Valuing Hydration: The Basics on World Water Day
Updated: Mar 22, 2022
In light of World Water Day, we'll be "diving" into all things water! What exactly is water? Why is it crucial to the body? What are the signs of dehydration? And how much water should you be drinking? All this and more as we share our favourite ways to stay hydrated!
What is Water Made Of?
I’m sure you've heard water’s nickname – H2O. But H2O is really just one molecule of water. In reality, the water you see and drink is composed of millions of H2O molecules. Water is crucial to our existence. Fun fact: 60% of your body is water, and 70% of the earth is water! So essentially, you are water, and water is everywhere!
Water is essential for good health. Recently, Canada’s Food Guide suggests making water your drink of choice because it has various roles in the body!
The Many Roles Water Plays in the Body
Many of us know water is good for you, but do we know why? The truth is, our little friend, H2O, plays crucial roles in our bodies! We can not live without it. To further your understanding, let’s review a few key roles.
1. Improving brain function
Interesting, right? You might be thinking– how is this possible? I thought that's what coffee is for! Studies have shown that slight dehydration causes changes in cognitive function, specifically memory, psychomotor function, and attention. This means that if you’re even slightly dehydrated, you'll likely have trouble with memory recall, paying attention in meetings, and are more likely to make mistakes. So take this as a reminder to go grab your water bottle before reading on!
2. Regulating our body temperature
Drinking water to cool down is only the first step in the process of the body's cooling mechanism. The body uses water to absorb heat and remove heat via sweat! That's right– your sweat is a bi-product of water! If heat wasn't removed, via water, we would essentially overheat.
3. Transporting oxygen and nutrients
Water allows transportation to happen inside of the intestinal walls. You can think of it like this: Oxygen and nutrients are being pushed via a water slide to the proper locations in the body.
4. Assists in waste removal
Without water, waste products could not exist! Again, consider the water slide analogy. Water is constantly pushing waste out of your body. So, yes that means that our bodies can naturally "detox" – no need for celery juice cleanses or expensive detox teas. If you haven't already, be sure to read our blog post on debunking these well-crafted marketing ploys!
5. Maintaining blood pressure
Consuming enough water allows your body to circulate blood, which is a key component to maintaining good blood pressure!
6. Fighting infections
When your body is invaded by a foreign substance, it reacts by utilizing white blood cells through the lymphatic system. Unlike blood pressure, this system has little pressure to move throughout the body and relies heavily on fluids to move. Therefore, lack of water limits the movement of our attack system, white blood cells; thus, restricting their ability to fight off infections.
7. Absorption of essential nutrients
There's a class of vitamins that fall under the water-soluble category. This means they can only be absorbed (and therefore used) in our body in the presence of water! Vitamin C, B, and zinc all fall under this category. These vitamins and minerals have independent key functions within the body. B vitamins and zinc play a crucial role in metabolism – without them, we wouldn't survive, and without water, we wouldn't be able to receive these nutrients. Similarly, Vitamin C plays an important role in immunity, and again, without water, we wouldn't absorb it!
What Happens When We Don’t Drink Enough Water?
Dehydration is the term used to describe inadequate amounts of water in the body. We lose water everyday through urine, saliva, sweat, etc. Being hydrated isn't just about what goes in; but also about what goes out. It's normal to lose water daily but we want to be sure that we're replenishing our bodies to make up for it!
Water is essential for us to function properly! It is important to understand that there are different levels of dehydration; mild, moderate, and severe. It is crucial to be familiar with the signs of dehydration, so you can prevent it. Let’s discuss some signs you can look for.
Signs of Mild and Moderate Dehydration:
Less frequent urination
Signs of Severe Dehydration:
Dizziness/ feeling like you’re going to faint
Rapid heartbeat & breathing
Dark yellow urine
So you might be wondering– how much water do you need. Well, water requirements are dependent on individual lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise level, health status, environment, etc. If you have an active lifestyle, an illness, or are exposed to a unique environment, some calculations can be done to confirm your water intake. If this is not you, Health Canada suggests consuming 8-10 glasses of 250 mL each per day to stay hydrated.
Tips for Staying Hydrated:
Bring your reusable water bottle everywhere!
Ask for water when at a restaurant
Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge or close to your workspace to encourage you to drink more throughout the day
Never exercise without water! Be sure to hydrate throughout and after your workout
Tired of just drinking water? Here are some alternatives to spice it up
Herbal tea– you won’t believe how different this tastes!
Infusing water with fruits and vegetables. Don’t get it twisted; lemon water is not a superfood, but it tastes amazing!
Water + fruit-infused popsicles. These are amazing in the summer!
Enjoy a fresh bowl of fruit or veggies. Both fruit and veggies are packed with water
Water flavors/enhancements. Click here for a list of dietitian-approved options that provide electrolytes too!
Carbonated water! If you have not tried Bubly sparkling water, you’re missing out!
Be mindful of your water intake! If you have trouble drinking enough water, rely on these helpful tips to increase your intake. And remember, water is essential every day, so make it a priority.
In light of World Water Day, we'd also like to spotlight a non-profit organization doing great work to end the global water crisis. Charity Water has been working to raise awareness to the water crisis since 2006 – with their 91,414 ongoing projects in 29 countries and 14,762,215 people whose lives will be impacted with access to clean water. If you have the means to, we encourage you to donate what you can here! 100% of your donation will go towards bringing clean water to people in need.
This article was written in collaboration with Jenn Zubair, a third-year nutritional science student, and RD2B.