Water - Staying Hydrated

by Jeannie Dalmas

We hear a lot about what we should eat to stay healthy, but there's one thing we need even more than food each day and that's water. Every part of your body needs water to work properly. Water is important because your body uses it for so many jobs: it helps get rid of waste, lubricates joints, helps make up blood, sweat, tears, and saliva, and regulates your body temperature.

Some people say, "I don't need water because I'm not thirsty". That's because thirst can be slow to develop. Often we don't feel thirst even when our bodies need fluid. We often confuse thirst with hunger too. Sometimes when you think your body is asking for food, what it really needs is water. This is why it's a good habit to drink water regularly whether you feel thirsty or not. Most of us need between 1.5 - 2.5 litres each day. But if the weather is hot or you are exercising, (i.e. racing, or in the pits) you need more water (remember you're near black, heat absorbing, asphalt effecting the heat index).

In such hot climates, the body depends mainly upon sweating to keep it cool, and water intake must be maintained to allow sweating to continue, thereby preventing heat exhaustion. Also keep in mind that a person who has suffered one heat injury becomes even more succeptible to suffering another. You need to drink cool water (50 55 degrees F); it's absorbed faster than cold water. Drink small qualities frequently and sip liquids rather than gulp.

The body can lose more than a quart of water per hour through sweat. Lost fluids must be replace quickly on race day. Drink an 8-ounce electrolyte drink (Gatorade, Powerade, and so on) every quarter-hour, a quart an hour, two gallons during a race day!. Drink lots of liquids, the lighter the urine color, the better hydrated you are. (If your urine is dark yellow, you are not drinking enough water!) If you perspire more than others do, drink as much fluids as you can during hot, humid days. Snack on salty foods and eat all meals to replace salt. Do NOT take salt tablets. They are concentrated and will draw water away from the body into the stomach and cause further dehydration.

Careful with the pitmate that says "I don't need water because I drink a lot of coffee and tea". Tea and coffee aren't good substitutes for water both these drinks contain caffeine, which makes your body lose fluid. Alcohol or carbonated beverages with caffeine will also speed up fluid loss. That means cut down on the soda!

So drink your water and electrolyte beverages and stay hydrated!

# # #