Monday, February 13, 2012

Water: The First Nutrient

Scientists credit water as being the reason for life on earth. All creatures rely on water more than any other substance to survive. We can go longer without food than water, and virtually our entire nutrient requirements are impacted by the amount of water we drink. The body is about 60% water by weight, and most nutrients move around through our body in water. Our bloodstream is composed primarily of water, and so are all of our tissues and organ systems. Water is also the key to elimination of toxins from our body (in the form of urine and perspiration).
There isn't a single bodily function - from seeing and hearing and thinking to running- that does not depend on water.
Think about the health benefits of water in three basic categories.
1.       Water is a lubricant. It keeps things flowing and moving. While it lubricates, water also protects our body parts from damage by surrounding them in a shock-absorbing fluid. This aspect of water is especially important in our joints, and also in our skin.
2.       Water is a solvent. Most nutrients dissolve in water. In our bodies, some of the most important dissolved nutrients are called electrolytes. The electrolyte minerals like potassium and sodium stay dissolved in water
3.       Water is a thermostat. When we are too hot, water lets us shed heat through sweating. Water also helps us retain heat when we need to stay warm.
So how much water should you be drinking daily? Hydration needs are just as individualized as calories needs. It depends on weight, activity and temperature. Let’s focus on basic needs. The average person should consume half their body weight in ounces. Example: If you weigh 150 lbs you should consume 75 ounces of water daily or 9-10 cups. (Weight in pounds dived by 2 x 1 fluid ounce)
Hydration Strategies:
·         Start each day with hydration in mind to cleanse the system and rehydrate.
·         A moderate intake of caffeine is fine but focus on decaffeinated coffee, tea, and herbal tea.
·         Low fat milk provides a unique combination of protein and 8 other essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium and Vitamin D. Use fluid milk as a way to get your three servings a day.
·         Be cautious of flavored or mineral infused waters, they can contain tons of sugars and unnecessary calories.
·         Carry water with you at all times.
·         Add lemon, lime or a small amount of juice for flavor.
·         Am I hydrated? Use your urine as a guide. Clear or pale urine is a sign of optimal hydration.
·         Consume 24 ounces of water 2 hours before exercise and another 8 to 16 ounces 30 minutes before exercise to ensure adequate hydration.
·         Consume 1 cup of fluid every 15 minutes during exercise.
·         Consume 4oz every 10 minutes of exercise after. 

Rebecca Turner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a registered dietitian and certified sports specialist in dietetics and founder of Runner’s FUEL. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @RunnersFuel. For more information visit or email at a