As the human body is around 60% water, it is extremely important to understand the functions and benefits that it has on us, as well as the issues that can arise if we are dehydrated.
Our body uses water in all of its cells, organs and tissues to assist in regulating the temperature of the body. This is vital as the human body must maintain a constant temperature to perform at peak levels. While body temperature can change very slightly, increasing or decreasing by even 1˚ Celsius will be noticeable. If body temperature rises significantly, we enter a state known as dehydration. Dehydration is caused by the body excreting water to perform bodily functions such as sweating, and not drinking more water to replace it. This can have several effects on the body varying from a slight headache, fatigue, muscular cramps, elevated heart rate to fainting or even requiring an IV drip in some extreme cases. To ensure we don't get dehydrated we recommend drinking at least 2L of water per day, and adding 1L per hour of exercise or time spent outside in the heat. This should assist in keeping fluid levels high.
Water also assists in maintaining bodily functions. It plays a massive role in digestion, allowing the body to absorb vitamins and minerals we have consumed. If we are dehydrated not only do we potentially feel sick, our bodies begin performing at lower levels. This can cause a snowball effect of not feeling well, causing us to become tired and lethargic.
Sports drinks are commonly brought up when talking about hydration and water levels. While some are beneficial to the body, they are only necessary when completing longer distance bouts of exercise. A big reason for this is that the body doesn't require the entirety of electrolytes that are found in these drinks, yet some of them contain over 50g of carbohydrates. As an example, for a comfortable 5km or 10km run water will suffice, however if you are completing any distance greater than that, then a sports drink may be beneficial.
There is no down side to drinking more than the recommended amount of water per day, just that you may have a few more trips to the bathroom. This is a good trade off to ensure that our bodies are functioning at maximum levels.
A final point to be aware of is that consuming any drinks that contain caffeine will cause your heart rate to elevate and increase sweat. To make sure this doesn't have an effect on us, consume a glass of water per caffeinated drink.
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