Fitness Mantra: Stay hydrated

Make sure you drink enough water to maintain the body’s fluid balance.

Fluids are the most important nutrient in a body. The body’s water requirement varies due to many factors: body weight, climate and temperature, total lean muscle weight, amount of physical exercise and daily activity, and eating habits. To maintain the body’s fluid balance, one needs to compensate for the water lost each day. Inadequate water intake may result in lower endurance capacity, faster heart rate, thicker than normal blood and muscle cramps. So drinking water at regular intervals throughout the day is crucial.

Compared to body fat, lean tissue holds more water; so the leaner one is, the higher proportion of water in the body. Males have more muscles and carry higher percentage of water than females. All the body’s tissues contain water. Blood contain 83 per cent water, lean mass is about 75 per cent water, fat cells have 20-25 per cent water, and bones seem hard but have about 22 per cent of water by weight.

Symptoms of Dehydration

* Thirst

* Dry mouth, fatigue, headache, impaired physical performance

* Increasing body temperature breathing rate and pulse rate

* Weakness, dizziness, uncontrolled breathing during exercise

* Muscle spasms, swollen tongue, wakefulness, delirium

* Failing kidney function, poor blood circulation

The Dietary Reference Intake from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) advises an adequate intake level of 3.5 (14 cups) litres for males above 20 years of age, and females around 2.5 litres (10 cups) a day.

Under the following circumstances, one may need more than normal requirements: Exposure to heated air for a long time; during pregnancy and breast feeding; during illnesses such as diarrhoea, fever, and vomiting; during strenuous physical exercise/workouts. A high fibre diet also increases the body’s need for extra water to process more roughage and prevent constipation.

Caution: If you always feel thirsty or urinate too much, talk to a doctor. This may be a sign of diabetes. On the other hand, water retention could be a reason for kidney/liver problem.

How to reverse dehydration:

Check the colour of urine. Dark-coloured urine indicates dehydration. Drink more fluids, so the urine is pale and nearly colourless.

Wear light loose-fitting clothes.

Drink water before, during and after a workout.

Contaminated water causes diarrhoea and diseases such as cholera and hepatitis. So if you drink tap water, boil it for at least one minute and store in a sterile container. Use iodine or chlorine tablets to disinfect water supply. Avoid drinking water that has been in lead plumbing for six hours or more. If there is any problem in your water supply, install a water-filtering device or use bottled water for drinking/cooking. But check the packing date first.

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