Water: Its Good for You

Danna F. Gillett  |  8/23/2011 11:19:22 PM

With the continuing hot temperatures and lack of rainfall, everyone seems to be focusing on water. Lack of adequate moisture, whether rain or a glass of water, can cause serious problems for all living organisms, especially humans. Just like your garden, pets and livestock, you need an adequate supply of water for good health. It helps your body to:

    · Protect your organs and tissue.
    · Regulate your body temperature.
    · Lubricate your joints. 
    · Flush out waste products to lessen the burden on the kidneys and the liver. 
    · Dissolve nutrients so they can be carried to the cells.
    · Prevent constipation.

Water makes up 60 percent of your body. Our bodies lose water through breathing, perspiration, urine, and bowel movements. Fluid needs vary from individual to individual, but most people need 6-12 cups per day. The Institute of Medicine advises men to drink 13 cups and women 9 cups of fluid per day. Although the 2010 Dietary Guideline for Americans recommends that we consume more water, other beverages and some foods can help us consume the fluids we need. Fruit and vegetables, as well as soups, gelatin and pudding, can contribute to our daily fluid intake.

A lack of adequate water intake can lead to dehydration. Even mild dehydration can reduce your energy level and make you feel tired. Because you do not get thirsty until your body is already slightly dehydrated, thirst is not a good sign that you need water. Small percentages of dehydration (5-6 percent) can cause lethargy and an increased heart rate, while 7-9 percent could cause low blood pressure and even result in a coma. Other symptoms of dehydration may include weight loss, dry mouth and tongue, sunken eyes, and decreased urination.

Older adults are at special risk of dehydration with up to one-third not getting enough fluids. They tend to have less body water than younger adults and their kidneys may function less efficiently. Older adults may not realize they are thirsty if they have a decreased thirst sensation. Reduced mobility or in increase in confusion can limit their fluid intake. Medications such as diuretics and laxatives can result in excessive fluid loss. To prevent dehydration in older adults, remind them to drink by providing favorite fluids during and between meals. Throughout the day, keep fluids nearby and offer them frequently. Watch for poor fluid intake and symptom of dehydration.

Danna Gillett is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for Richland Parish.

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