We all know that water makes up most of our body weight and is essential for life. We don’t just get water from drinking, it also comes from the food we eat.1 Water is a vital nutrient: it transports other nutrients throughout the body and exchanges wastes. It also helps to regulate body temperature, lubricate your joints, creates saliva and mucus secretions, and assists your body with absorbing shock, especially during walking or running.2 This makes water all the more important when it comes to athletics.
When you are dehydrated, it has an effect on both your physical and mental performance. During athletic events, it is not uncommon for athletes to sweat away enough water to become dehydrated. Athletes sometimes lose out on performance as a result, with reduced endurance, increased fatigue, and less motivation. This can come from as little as 2% dehydration in the body.1 Fortunately, rehydration can reverse most of these difficulties.1 It is important to keep in mind that athletes, especially at the beginning of a season, are more prone to dehydration: they need to adapt to new weather conditions (especially if they are training in locations where the seasons change) and adjust to an increase in their activity level after the off-season.1
When it comes to children participating in athletics, they may be at greater risk of dehydration. This is because they often forget to consume enough water to replenish their fluids over the course of their physical activity.1
Whether or not you’re an athlete, even mild levels of dehydration can have an impact on your mood, concentration, alertness, and short-term memory.1 Just like with physical performance, replenishing fluids can help improve and reverse those temporary mental setbacks.1 Good hydration is also associated with other health benefits, which include reducing the risk of urinary tract infections, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Proper hydration has even been shown to help with weight loss.1,3,4
According to Canada’s Food guide, there are lots of ways the body can become hydrated, so there is no specific requirement for how much food and drink will get your hydration levels in check.5 For those who are very active or exposed to hot environments, they need more water than the average person.
Some simple things to keep in mind to help maximize hydration5:
- Vegetables and fruits contain lots of water. When you play sports, these healthy snacks will keep you hydrated on and off the field.
- Drink water with all your meals. Try to replace soft drinks and fruit juices with glasses of water.
- Carry a water bottle with you at work, school, or when running errands to keep it top of mind.
- Say yes to water when eating out, even if you’re ordering another drink.
- Add lemon, lime, orange, or cucumber slices to your water to add flavour and keep you motivated to drink more.
Speak to your chiropractor for more information on the importance of hydration and for additional tips!
- Popkin BM, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, hydration, and health. Nutr Rev. 2010; 68(8): 439-58. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x.
- Jéquier E, Constant F. Water as an essential nutriment: The physiological basis of hydration. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010; 65: 877. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2011.41.
- Stookey JD, Constant F, Popkin BM, Gardner CD. Drinking water is associated with weight loss in overweight dieting women independent of diet and activity. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008; 16(11): 2481-8. doi: 10.1038/oby.2008.409.
- Van Walleghen EL, Orr JS, Gentile CL, Davy BM. Pre-meal water consumption reduces meal energy intake in older but not younger subjects. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007; 15(1): 93-9.
- Health Canada. Questions and Answers for Educators: Canada’s Food Guide. Available from: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/educ-comm/faq_educat-eng.php. Accessed January 11, 2017.