When reaching for a soda, sports drink or iced coffee this summer, it’s important to remember that water provides more health benefits than any other beverage. Water not only hydrates the body, but is critical for proper digestion, brain health, preventing dry skin and sinuses, and combating aches and pains. Water also helps to maintain the proper function of the heart, enables key organs to work and keeps our joints lubricated. As we embrace warmer weather and summertime activities, it’s crucial to note that we lose much more water through sweat, and need to replace those fluids.
To better understand the importance of water in the body, consider the fact that 75 percent of our body and 85 percent of our brain is comprised of water. When we lack adequate water consumption, our body prioritizes where water will go. In order to nourish our blood and facilitate digestion, the body will divert water from our joints, which is why dehydration causes bone and joint pain.
Dehydration can also lead to weight gain. Since water enables enzymes to break down food, not enough water intake can cause poor digestion and a buildup of excess stool that can’t be eliminated. This ultimately can result in constipation, lethargy and potential toxicity.
So how much water is enough?
One way to calculate adequate water intake is to divide your body weight in half and then consume that many ounces of water in a day. If you weigh 150 pounds, you should consume 75 ounces of water a day.
However, drinking too much water at once will force your body to flush it out faster and not retain the same benefits of consistent water consumption. That said, some individuals simply cannot absorb water and must urinate frequently after drinking. In these cases, we have a product we sell in our pharmacy called Hydrate2, which allows one to absorb water long enough to utilize all of its healthy properties.
Soda, coffee and other types of beverages are considered diuretics, meaning they force the body to lose water through urination. Therefore, you must drink more water to replace the loss of fluids caused by coffee or soda. The diuretic properties of tea are less clear, while some studies indicate that only highly caffeinated teas serve as a diuretic. Sport drinks are loaded with high fructose corn syrup (sweetener), making them a weaker alternative to water.
With good health in mind, make sure to always have water on hand and sip it frequently. Your body is thirsty and needs water to perform at its peak.
Steve Bernardi is a registered compounding pharmacist and co-owner of Johnson Compounding and Wellness Center in Waltham.