{STEP 2.6} Proper Water Nutrition

Why is an understanding of water nutrition important to your healthy diet plan?  

About two-thirds of our body weight is from water.  It is an essential nutrient but what gives it the distinction of being the most important nutrient is we are unable to conserve it like other nutrients. Even under starvation conditions, we can survive for months so long as we have water.  Without it, we a meager chance of survival. This is because just a 5% decrease in water weight will likely lead to death. 

Ironically, we often don't pay attention to the importance of water until we are deprived of it because of the prevalence in the developed world along with the proliferation of manufactured beverages.  Some estimates suspect upwards of 75% of the developed world's population is chronically dehydrated.  

Our body cells die very quickly without adequate water.  It carries to the cells the nutrients it needs while cleansing it of wastes.  Water is the primary mode of nutrient transportation within our body. Its role as a vehicle is possible in large part due to its uncanny ability to act as a solvent and dissolve nearly anything.

The water molecule enjoys its space and resists crowding. This property allows it to function as a protective layer to provide lubrication and cushion for our body against shock.  When energy is produced by any of the macronutrients - carbohydrates, lipids, protein - heat is also given off as a by-product.  To maintain a healthy body tempature, water helps get rid of the excess heat in the form of sweat.  

When our water nutrition is poor, we suffer the consequences as our bodily systems work inefficiently.

Avoid Becoming a Statistic and Feel Better in the Process

It doesn't really make a lot sense that we have a vast availability of water but fail to drink enough on a daily basis.  Moreover, many of us that are chronically dehydrated know we aren't consistently drinking enough water.

When our kidneys are working properly, we can filter up to 4 cups ( ~ 1L ) of water every hour.  At this pace, we would meet the commonly accepted "8 glasses of water a day" intake goal for health.  Like many nutrition guidelines, this recommendation is not specifically tailored toward you.  

Instead, it acts as a benchmark that will prevent chronic dehydration in your body.  So... What influences your water nutrition?

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Conditions that INCREASE the Need for Water

  • Alcohol Consumption

  • Dietary Fiber

  • High Protein Intake

  • High Salt Intake

  • High Sugar Intake

  • While on Medication, especially Diuretics

  • Prolonged Diarrhea, Vomiting, or Fever

  • Cold Weather

  • High Altitude

  • Hot Weather & High Humidity

  • Physical Activity

  • Surgery, Blood Loss, & Burns

  • Very Young or Old Age

  • Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a industry-leading report that recommends adequate intake levels based on gender and age.  We've found a simple water intake calculator that uses information from this report along with lifestyle and body weight.

Read up further on why Water Nutrition is a key part of How to Eat Healthy
. In addition to understanding thirst, below is a great list of strategies to increase your water intake without having to set alarms for when to drink or keep journal entries every time take a gulp.

Our Top 5 Strategies Because Proper Water Nutrition = Better Health

  1. Find your number:  Use the calculator above and figure out your daily goal.  Remember, a body with healthy kidneys can handle much more, so it's fine to exceed your goal, but don't come up short.

  2. Make tracking your intake easier:  Rather than use journals, break your intake goal into portions using bottles or jugs.  For example, if you should drink 100 oz/day, then realize that number can be reached by drinking five 20 oz. water bottles.  Know how big your glasses are at home and work.  Always work smart, not hard. 

  3. Take it everywhere:  Piggybacking off that last strategy, go mobile with your water nutrition.  The easier way is to purchase a reusable, washable water bottle.  Many brands offer a BPA-free hard plastic or stainless steel option and can be purchased at grocery stores, big-box retailers, and outdoor retailers.

  4. First meal of the day:  Not exactly, but start your day, every morning, with a tall glass of water.  It will help wake you up, provide satiety before breakfast, and get you on your way to your daily intake goal.

  5. It's in the urine:  While urine volume is typically considered a scientific method for detecting hydration, the color can be used as a rough guideline to indicate dehydration.  If you're volume is small or the color isn't a light yellow or clear, then drink a glass or bottle of water.  One caveat: Diuretics, especially alcohol will create a false positive of hydration by producing large volumes of clear urine.

Action Steps 
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The following articles will help you set guidelines and craft your plan.

  1. Daily Food Guide for Wellness of Body and Mind

  2. Protein in Diet should Always be High Quality

  3. Healthy Diet Fats are Real!

  4. A Guide to the Glycemic Load

  5. The Benefits of Vitamins: The Facts and the Fiction

  6. Water Nutrition: 3 out of 4 People Don't Drink Enough

**As always, feel free to use the navigation below to backtrack and get an overview of Healthy Diet Mentor and our plan to get you on your way to a lifelong healthy diet.

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