Drinking Water Is Not Enough

  • Drinking Water Is Not Enough

    BY Catherine Sissons | ON Monday, 11 December 2017
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    Having the energy, vitality and wellness for your lifestyle is greatly determined by your fluid balance.  The key to optimal health is by fueling your body for optimal water balance and blood sugar balance in order to achieve satisfaction and optimal well-being.

    Water makes up over 60% of body mass when you are optimally hydrated, and small losses can cause hunger and stress on the body.  This water is stored and regulated both inside and outside your body cells.

    The composition of the fluid within the cells is determined by the concentrations of electrolytes on either side of your cell membrane. Your cell membranes are semi-permeable, and allow water to freely transfer from one side to the other depending on the concentration on each side of it, in a process called osmosis.

    The body likes to stay in balance, so if the electrolytes (e.g. sodium and potassium) are more concentrated outside the cell then water will move outside, and vice versa if the electrolyte concentration within the cell is higher.  This is one of the reasons why you find yourself visiting the bathroom when you increase your water intake because your body is not in balance so it removes what it doesn't think it needs.

    The concentration of your blood is measured by osmolarity. When your blood has a low concentration it has a low osmolarity and when it has a higher concentration it has high osmolarity. 

    Low osmolarity means there are less molecules of electrolyte dissolved in a given volume of solution, and high osmolarity means the fluid will have a high number of electrolyte molecules dissolved in a given volume of solution. The brain controls fluid intake through a number of factors, including the osmolarity of your blood.   ¬≠

    When you are dehydrated messages will be sent to your thirst centre to tell you to seek out fluid.  When you become dehydrated your blood volume drops and your blood osmolarity goes up, sparking your thirst response.  Chemical messengers that detect fluid balance on the outside of your cells send messages to your brain's thirst centre to indicate you need fluid. 

    However, taking a drink when thirsty may provide only temporary relief. You need to do more than wet your tongue - you need to rehydrate from the inside. Long-term relief from thirst happens through absorption of water from the small intestine, and this lowers the osmolarity of your blood.

    It takes around half an hour for your small intestine to absorb enough water to correct your body's fluid balance when you are dehydrated. You might think the problem can easily be fixed by downing 500 ml of water, but unfortunately much of it won't be absorbed and will end up in your bladder.

    You might have experienced this when you've tried to drink a large volume of water only to find it never really quenched your thirst. You have to continue drinking small volumes of water until enough has been absorbed to correct your fluid balance. It is better not to become dehydrated in the first place, and a good way of preventing it is to eat foods with a high water content. Water-rich foods allow for the absorption of fluids over a large surface area, and are a good way of staying hydrated without frequent visits to the toilet.

    Just as your body temperature and blood sugar is controlled by the body's homeostasis, so is your fluid balance. Over-consumption of water you do not need will be removed through frequent visits to the bathroom. 

    If your fluid levels drop outside normal range then your body will work towards returning it to its set point. When you get your water through the food that you eat, you not only provide your body with an efficient way of delivering water to the small intestine for body fluid balance, you also have an opportunity to gain minerals to ensure fluid balance is maintained.  Minerals such as sodium and potassium help to keep your fluids in balance, and that's why sports drinks contain them.

    Eating your water, and complementing this by drinking water as well, is a more efficient means of hydrating your body than it is simply drinking water alone. Doing this will help to keep your body functioning optimally.

    Your requirements for water will differ depending on your height, weight, gender, activity levels and lifestyle.  These factors will determine what food you need for optimal metabolism and immune function.  Eating foods high in water can help keep your fluid in balance without sparking your thirst mechanism.  Carbohydrates can also help you stay hydrated because they're stored in the body as glycogen (the way your body stores carbohydrate in your muscle for later energy useage). This is why the old school of thought that an athlete 'needs' to carbo-load before an event

    Produce is high in water content with over 80% of fruit and vegetables being water. However eating produce alone will not satisfy the other functions of your body. You need the right formula to satisfy your requirements and this needs to be personalised to you and your lifestyle.  It also needs to satisfy your blood sugars so that you don't experience dips between meals.

    Top tips for adding more water content through your food this week:

    1)    Choose NOVA Wet Carbohydrates - carbohydrates that contain more than 60% water content - root vegetables and grains that absorb fluid

    2)    Refrain from gulping water or fluid down when you are thirsty, small frequent sips before or along side your meal works best.

    3)    Coffee and tea are not ideal sources of fluid because they contain caffeine that can minimise the effect of your vitamins and minerals in your food being absorbed.

    4)    Choose to eat three types of NOVA produce at each of your main meals to get variety of nourishment and one litre of water absorbed from your meals throughout the day.

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