and other dietary factors.
Did you know that too much water can intoxicate your body? Water intoxication occurs because an individual may not be able to dilute and/or excrete urine appropriately due to the influence of the antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which may make 8 cups a day too much. The symptoms of water intoxication presented are confusion, disorientation, nausea and vomiting, and if hyponatraemia (low sodium levels) is not treated, seizures, coma and death can occur. On the other hand there is the myth that if you are feeling thirsty you are already suffering from dehydration. This is only true when a person has lost 3% or more of bodyweight due to thirst from the lack of hydration of the blood (high plasma osmalarity). This can occur in individuals that aren’t hydrated properly during rigorous physical activity. Dehydration presents symptoms of reduced endurance, an increase in fatigue, difficulty in regulating body temperature, reduced motivation and increase in perceived exertion (self-evaluation of level of exhaustion).
We have discussed that water is primordial for human function and health, but it also has other benefits. The reason for consuming water regularly is it may reduce diseases such as urinary tract infections, cancers and heart disease. It may also be a simple solution for fatigue, lack of mental alertness, migraines, hypertension, dry cough, dry skin, acne, nosebleed, and depression. Water also may help in aiding in weight and fat loss promoting satiety, especially when it is added to the contents of the meal. But for those of you that believe that you shouldn’t consume it or any beverage with meals there really isn’t any recent scientific proof that it should or shouldn’t be done.
Water, Hydration and Health. Popkin, D’anci & Rosenberg. National Institute of Health. 2010.
Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. “Really? Is there scientific evidence for 8x8?”. H. Valtin. American Journal of Physiology. 2002.
Fatal Water Intoxication. Farrel & Bower. Journal of Clinical Pathology. 2003.