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The Power of Hydration

What effect does dehydration have on performance?

So you want to perform at your peak? You want to be mentally and physically sharp throughout the day? You want to be creative and productive and energized?

Many people say they want this, yet they deplete their bodies of the very "fuel" that makes this possible. Many rather have sodas, coffee, etc., rather than a glass of water.

Most people drink frighteningly small amounts of water (many drink a lot of other, not so healthy, fluids.) This is hardly a coincidence. Although there is more to healing and peak performance than drinking water, hydrating the body is a very important and ever so easy step.

Studies have suggested that the average American is dehydrated. As much as 75% of the population may be chronically dehydrated.

While scientists argue whether these statistics are true or not, and how much water a person really needs, what we can agree on is that the thirst signal weakens as we age.

We also know that the more dehydrated we become, the more our thirst signals weakens. When you start drinking more, you start feeling thirstier more often – you are awakening the thirst signal.

If you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. Thirst is never a measure of adequate hydration.

Water is the medium through which all of our cells communicate with each other. It is how the immune system monitors the body for invaders or imbalances and how it knows where to send its "troops" when the body is under threat; all done without our conscious awareness of what is happening. Water makes it possible for the autonomic nervous system, and its two branches, to maintain equilibrium in the body.

Every cell in our body becomes aware when there is even the slightest water shortage. In response, the cells change from a state of optimal function to a state of conservation.

Our tendency to substitute water for sodas, coffee, juices, etc. adds to the problem. Sodas create a bigger problem than merely the dehydration factor. They are also highly acidic and water is needed simply to restore pH balance, or the body will take from its calcium reserves (the bones) to maintain equilibrium.

The dehydrating effect of caffeine is still being debated, but people who drink coffee tend to do so instead of drinking water (even instead of eating food sometimes), rather than in addition to it.

Most health practitioners, nutritionist, sports-trainers, athletes, singers, peak performers, etc., agree that drinking more than our thirst tells us is of absolute necessity for optimal performance.

Water carries nutrients to our cells, aids digestion by forming stomach secretions, flushes our bodies of wastes, and keeps our kidneys healthy.

The kidneys control the concentration levels of bodily fluids and the balance of electrolytes. They are responsible for removing excess hormones, vitamins, minerals, and foreign toxins such as drugs, chemicals, and food additives. They get rid of the waste products from protein metabolism - uric acid, urea, and lactic acid - but they need lots of water to accomplish this.

Research has suggested that women who stay adequately hydrated reduce their risk of breast cancer by 79 percent.

Gastrointestinal problems have been shown to be connected with water shortage. Hydration can help prevent chronic joint diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis because water reduces inflammation and promotes cartilage health.

Airplanes are probably the most dehydrating forms of transportation. Athletes and singers drink copious amounts of water when flying (as should everyone). Jet lag worsens with dehydration. Conversely, keeping the body hydrated when flying is one way to diminish the effect of jet lag.

So how much is enough?

The answer is that it depends. The measuring stick is always to have clear and odourless urine throughout the day (except for early morning).

The bottom line is this:

If you want to heal illness, you need to hydrate.
If you want to prevent illness, you need to hydrate.
If you want optimal performance, you need to hydrate.

Written by Per Bristow (Professional Coach)

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