health, and dehydration)
7/1/2002; Deppe, Michele
consumed a well-balanced diet, worked out consistently and got plenty of
rest. However, instead of enjoying the energy she expected from her
healthy lifestyle, Rachel felt awful most of the time. Frustrated by
constant headaches and fatigue, Rachel scheduled an appointment with her
doctor. Her doctor's advice was simple: Drink more water.
Contributes to Wellness
Dehydration causes many common health complaints, such as headaches,
mental fogginess, lethargy, anxiety, muscle fatigue and chronic
diseases. Headaches occur when inadequate fluid consumption constrict
and dilate blood vessels, creating a spasm in the head and causing pain.
When headache sufferers consume large amounts of caffeine and artificial
sweeteners (which increase dehydration), they unintentionally intensify
their pain. Poor hydration also causes unclear thinking. A study
published by the Archives of Environmental Health signified that mild
dehydration caused decreased visual ability, short-term memory and
difficulty solving addition and subtraction problems.
M. Kleiner, Ph.D., R.D., FACN, an affiliate professor of the Nutritional
Sciences Program at the University of Washington in Seattle as well as
author of Power Eating and High-Performance Nutrition, blames common
ailments on inadequate hydration. "When you get dehydrated, muscle
fatigue kicks in. A lot of people notice it in their legs--they've got
to sit down," she says. Staying hydrated during workouts prevents
overheating and improves physical endurance. Mildly dehydrated
exercisers fatigue 25 percent faster than hydrated exercisers. Even a
scant 2 percent decrease in hydration can cause endurance performance to
drop 6 or 7 percent. Also, dehydrated muscles are more likely to develop
cramps and spasms.
Thirst: A Poor Indicator
only drink water when you are thirsty, you probably aren't drinking
enough. "Our thirst mechanisms aren't usually a good indicator of when
we need water. When you become thirsty, chances are you are already
mildly dehydrated," Dr. Kleiner explains. Not drinking enough water
causes blood to become concentrated as well as heavy on salt and other
solutes. Solutes pull water out of the salivary glands causing thirst.
Kleiner's studies indicate that approximately half of Americans are
dehydrated and suffer related symptoms. Most people lose about 10 cups
of water daily through urination, perspiration and respiration. Since
your body cannot store excess water, you need to replenish it by
drinking 9 to 11 cups (8 ounce servings) of fluids a day.
studies show drinking water may also buffer diseases, such as asthma,
heart problems and cancer. Water can positively influence respiratory
problems. A study at the University of Buffalo found asthmatic
individuals have worse lung function when dehydrated and are more likely
to suffer attacks.
health is also improved by drinking water. Dehydration can decrease
blood volume, force the heart to pump harder and increase the risk of
heart attack. Mitral valve prolapse syndrome (MVPS) is a cardiac
condition that occurs when the mitral valve (which separates the top of
the heart from the bottom) doesn't close properly, causing a back flow
of blood. In a study of MVPS, at the University of Arizona, researchers
duplicated the symptoms of this condition by inducing dehydration in
cleansing river, water flushes the intestines providing protection
against kidney stones, urinary tract infections, constipation and cancer
causing agents. Researchers in England revealed an immense decrease of
breast cancer risk in women who drink sufficient amounts of water.
According to a study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in
Seattle, Washington, individuals who drank at least four, eight ounce,
glasses of water daily reduced their risk of colon cancer by 46 percent,
compared to those who only drank two glasses a day. The Cancer Research
Center of Hawaii concluded that women who drank eight glasses of water a
day reduced their risk of developing bladder cancer by 80 percent.
says these studies are well conducted and although the results are not
definite, the information is very significant. "People say the
participants were health conscious water drinkers [with] other good
health practices that lower[ed] their risk for problems, but that is not
really the case," she explains. "Other health factors and habits were
taken into consideration, [yet] water consumption was still a remarkable
factor. Someone who falls short in other areas of good health habits can
benefit immensely from drinking water." The healing capabilities of
water astounds researchers. "We don't understand what makes water so
special," Kleiner says, "but water has special properties we can't [get]
You're Not Hungry, You're Thirsty
easy to confuse thirst for hunger pangs. If you are eating a healthy
diet in effort to lose excess pounds or control your weight, water can
help. Drinking a glass of water before a meal of to stave off snacking
urges is a simple and effective weight loss strategy. According to Kelly
Brownell, psychologists and director for the Yale Center for Eating and
Weight Disorders, drinking water with meals causes you to eat less food,
helping you control portion sizes. Water accomplishes this task without
adding calories and provides necessary hydration as well.
