I know, you have heard it before – drink plenty of water. You may think, how boring. This is sound advice, yet how many of us consciously pay attention to the amount of water we drink each day? Do you know if you are getting enough?
When we think of dehydration, we visualize someone collapsing due to sun exposure or from heat exhaustion after vigorous physical activity. But in actuality, dehydration is an insidious condition that can creep up on a person unaware. You may be dehydrated and not even realize it. Thirst or a dry mouth does not show up until the body is actually dehydrated. When we are dehydrated the thirst sensation diminishes and we may be seriously in need of fluid and not even be thirsty.
Over the past few days, you may have been like me; low energy, a little irritable and just not as focused as you would like to feel. Science tells us that these are all markers of mild dehydration. By the time we are actually aware that we are thirsty, attention, memory and mental performance have deteriorated by as much as 10%. Doctors advise us that as we age our body’s ability to convey a sense of thirst diminishes, so dehydration is a frequent problem in older persons.
Men with prostate problems or persons with bladder control issues often try to manage frequent urination by drinking less fluid. This can be a dangerous mistake. If we fail to provide our system with enough water we are literally poisoning ourselves with our own waste.
Dehydration occurs when the body loses water faster than it is being replaced. The body normally loses between a half gallon to a gallon of water each day through our breath, perspiration, bowel movements and urination. This amount is dramatically increased by a raise in body temperature and or by exercising strenuously.
Virtually every system in our body requires hydration. Without sufficient water, our bodies do not function optimally. Water is the principle chemical component in the human body and accounts for 60-75% of our bodies weight. Most humans are about 25% solids and 75% water. That is rather remarkable when you think about it. Our brains, blood, muscles and lungs all contain water. The brain is said to be 85% water.
The body utilizes water to regulate temperature, transport nutrients and flush toxins and waste from vital organs. Water is also necessary to maintaining a moist environment for the ear, eye, nose and throat tissue. Water lubricates our joints. Next to oxygen, water is the second most important element needed to support life. We can go for weeks without food but a person can’t survive for more than a few days without life-giving water.
Deprive the body of adequate hydration and all kinds of unpleasant symptoms show up; repeated urinary infections, nose bleeds, unproductive hacking coughs, sinus pressure, constant sneezing, headaches and constipation. Dry and itchy skin, chronic joint or muscle pain, fatigue and hair loss are all signs of prolonged mild dehydration. Scientific studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle combined with a lack of hydration is one of the major contributing factors in the formation of kidney stones. Just the thought of passing a kidney stone has me reaching for my water glass.
Prolonged mild dehydration also leads to weight gain, loss of muscle mass, chronic digestive upsets, fluid retention, acne, dull skin, excessive wrinkles, baldness and bad breath; totally unattractive qualities. Yuck! Drinking more water is actually a fine beauty treatment and compared with all the lotions and potions, I really like the price.
I wonder how many people endure many of these symptoms, or attempt to treat them with drugs or diet, when the problem may simply be a lack of water. Water heals!
How much water should you drink each day? – It would seem like a a simple question, but there are no pat answers. Medical studies have produced varying recommendations; however, your hydration needs are dependent on several factors. Your overall health, how physically active you are and the climate you inhabit all affect how much water your body requires.
There isn’t a single formula that fits everyone. Many medical professionals suggest you drink 50% of your body weight in ounces of water. If you are very active or in a dry climate, it is suggested that you up that about to 75% of your body weight in ounces of water. For every 25 pounds that a person is over their ideal weight, it is suggested that an additional 8 ounces be added to the daily consumption.
If you are aware of your body’s need for fluids and how a shortage makes you feel, you will be more likely to pay attention to your body’s signals. If adequately hydrated, urine output will be colorless or pale yellow in color. Urine that is a strong color or has a strong odor is an indication that the body is lacking in the amount of water needed to flush toxins and function properly.
We obtain needed fluids from more than just the water we drink. All beverages including milk, sodas, juice, coffee, tea or energy drinks contain water. However, many drink products contain high levels of caffeine which dehydrate. Alcoholic drinks also require additional water to process. If one drinks alcohol, it is a good idea to drink an offsetting amount of water. Medical experts say that sodas, alcohol and caffeine drinks should not be considered in our daily water requirements as many of them deplete more fluid than they add to our systems. To truly meet your water requirement, natural water is the drink of choice as water has no caffeine, fat or calories and is inexpensive and readily available.
Water is most abundant in many of the foods we eat. Think about biting into a ripe, juicy orange and how the liquid runs down your chin. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a prime source of water. Cucumbers, watermelons and grapes are almost totally made up of water. For most people, water in food contributes about 20% of the water we ingest daily.
I have tried to find ways to incorporate more water into my daily routine. What are your suggestions?
For optimum health, consider how much water you drink. For a healthier, leaner body, I know I want more ~ cool, clear water.