Dehydration - A Major Health Concern

dehydration

Water is the essence of life. It is the most important nutrient in our bodies, making up roughly 70 percent of our muscle and brain tissue. Only oxygen is craved by the body more than water.

Unfortunately, most Americans and Canadians do not consume sufficient water every day to meet their bodies' most basic requirements, leaving them dehydrated. Dehydration itself is responsible for a wide range of common ailments experienced by just about everyone in today's busy, fast-paced world, including headaches and fatigue.

When we breathe, we lose moisture to the air every time we exhale - as much as two cups a day! Furthermore, our bodies lose water through evaporation from the surface of our skin even without rigorous exercise, and of course we also pass water in our urine. During the course of an average day, a healthy adult can lose eight to 10 cups of water. Add in exercise, and this number rises considerably.

If we fail to replenish the water we lose through these natural processes, we set off a physiological reaction that can have serious health effects. The following is the natural progression of dehydration and its effects on the body (symptoms):

Mild

Moderate

Severe

To prevent dehydration, experts recommend that everyone drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day.

According to nutritionists, the best way to fight the heat and the cold is to drink plenty of water.

Keeping Cool in the Heat

Cold Weather Hydration


In the winter, skiers don't always realize that drinking copious amounts of water will help them perform and feel better. A 1998 study conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine monitored skiers and compared a well-hydrated group (using back-mounted hydration packs) with a "no-water" group. The results showed how dehydration can dramatically affect a skier's day. The combination of drier air, high altitude and exercise can bring on effects of dehydration ranging from fatigue to frost bite. Although skiers are often tempted to drink hot beverages or alcohol, these only add to the effects of dehydration. Don't rely on thirst to be your guide. Drink water steadily over the course of the day, at least twelve 8-ounce glasses or more if you are an aggressive skier or snowboarder.