The Fourth Pillar of Good Health

Three down and two to go! Last week we talked about sleep and its importance in so many of our body's systems. Hydration will be this week's topic.

It is safe to assume that we all know that we need to drink water during the day. Do you know why it is so important? Or how much water you should be drinking? Or how to tell if you have had enough water today? Today is the day that you get answers to some of those questions!

Let's start with why water is so important for us. Not many people understand just how far-reaching the impact of water has on our overall health. I keep coming across the same quote from a Registered Dietician named Lisa Drayer. She summarizes the importance of hydration by saying "Water regulates our body temperature, keeps our joints lubricated, helps prevent infections and delivers nutrients to our cells. Additionally, our kidneys and liver work hard to get rid of toxins in our bodies, and they depend on water to do their job." Nailed it! This quote very succinctly sums up the role that water plays in overall health. Did you know that it did all of that? I would be willing to bet most of us are unaware. If you knew that you would probably choose water as your drink more often!

Do you know how to tell if you are well hydrated? You would think after all these years of scientific development that there would be a simple test. Well... There is a simple test but it is not very scientific. The good news is that you don't need any testing kit or special equipment. The bad news is that you have to look in the toilet to find your answer! It is the same test that we have been using for years. The color of your urine will give you the information that you need. Is your urine the color of apple juice? You need to drink more fluids! If it is the color of water or lemonade, then you are in the clear. (Do you see what I did there?) In all seriousness, the closer the color is to apple juice the more fluids you need to consume. The next time you use the restroom, take a look in the toilet and adjust your fluid intake accordingly.

Earlier we asked just how much water should we be drinking in one day. The standard answer (for at least as long as I can remember) is eight 8 oz glasses. That's 64 oz throughout the day. The current recommendation from the National Academies of Medicine is that women drink "11 cups of fluids per day" and men should consume "16 cups of fluids per day." This makes the previous recommendation of 64 oz of water seem insufficient, however, the choice of the word "fluids" is important to pay attention to. The "fluids" can come from other sources aside from water. Fluids can be part of the food that we eat (think fruits and vegetables) and according to this recommendation can include coffee and tea (which is a bit of a change from what I have been saying over the past several years). I would still caution you to remember that both coffee and teas still act as a diuretic, meaning they will cause you to urinate more frequently and may not be as good at maintaining your hydration levels. Additionally, the recommendation to avoid sodas, fruit juices, energy drinks, vitamin waters, and other sugary drinks remains unchanged.

You have finally reached the end of this newsletter. Now get up and grab a drink of water! 

 Movement is my medicine,

Dr. William "Chip" Bleam

Dr. William "Chip" Bleam


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