Drink To Win – Part 1
Dr. Sonja Pettersen N.M.D.
ArticleText “In order to win any event, including this game of life, you need the optimal resources in adequate amounts. Our bodies are composed mostly of water which needs to be replenished regularly like any other nutrient. Our muscles are 75% water and our brains are over 80% which are two key ingredients in performance so they require optimal resources to function at their highest potential. Adequate water intake will prevent the onset of many symptoms and therefore avert disease processes from being established.
We have all heard of the benefits of drinking 8 glasses of water a day, however that is an antiquated estimate and must be updated to reflect our modern environment. The pollution we are exposed to through food and air has increased significantly as has the amount of chemicals found in our food either through environmental contamination or through processing. In addition, our “”fast-food nation”” promotes the consumption of beverages
other than water such as sodas, coffee, tea, diet drinks and alcohol, all of which I call “”anti-water””. Even fruit juice, with its high sugar content, and processed vegetable juice, with its high sodium content, can increase the bodies need for water so cannot be included in the daily requirement of fluid intake. Our bodies need extra water to overcome the ill-effects of these elements.
Other factors that determine water need is activity level – athletes have an increased requirement- and climate where dry climates increase the need. In addition to outside influences, our own genetics, body size and weight will determine our specific need.
The general formula for adequate intake is:
Body weight in pounds divided by 2 = number of ounces per day
The formula for optimal function is:
Body weight in pounds divided by 2 + 20% = number of ounces per day
e.g. 140 lb/2 = 70
20% of 70 = 14
70 + 14 = 84 oz/day
You can then divide by 8 to determine the number of 8 oz glasses in a day if this is a format you are used to.
N.B. If the body is not used to handling this much water it will need some time to adjust to the increased volume. If you drink significantly less than your optimal value, it is best to increase your consumption over a period of 2-4 weeks. There are also medical conditions that could be aggravated by increasing your water intake, so it is always best to check with your healthcare provider before changing your routine. The kidneys are responsible for filtering the increased fluids so they need to be able to handle the new volume.
Weight loss is one of the most attractive side benefits to drinking sufficient water, however the body’s initial response to increasing water consumption may be water retention, since the body will store nutrients that it is used to rationing. Similarly, for those people who skip meals regularly, the body is more apt to store the calories when it gets them to ration them for the starvation period they are used to experiencing. In order to achieve the weight-loss benefits of adequate water intake, you will need to work through the initiation period of water retention until all the body’s systems have acclimatized to the new healthy level. Once the body has achieved proper hydration, the systems will be so efficient that you will often notice healthy weight loss without putting any extra effort into it. If the fat cells are well hydrated, they are more prone to utilization by the body for fuel.
Many people confuse thirst for hunger so it is a good habit to respond to that first “”hunger”” signal with a glass of water and see if you are still hungry. Water can act as a appetite suppressant by distending the abdomen which sends the message of fullness to the brain.
Optimal athletic performance cannot be achieved with suboptimal levels of hydration since all the body’s functions depend on adequate fluid levels. The functions are so critical to maintain health that we will delve into the details next week.”