Everybody knows we need to drink water. In fact pretty much everyone knows that without water we will turn into a shriveled up prune 6 feet under in about 4 days, but despite this I see kids turn up to my goalkeeping coaching sessions in the heat of New York City summers without any water!
In this article we discuss some of the main reasons we need water, how much water we need and some tips on how to drink more, especially if you don’t enjoy it.
Dehydration can be linked to pretty much every aliment a person can have, think how much worse than can be for performance.
Digestion begins the second food enters your mouth. Saliva helps to break down food but if you are dehydrated you will find it harder to produce saliva which will mean foods will not be properly prepared for further digestion in the stomach.
Down the line dehydration can dry out the mucus membrane in the stomach which is a cause of heartburn. The mucus of the colon will also become dried out which means that the colon is not properly lubricated leading to constipation.
Our muscles and tendons are covered in a thin sheet of connective tissue called fascia. Fascia is made up primarily of water molecules so when we are dehydrated fascia becomes dry and almost glue like. Without water acting as a lubricant the fascia has much harder time sliding over each other. This will slow down and inhibit movement.
Water is also a lubricant for our joints, and I think we all know that stiff joints will obviously lead to poor movement and pain.
When we lose enough water our blood volume drops. This means that there is going to be a lower flow of oxygen to the brain. When this happens the blood vessels dilate and cause swelling in the brain. This swelling in the brain is what causes headaches.
There are lots of toxins which our body has to deal with every day. A lot of them are removed through our kidneys, however, without water the filtering system of the kidneys cannot work and you are left damaging side effects that cause gall stones and kidney infections.
Also as mentioned above water acts as a lubricant for the colon. Without getting into gory details this is another important function in the removal of toxins from the body.
Studies have shown that the amount of brain power needed to complete a task is much higher when the subject is dehydrated. Dehydration can often be the cause of your afternoon slump and lack of concentration at the office.
Interestingly delirium is symptom of chronic dehydration and is often seen with elderly people.
How much is enough?
There are no conclusive studies and everyone is different but on average we loss around 2 liters of water a day. Therefore I think it is a good idea to try and drink at least 2 liters a day. We get water from our food, with fresh green vegetables and fruit being a great source, so if your diet is high in fruit and vegetables you may not need to drink as much. You don’t need to be clinging on to a water bottle all day but the best way to ensure you are properly hydrated is to make sure you never feel thirsty.
Although it is possible, it is highly unlike that you will suffer from water intoxication, so there is no harm in drinking as much as possible.
Remember if you are exercising you lose a lot of water through sweat and to feed our muscles so make sure to drink throughout your training and at least an extra liter after the workout.
How do I make it less boring?
A lot of people tell me that they just find water too boring. I don’t understand it, I love water. In fact I would say that there is nothing better than ice cold water! There are ways to help you drink more though. First off you don’t actually need to drink water to stay hydrated some good alternatives are green and herbal teas. Coconut water and eating fruits like water melons are pretty tasty ways to stay hydrated too.
Having said this I believe that there is no true substitute for water. Adding mint leaves or a lemon slice will give a kick to plain water. You could also add in some frozen berries, just be mindful not to do this too often as you don’t want to be blindly consuming too much sugar.
Drinking processed fruit juices and soda does not count. These drinks are full of chemicals which the body needs to excrete, which means the kidneys have to work harder and will eventually lead to greater dehydration.
To sum it all up, DRINK MORE WATER! It really is one the easiest ways to make a huge difference to your health and the quality of your life. Water helps with everything from cushioning joints to regulating the body’s temperature to lubricating your eyes. It is the true life blood and is my number one recommendation for anyone looking to make healthier changes in their lives.
I hope this helps and as usual don’t hesitate to send in your questions.