Water: It Is What Your Body Needs

Enjoying warm summer days is thirsty work. Although sodas, juices, and sports drinks vie for attention, there are reasons to reach for water to quench your thirst.

With Memorial Day and the official start of summer in sight, we are making plans for days at the beach, on the trail, and at recreational sporting events. Some may even be planning to walk or complete in the Minnesota Marathon or another summer run sponsored by Summit Orthopedics. Whatever you plan under the sun, be sure to bring along the water you need to stay hydrated and healthy.

Every cell and system in our body needs water to function; water, after all, makes up two-thirds of our body’s weight. Water protects our joints and keeps them lubricated. It facilitates the flow of blood through our body and the processing and removal of waste products. When we become dehydrated, our body isn’t able to operate as efficiently, and we may develop headaches or muscle cramps.

There are lots of liquid options available, including sodas, juices, and flavored sports drinks, but there are a number of reasons to choose water first.

  • Juices, sodas, and sports drinks deliver unnecessary calories. Sports drinks alone can contain up to 150 calories; the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar.
  • Drinks sweetened with sugar can slow the absorption of water into the bloodstream.
  • Flavored, sweetened drinks may taste better, but they are also more expensive, and their cost does not necessarily reflect additional health benefit.

The prevailing wisdom advises us to drink before we are thirsty, with one caution to marathon athletes. When runners drink too much water before and during a competition, overhydration, or hyponatremia, can become a dangerous problem that has caused more than 1,600 marathoners to become critically ill, and caused the death of a healthy 28-year-old woman running in the 2002 Boston Marathon. Hyponatremia occurs when there is too little sodium in the blood as the result of drinking too much fluid before and during a marathon. Researchers have found that despite sports drink claims to replenish electrolytes like sodium and potassium, hyponatremia is as likely to affect marathon runners drinking sports drinks as it is to affect runners drinking water.

For most of us, thirst is a good guide to hydration as we go about our summer plans. When you feel tired during the day, a glass of water might be all you need to re-energize your day, and can be just the thing to stave off early signs of a headache. For active athletes, muscle cramps may be a sign that you need hydration and more electrolytes; in that situation, a sports drink may be helpful.

Tuck a few bottles of water in with your sunscreen and sunglasses before you take off to enjoy warm-weather plans. If you feel bored with unflavored water, you can add a little zing with a lemon or lime wedge, orange or cucumber slices, a watermelon cube, or a sprig of mint or another favorite herb. Here’s to staying hydrated and healthy this summer.

Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive sports medicine expertise

From Olympians to pro athletes to kids in youth sports and those that just want to be more active—Summit Orthopedics delivers expert care by fellowship-trained sports medicine physicians. If you are recently injured or concerned about ongoing pain, Summit Orthopedics sports medicine specialists have the expertise to evaluate your discomfort and develop a plan to quickly and safely help you get back to being active.

Start your journey to stronger, healthier athletic condition. Find your sports medicine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a sports medicine consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNVadnais Heights, MN, Plymouth, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as several additional community clinics.

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