By MARY ANN LIENHART CROSS
Extension Educator-Health and Human Sciences, Purdue Extension Elkhart County
GOSHEN — Last week I wrote about the health concerns of drinking too much pop because of all the sugar and acid and the negative effects on the body. From the emails and phone calls I know many of you were shocked about the amount of sugar and what the acid does to your bones. Several of you wondered if sugar free or diet pop was okay and the answer is – everything in moderation. Diet pop still has all of the acid and for many people drinking diet pop only makes them thirstier and then you drink more.
The warmer weather is a time when many of us drink more fluids, so be creative and make some flavored water. The bottom line is that we all, adults and children alike, need to drink more water. I ask you this question, “What nutrient are you not getting enough of?” This nutrient is vital and most of us never get enough. People of all ages can have all kinds of serious health concerns and can die from dehydration. Other beverages and most foods help supply some of the water our bodies need. For your body’s nutrition and your healthy eating plan water is the best thirst-quencher.
Our bodies contain more water than any other nutrient, nearly 60 percent for a normal-sized adult. Considering that adult bodies are nearly two-thirds water, this means that for a 150 pound person, 90 pounds or 45 quarts are water. Each day you need to replace about 3 to 4 percent of your body’s water. Day to day weight fluctuations are due to changes in your water balance, not your fat. When you are eating healthy, exercising and working at shedding stored body fat the losing is much slower.
Water is so important to your body because it is the solvent and transporter for your substances such as nutrients, hormones, enzymes, and wastes, etc. As a building block, water fills spaces both within and between the cells. It combines chemically with other compounds such as glycogen and fat. Water is a catalyst in chemical reactions, part of many body processes constantly taking place. It is also one of the main end products of metabolism, the process whereby we obtain energy and nutrients from food.
Water is a lubricant that cushions joints. Water is also a component of tears, saliva, mucus membranes, lining, the lungs, mouth, intestines, and feces etc. Water also regulates your body temperature. Without water evaporating from lungs and skin, you could not maintain a constant body temperature. Your body really needs adequate water to maintain physical work performance. Just a four to five percent decrease in body water will result in a 20 to 30 percent decline in efficiency.
Besides water from the faucet, and all the bottled water that is drank, all the beverages we drink contain water: coffee, tea, milk, soft drinks, juices, even alcoholic beverages. Other water sources include soups and gelatins. Solid foods contain various amounts of water. A rule of thumb is, the higher the percentage of water in a food the lower the calories. Lettuce is 96 percent water in contrast with 0.5 percent in sugar. Other foods fall somewhere in between. Potatoes are 80 percent water, chicken is 63 percent and bread is 36 percent. As compared with whole milk at 87 percent water, watermelon is 93 percent.
An overlooked source of body water comes from the metabolism of energy nutrients: carbohydrates, fat, and protein. The main end products of metabolism are carbon dioxide and water. We function on about 1-3/4 to 3 quarts of water daily, with half coming from liquids that we drink. Before you’re thirsty drink water, when you’re thirsty drink water. Your body needs water so you need to drink water.