WATER – THE “FORGOTTEN” NUTRIENT

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“DRINK WATER, DRINK WATER, DRINK WATER”

In the quest to reach one’s goals, fitness enthusiasts focus on their fat, protein and carbohydrate intakes yet often miss the importance of water for exercise performance and overall health. An average adult loses about 2 to 3 litres of water per day through excretion of body wastes and sweat. Water contains dissolved salts. These salts control the circulation of water in the body. When we consume little water our body gets dehydrated and the salts become resolute and the water is drawns from the cells in an effort to dilute it and this affects the performance of the kidneys. The kidneys must send out of a minimum of 10 ounces a day to eliminate poisonous waste materials.

Researchers suggest that while most are aware of the importance of hydrating and the effect on fatigue and physical comfort, most are not aware of the effect on “brain performance.” We tend to push hydration, but not in a routine fashion. Many times an athlete will not feel the necessity to take in water, even during “time-outs” or so called “water breaks.” Perhaps we should direct water intake to become more of a rhythm / routine operation so that the athlete is directed to take in water at proper or dedicated intervals, whether or not he or she feels the desire. During timeouts, athletes, too often, are eager to get back to play and thus overlook drinking and sipping water. The younger the athlete, the more this behavior is probable. What is the old saying? “You can lead a horse to water, etc.” All the more reason that coaches, trainers, etc. should be more precise in seeing that the athletes take water.

The importance of hydration and the intake of water has been known for just about as long as history has been recorded. But its relevance has gone through a variety of cycles. We’ve used water to cool us down (an external application). In boxing, water is often splattered on the face between rounds. At the same time, water is swished in the mouth and then spat out with a bit, perhaps, swallowed.

When one teaches nutrition we teach the relevance of protein to growth; the importance of carbohydrate to energy; the value of fats to both. We teach the functions of vitamins and minerals. We do all of this under the umbrella of “nutrition”. If we do not get enough of certain minerals, we can get muscle cramping among all other concerns. If we do not get enough protein we may stunt growth and repair. If we do not get enough carbohydrates we may feel fatigue. The body’s thirst mechanism is a good indicator for hydrating the body. However, those interested in maximum performance should consider drinking fluids before thrists sets in, particularly in hot climates and when training. 

There is no need to allow “dehydration” to exist. Consider that dehydration has already begun by the time the thirst mechanism is activated. 

Why not give water the same depth of coverage as the other nutrients when teaching “nutrition”?

Let us not allow water to become a “forgotten nutrient”.

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