recent study conducted at the Center for Human Nutrition in Omaha,
Nebraska, has received a lot of attention. The study indicates
caffeinated beverages contribute to our fluid needs, even though they
act as diuretics (i.e., draw water from the body to produce more urine).
Kleiner warns the results of this study have been misinterpreted by the
media. "The study was based on people drinking two cups of coffee, which
counted towards their total fluid consumption for the day. They found
that two cups of caffeinated beverages didn't cause dehydration," she
are two interesting points of this study," states Kleiner. "Two cups a
day is probably the limit of caffeinated beverages you can consume
without initiating dehydration. In a German study, people who consumed
six cups of coffee a day were mildly dehydrated. Between the two
studies, you can see the difference as a dose response. The good news is
you can enjoy a little coffee and count it towards your total fluid
consumption for the day, but that doesn't mean caffeinated beverages
[can] replace water." The second finding showed eight cups of fluid a
day isn't enough. "My recommendations are 9 to 11 cups a day," says
Kleiner. "For additional caffeinated beverages, drink an extra hall to
one cup of water per beverage to counterbalance the diuretic effects."
us think we are too busy to heed our thirst, thus exposing ourselves to
a host of avoidable ailments. There are few health practices as easy to
adopt, with such rewards, as drinking water. The inconvenience pales in
comparison to how great we feel when adequately hydrated.
for Quenching Your Thirst
you plan your meals, have a water plan, too. Drink a glass of water in
the morning and before going to sleep. To stay alert during your day,
take a water break at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Keep a water bottle handy and,
if necessary, schedule your water goal into your daily planner.
time you feel thirsty, dehydration is already underway. Reports from the
Mayo Clinic indicate mild dehydration symptoms can include lethargy,
anxiety, constipation, loss of appetite, headaches and mental fogginess.
more than usual if you are flying in a plane, ill, exposed to extreme
weather (cold weather and high altitudes are just as dehydrating as
sizzling summer days), pregnant or nursing. While working out, drink an
extra eight ounces of water for every 20 minutes you exercise.
your thirst with flavored, sparkling, carbonated or bottled water. Milk,
juice and tea are a close second, but limit caffeinated beverages to two
cups (16 ounces) a day.
Slows You Down
University of Bristol in England found evidence that drinking cold water
before an important event may decrease your physical or mental
performance by as much as 15 percent. Drink room temperature water on
your big day, so your body doesn't use extra energy to warm the water.
instructions indicating medications be taken with plenty of water. Drugs
can become concentrated in the bloodstream and aren't as effective
without adequate hydration.
Something isn't Right
Excessive thirst and urination can be warning signs for diseases, such
as diabetes. Consult your doctor if you notice conspicuous changes.
Kleiner, Susan M. "Dangerously Dehydrated: How Dry Are You?" Shape,
Kuzemchak, Sally. "Drink Up!" Parenting, June 6, 2001. MAF Fitness
Newsletter. Vol. VII, Issue 6, November/December 2000.
Robbin, Rachel. "Liquid Assets." Vegetarian Times, August 2000.
Tennesen, Michael. "A Drink to Your Health." Health, June 2000, Volume
14, Issue 5, pp. 88.
University: Health & Nutrition Letter. "Coffee Helps You Meet Fluid
Needs, Too." Vol. 19, Number 5, July 2001.
Deppe is addicted to kick boxing, weight training and horseback riding.
She holds an associate's degree in nutrition/dietetics. Deppe writes
about health issues and is a registered dietetic technician. She resides
in Dayton, Ohio.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Aerobics and Fitness Association of America
The above article is from
Fitness, July 1, 2002.