Self preservation extends beyond your gear and into how you take care of your body. Regardless of the kit to which you have access, your body will always be a “tool” you can use to better your survival. Keeping your body primed for action and your mind acute involves proper diet and regular exercise. However, in that diet, the food you consume is only part of what you must intake to keep your body healthy. Hydration is the other half of that equation.
Each tissue in the body is comprised of one or more different types of cells. Cell types can differ wildly in structure and function, but one thing every human cell has in common is that a large percentage of its composition is water. Overall, the human body contains over 70% water. How much water you need to intake every day will differ from person to person depending on environment, diet, and level of physical activity. It makes sense that, the more you sweat, the more water you need to replace. So, people in hot locales, and those exceptionally active will need to intake more than those in cooler environs or who are less physically active. On average, though, the body needs about 2.5L (over half a gallon) per day to replace what it loses through evaporation and waste.
Dehydration – Indicators
A good, albeit gross, indicator of your level of hydration is the condition of your urine. In order to remove wastes from the body, the kidneys and liver process the waste byproducts of normal cellular function (nitrogenous wastes) and any bodily toxins and release them in urine. In well-hydrated individuals, the fluid is nearly clear and not particularly odorous. Bacteria flushed in the liquid waste break down the nitrogenous waste and it becomes ammonia, which gives urine its pungent scent. Without enough water to dilute these bodily toxins, the odor is more pronounced. The yellow tint of urine also becomes darker as the solution of nitrogenous wastes becomes more concentrated with increased water deficiency.
Dehydration – Consequences
Without properly hydrating your system, the toxins that are normally expelled during urination remain in your body. Some of them crystallize in your kidneys and form kidney stones. Eventually, these stones begin to work their way down through the urinary system with the regular liquid waste. The problem is that the urinary system is not designed to pass solid matter, so passing a kidney stone is excruciating. This is a long term consequence of regular dehydration. However, discomfort of not drinking enough water begins to take its toll on your system right away, causing dizziness, fatigue, headache, and confusion. In extreme circumstances of zero (or next to zero) water intake, for more than a couple of days causes death. Because the balance of water within your system is so important to brain and body chemistry for all cellular function, not drinking enough can become a big problem, quickly.
In order for your body to process toxins – not just from your environment, but also the nitrogenous wastes that result from normal cellular function, and to retain normal cellular chemistry, hydrating properly is a huge part of a healthy diet. With regular hydration, chemical processes operate efficiently, allowing your body to better withstand its environment, and even allowing you to think more clearly. To best prepare yourself for survival situations, and just to stay healthy, hydration is key.
Photo courtesy of sacramentoready.org
Destinee is also a vlogger. She publishes videos on weapons, gear, and fitness on her YouTube channel every Tuesday and Thursday.
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