"We are born to be fit, strong, and healthy." Robb Wolf

June 06, 2011

Here is the continuation from Part 1.

So in Part 1 we discussed the body's composition with regards to water. Also, dehydration and how it can affect performance.

Many people detest the taste of water. Or even the lack of taste. A very easy solution to this problem... slice up some fruit and let it sit in the water container. Pour yourself a glass of water and enjoy! Another way is to enjoy a cup of tea. Some people are concerned with the caffeine content in some teas because caffeine has been found to exert diuretic effects. But it has been proven that the diuretic effect has little impact on the excretion of water.

Other than drinking water, is there any other way to get water in my diet?
Most foods found contain some amount of water. Most water will be found in fruit and vegetables. Up to 20% of daily fluid requirements can be ingested as food. Some foods to focus on can be found here. Fruit and vegetables are made up of almost 90% water and many other foods, like meat and cheese, contain approximately 50% water.

What happens if I drink too much water?
Ingesting too much water can result in a condition known as hyponatremia. This can be and is a very serious medical emergency. Hyponatremia is also known as water intoxication. By drinking too much water, it decreases the blood serum concentration of sodium. This is becoming more prevalent in beginners competing in endurance events. This is further propagated by the athlete sweating. This sodium loss causes a decrease in the amount of blood volume. This decrease sends a signal to the pituitary gland, located in the brain, to release a hormone known as antidiuretic hormone (ADH). ADH stimulates the kidneys to retain water. As water gets retained, this further dilutes the sodium concentration of the blood, worsening hyponatremia.

How can I tell if I am suffering from hyponatremia?
Some of the signs and symptoms of hyponatremia include:
Nausea/vomiting; Headache; Confusion; Lethargy/fatigue; Loss of appetite; Muscle weakness/cramps/spasms; Loss of coordination; Seizures; Decreased level of consciousness/coma

How do I prevent hyponatremia?
Preplanning is important in avoiding hyponatremia. Training in the conditions that you will be exposed to is vital. This will help acclimatize your body to the environment and allow it to utilize essential minerals and nutrients in a more efficient way. Some options for prevention include:

- increasing sodium intake a few days prior to the event
- consume sports drinks that contain essential minerals (including sodium)
- try not to drink more than what you sweat

Ideally, drink no more than 1 cup (250mL) of water every 20 minutes.

The body is made to use water for a variety of functions. Like everything we encounter in our lives... too much of a good thing can be bad. So drink water in moderation to stay hydrated and avoid hyponatremia.