Did you know 60% of our biosystem is water and maintaining adequate water intake is important for functioning?
Lets start at the cellular level. We all know that cells are the building blocks of a organism that are organized in a functionally meaningful way.
In order to burn energy (ATP), we need water. Looking at the picture on the left, during cellular respiration ATP reacts with water and as a result energy is released. We need water to be present in order to be able to create energy in our cells.
Fats, proteins and carbohydrates are three energy sources for our cells, our body, with fats providing most calories per gram. Fatty acids burned for energy in the muscle can either come directly from the blood or from the storages that are within the muscles. Mitochondria is the cell organ that is responsible for turning fatty cells into energy. In order for fatty acids to be oxidized, we need water to start the reaction. How does water intake apply to physical therapy? Actually, in many different ways. During intense exercise, there is a high level of hydrolysis of ATP by the muscles fibers. As your activity increases, demand from your muscles increases therefore, you need more water and fuel to use. Thats one reason why we get thirsty during or after an increase of activity level.
Muscle is made made up of subunits called actin and myosin. When a muscle contracts, those subunits approximate, and when the muscle relaxes, the subunits return to their original position. Presence of water at the muscular level decreases stickiness of the muscle, when the muscle is less sticky, the efficiency of the muscle improves. Better function also translates into increased strength, power and function whereas dehydration can increase your risk for charley horses which is an inventory contraction of the muscles (most common in calves or hamstrings). Good hydration also means decreased likelihood of muscle spasms and sustaining an injury: a sprain or a strain.
Not only drinking adequate water, saves your muscles but it also saves your heart. The blood is a made up of water (80%) and the plasma (cells and all other useful organisms). The viscosity of the blood can change with how much water you drink or do not drink daily. According to Meridian Valley research findings, dehydration is shown to increase blood viscosity, therefore increase your risk for cardiovascular diseases.
Whats the current recommendation?
The IOM (Institute of Medicine) report did not specify requirements for water but made general fluid intake recommendations based on survey data of 91 ounces (about 11 cups a day) for women and 125 ounces (about 15 cups a day) for men. Simply, I tell my patients about 1/2 your body weight in ounces- easier to remember! Remember, these guidelines are for total fluid intake, including soups and herbal teas.
When I ask my patients about their daily water intake, everyone chuckles at first, then reply, “I do not drink that much. But I drink coffee, does coffee count?” Coffee also counts towards your fluid intake up to a certain point. What we need to consider here is caffeine intake not really the coffee itself. Caffeine is found in chocolate, coffee and soft drinks. The research shows that caffeine is a natural diuretic, which starts dehydrating your body after a certain build up in your system. The magic number is 360 mg. Meaning, once your caffeine consumption exceeds 360 mg daily, then it becomes a diuretic and starts taking water away from your body. Want to calculate if you consume 360 mg caffeine in a day? Your total caffeine amount depends on what size coffee your order, light vs. dark roast- light roast is higher in caffeine-, how much chocolate you eat, also whether or not you consume any soft drinks. You will be doing the math here, my friend!
Bottom line is, just like air and food, water is very very important for us. If we can survive 3 weeks without food, we can only survive 8-10 days without drinking any water, and probably couple of minutes without air.
If drinking water is really really hard because it is so blend and boring, then add some mint, cucumber, strawberries lemon or whatever fruit you want in it. Make it more tasteful.
Have a pitcher ready when you open the fridge or place it on the counter top so its accessible to you.
Delegate a cup and leave it somewhere visible. Drink a cup prior to and another cup after meals, just that adds up to 6 cups already.
If there is a will, there is a way. You can do it! Do it for yourself!