Q: My friends tell me that I should drink a lot more water this summer when I exercise with my kids. How much water is enough?
A: On average, a person should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of pure water every day. However, the overweight person needs one additional glass for every 25 pounds of excess weight. The amount you drink should also be increased this summer if you exercise briskly, if the weather is hot and dry, and if you sweat a lot.
Certain drinks like coffee, tea, cola and alcohol actually increase your need for water. So don’t count these beverages as part of your water intake.
It’s also important that you drink purified water. Pueblo’s Board of Water Works warns that municipal drinking water (both tap and bottled water) can be contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, industrial pollutants, microbial contaminants, heavy metals like lead, fluoride, and in some cases radioactive material. Our Water Board goes on to state that the microbial pathogen cryptosporidium has been found in the Arkansas River in the past. Reverse osmosis systems, sold in many local stores, provide an inexpensive drinkable water supply. Adding small amounts of sea salt can be beneficial (90 essential minerals are present in sea salt, and the mineral content in sea salt holds more of the water you drink within your body). One tablespoon per gallon of water is ideal.
Q: What are the symptoms I can look for to know if I am dehydrated?
A: The number one symptom of dehydration is fatigue, followed by loss of flexibility, swelling, headache, constipation, skin rashes, and other toxic overloads that manifest in other named conditions.
Thirst is the traditional way we remember to drink water. But this is a problem, since our thirst center in the brain does not send us a message until we already have significant stress from dehydration. If your urine output is diminished, you’re beginning to dehydrate. Most people are chronically dehydrated, especially after the age of 50. If you’re not urinating at least six to eight times each day, you may be dehydrated. Your urine should be clear. If your urine is yellow, it probably means you need more water.
If you’re dehydrated, just drinking a glass of water won’t solve the problem. Complete water replacement may take 24 to 48 hours no matter how much you drink at one time.
Drinking enough water is also the best treatment for fluid retention. When the body is dehydrated, it perceives this as a threat to survival and begins to hold on to every drop. Water is stored in extra cellular spaces (outside the cells), and this shows up as swollen feet, legs and hands.
Q: What are the benefits of swimming?
A: Swimming is a natural form of recovery from our long winters in Pueblo! (All of us are athletes, only some of us are in training and some are not.) The advantages of regular enjoyable swimming are the aerobic benefits (cardiovascular efficiency), improved digestion/bowel function, improved sleep and relaxation responses, the release of opioids into the bloodstream (e.g. the loveliest mood enhancer, serotonin), and improvement of bone density (important for post-menopausal women, especially).
Dr. Scott Cuthbert is a chiropractor at Chiropractic Health Center in Pueblo, Colorado, as well as the author of two textbooks and multiple research articles. ChiropracticHealthCenterPueblo.com.