Listen to your body — drink water!

While you may crave a cold soda or beer after mowing the lawn, nothing beats pure, unadulterated water, the healthiest drink on the planet. It quenches your thirst and is essential in helping avoid dehydration in hot weather.

Our blood, muscles, lungs, and brain all contain water. We need water to regulate body temperature and to help nutrients reach our organs and tissues. Water helps transport oxygen to our cells, remove waste, and protect our joints and organs.

Dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than the amount being taken in. Symptoms of mild dehydration include thirst, pains in joints and muscles, lower back pain, headaches, strong urine odor, and constipation. Dehydration increases the risk of muscle cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke during exercise in warm weather. Dehydration can leave exercisers and workers groggy for hours.

How much water is enough?

At least twenty percent of the water we need comes from the foods we eat. The rest comes from beverages. You can estimate the amount of water you need by dividing your weight (in pounds) in half. That gives you the number of ounces you may want to drink each day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you might want to drink at least 75 ounces of water or other fluids per day. Many experts recommend at least eight cups of water a day unless exercising, in which case you should drink more.

Water is the best choice for rehydration because it’s cheap and has no calories or added ingredients. Sweetened soft drinks and sodas have sugar that adds extra calories but no additional nutritional value. Sports drinks often contain sugar, as well, but may contain minerals that can help keep your electrolytes in balance, which is good for recovering after a hard workout. Fruit and vegetable juices can be a good choice because they have vitamins and minerals your body needs (read labels, however — vegetable juices, like many sodas, may be high in sugar and sodium).

The other side of the water bottle

As much as we require water, too much isn’t good for us, either. When we perform any high-intensity activity we lose fluid through perspiration. As a result, we increase our fluid intake and may drink too much water. This can lead to water intoxication (hyponatremia), a rare but dangerous condition involving low blood sodium levels.

As a general rule, drink when you feel thirsty, but don’t force down huge amounts. Use common sense, always carry water with you when you work or recreate outdoors, and remember to drink regularly, no matter what you’re doing.

Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. Employees in this program have access to tools and information that can help improve their overall physical and mental well-being. The program is free to both you and your employees as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!