October 11, 2015 | John Paul Catanzaro
If you’re a law enforcement officer, proper hydration is imperative. Even a slight state of dehydration can “impair” your ability to think and perform.
Dehydration can occur in less than 10 minutes and may cause muscle cramps, unnecessary fatigue, diminished strength, and can affect your performance under fire. Even at 1% dehydration, you lose much of your fine and complex motor skills.
Many times if you’re thirsty, you’re already in a state of dehydration. A simple way to gauge your water intake is by the color of your urine: if it’s clear, you’re probably taking in enough water, but if it’s dark and cloudy, you should increase your water intake.
In general, you need to consume at least half your body weight in ounces of water a day, and the more diuretics you consume in the form of coffee, tea or alcohol, the more water you need.
Also, the more you sweat, the more water you need to consume. Police officers are chronically dehydrated due to the uniforms they wear. The body armor does not breathe and it’s worn in a nylon carrier, which means it can get pretty hot and sweaty in there!
The bottom line is that if you weigh 200 pounds, you need to take in at least 100 ounces or roughly 12 glasses of water a day. It takes discipline to drink that much water daily, but it can make a big difference in your energy levels and performance.
A good strategy is to fill your bottles first. For example, 12 glasses of water is equivalent to three 1-liter bottles. Put these out on the counter first thing in the morning as your quota for the day. A simple way to accomplish the task is to drink a liter in the morning, a liter in the afternoon, and a liter in the evening.
That takes care of the quantity of water you should consume daily, next comes the quality…
The type of water you consume is very important. On one side of the coin you have tap water, which is loaded with chemicals, such as chlorine, fluoride, estrogen, and so on. On the other side of the coin is distilled water, which can leach minerals from the body. It’s best to use either filtered tap water or bottled spring water.
Your water should contain at least 300 ppm (which is equivalent to 300 mg/L) of total dissolved solids. If the label on the bottle displays a lower number or you’re using filtered water, then you can increase the mineral content by simply adding a pinch of sea salt.
You may not realize that only 1% of water in the world is actually drinkable by humans. Anything you find in the medicine cabinet can be found in the drinking water supply. And bottled water is no better – only 10% of it can come from the original source, the rest is city water!
Not only can you and should you filter water to remove chemicals, but you can also purchase a special filter to make water more alkaline, the way it was thousands of years ago… or you can save some money and simply squeeze fresh lemon into the water. Although a lemon may seem acidic on the outside, inside the body it has an alkalizing effect. This will reduce acidity, improve digestion, and add flavor to the water. This practice alone will increase energy levels in a matter of days. Pure water filters out 98% of the toxins, but it doesn’t make water alkaline.
Also, avoid cloudy plastic bottles as they leach chemicals into the water. Clear plastic is a step in the right direction, stainless steel is better, and glass is the best. If you’re drinking water from a plastic bottle and it tastes like plastic, spit it out and don’t drink that water! If you finish the bottle, you’ll consume a whopping dose of estrogen (refer to You Are What You Eat for more information).
At home or at the office, use filtered water stored in a glass pitcher at room temperature. Contrary to popular belief, cold water can actually hinder absorption, room temperature is best. Remember to squeeze some lemon and add a pinch of sea salt for best effect.
Water is the most overlooked nutrient. It’s both anabolic and anticatabolic, and it enables chemical reactions to occur. Water dissolves substances, lubricates processes, regulates body temperature (i.e., perspiration cools the body), transports nutrients, removes waste products, and body cells are composed of mostly water.
Fact is, water forms the greatest component of the human body making up 50-60% of its weight. Lean muscle tissue contains about 73% water and fat is about 20% water. Depending on how much fat has been stored, an adult can survive for roughly 8 weeks without eating food but only a few days without drinking water.
Consider this: we start off in life at around 85% of the body made up of water, but by the time we die in our old age the body is only 50% water. When water stores are dropping, it indicates something is wrong. That usually means that we’re breaking down muscle tissue.
Another way to look at it is that lean body tissue is high in water; therefore, a loss of water means a loss of muscle. When the loss of body protein exceeds 30%, survival drops to about 20%.
Again, what’s more important than water? You die after three days without it! The best suggestion for all officers is to stay comfortably hydrated and drink water as you lose it.