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Water as a good resolution for 2020

Elena Casiraghi, Ph.D. – Equipe Enervit
Man can survive without food for a few weeks, provided he can take liquids. Man cannot resist the lack of water for more than a few days: even in the case of complete fasting in a mild climate, there must be more than half a litre of water daily consumed. In practice, water is undoubtedly vital as well as a precious commodity. Do you want to know how much water your body loses? How to rehydrate optimally? Which mix is preferable at rest and during sports activities? Let's find out together.
New consumption trends indicate a growing interest in health, body care and physical activity. There is also a growing interest in the culturalization of food and how to eat to feel good. Specifically, in recent months, the consumption of bottled water and the impact on the environment have been at the top of the list. An undoubtedly positive trend that places greater emphasis on the quantity, quality and frequency of water intake.

The body's water loss

The body constantly loses water, although with significant differences from one day to the next. Except in pathological cases, the pathways through which these losses occur are the kidneys (the amount of urine increases when more water is taken than needed), the digestive system, the skin and the lungs (a lot of water vapor can be removed from the airways, especially at high altitudes). And there's more.

Every day the glands of the stomach and intestine (especially the first part of it) secrete a great number of liquids, on average from 7 to 10 litres; in the normal subject, however, they are reabsorbed almost entirely in the large intestine. Even at kidney level, a huge amount of urine is produced every day, reaching a total of several tens of litres. Every day the glands of the stomach and intestine (especially the first part of it) secrete a great number of liquids, on average from 7 to 10 litres; in the normal subject, however, they are reabsorbed almost entirely in the large intestine.

How much water goes in and how much water comes out?

For there to be a water balance, water losses must be balanced by water intake. A large part of the income comes not from drinks, but from food. Few foods, on the other hand, are totally dry, while among the fresh ones there are some (fruit, vegetables, meat, fishery products ...) consisting of water in percentages of over 70% or even 90%. In the body, then, from the combustion of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, it derives other water that is called endogenous (or metabolic). For every 100 g of carbohydrates used for energy purposes 55 g of water is formed; for every 100 g of lipids 107 are formed; for every 100 g of protein 41. It must be specified, however, that the latter in practice has an insignificant role in the athlete's water balance.

The thirst: why do you drink?

You drink because your body asks you to (I feel my throat is dry) or because you see someone else sipping, for example, a water bottle. Two aspects, one physiological, the other psychological, one result: you drink. Two aspects, one physiological, the other psychological, one result: you drink. Therefore, if you train at low temperatures, it is essential to drink constantly, almost anticipating thirst. This is very important, because when you feel the desire to drink abundantly, it means that the body has already lost 2% of its weight in terms of water. This can have a 10% drop in performance. Fortunately, our bodies are organized.

And to regulate water intake, it uses very efficient centers located in the hypothalamus, the structure of the central nervous system between the two cerebral hemispheres. In the cold season, it is possible to stay hydrated even by taking hot drinks such as tea and herbal teas. Among the most advantageous teas are green and white, rich in polyphenols, i.e. substances with an important antioxidant capacity. Among these, matcha tea is rich in theanine: a substance that can promote mental efficiency by increasing the perception of vigilant calm, especially during periods of greatest fatigue.

Feeling tired and exhausted?

When you sweat a lot and do a lot of physical activity in a warm environment such as indoors or in summer, water alone is not enough to rehydrate. It is also necessary to recover the main minerals that are lost through sweat such as sodium, chlorine, potassium and magnesium. The first two are vital during activity.

The advice is to take during any physical effort some effervescent tablets without sugar. If you do not have them, four grains of table salt (about 1 g) dissolved in 500-1000 ml of water may be enough to begin with. A deficiency of these minerals increases the sense of tiredness, muscle stiffness, the feeling of exhaustion and the risk of muscle cramps. Also, in the case of migraine during the day try to ask yourself before taking medication, if your daily water intake was enough.

Sodium as essential mineral for the health

Sodium is an essential mineral for the health of the human body. The body of a healthy adult contains just over 90 g concentrated in extracellular fluid, bone, connective tissue and cartilage. It is the mineral most concentrated in sweat. Followed by chlorine, potassium and magnesium. Imagine that in a liter of the sweat of an acclimatized subject there is about 1 g of sodium. In a non-acclimatized subject, on the other hand, almost 1.5 g. Recovering sodium in the case of perspiration during exercise is essential. It benefits the health of the body and the heart. If you sweat a lot and recover only water you can fall into hyponatremia, a very dangerous condition for the organism.

Dehydrated training can be beneficial?

There are some concepts in the science of sports nutrition that are now clear and secure fundamentals. Every athlete, in fact, knows the importance of starting a well-hydrated training session and to maintain - as far as possible - this state even during the session itself. Hydration, on the other hand, is valuable for protecting the health and reducing muscle fatigue. Yet, despite this knowledge, there are some unscientific indications that dehydrated training can be beneficial to prepare the body for thirst and stress during future competitions. But is that so?

Unfortunately not. Training dehydrated and not taking care of the restoration of water and minerals (especially sodium, chlorine, potassium and magnesium), in addition to endangering health, reduces the adaptation of training stimuli. In fact, for the body to respond to the training objective in the best possible way, it is necessary that there is no geometric alteration of the cell membrane. Cells, in fact, once they lose water and minerals, tend to change their shape. Exactly like a balloon, first inflated and then deflated. That's not all. Dehydration stimulates muscle catabolism, faster depletion of glycogen reserves and increases levels of cortisol, the hormone known to be responsible for stress.

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