The adult body is estimated to be 60-70% water. It is a primary component in all of our bodily fluids as well as a significant portion of our muscles, lungs, and even our brains. Water plays an integral role in the proper functioning of all bodily systems – from regulating our blood pressure and body temperature to clearing out debris that accumulates in our blood and lymph to aiding in proper digestion and assimilation to protecting our joints and organs. Yet most of us take water for granted.
Do you experience (though not limited to):
- dry, sticky mouth
- fatigue, lack of energy, tiredness, sluggishness
- loss of appetite OR increased appetite (cravings)
- decreased urine output
- few or no tears when crying, lack of sweating
- dry skin, eczema, wrinkles
- headache, dizziness or lightheadedness
- constipation, digestive issues, stomach issues
- confusion, irritation, mood swings
- muscle cramps, aches and pains
- high blood pressure, high cholesterol
You may be dehydrated!
Many of us suffer from chronic, low-grade dehydration and don’t even realize it, often not attributing our symptoms with that of a lack of water. Water is essential for all life… AND a delicate balance of minerals, electrolytes and essential fatty acids are also needed to properly utilize the water we ingest for these bodily processes.
You should be starting to see that good hydration is essential to good health. Experience Life did a great piece on hydration back in their June 2010 edition.
Following are various explanations of why water is such an important nutrient for optimal body function:
Energy: Suboptimal hydration slows the activity of enzymes, including those responsible for producing energy, leading to feelings of fatigue. Even a slight reduction in hydration can lower metabolism and reduce your ability to exercise efficiently.
Digestion: Our bodies produce an average of 7 liters of digestive juices daily. When we don’t drink enough liquid, our secretions are more limited and the digestive process is inhibited. If we don’t get that water, we don’t secrete enough digestive juices, and a variety of problems – such as gas, bloating, nausea, poor digestion and loss of appetite – can ensue. (Note that drinking too much water all at once, particularly with food, can also dilute digestive juices, reducing their efficacy and leading to indigestion.)
Regularity: As partially digested food passes through the colon, the colon absorbs excess liquid and transfers it to the bloodstream so that a stool of normal consistency is formed. When the body is low on water, it extracts too much liquid from the stool, which then becomes hard, dry and difficult to eliminate. Slowed elimination contributes to bodywide toxicity and inflammation.
Blood Pressure: When we are chronically dehydrated, our blood becomes thicker and more viscous. Additionally, in response to reduced overall blood volume, the blood vessels contract. To compensate for the increased vein-wall tension and increased blood viscosity, the body must work harder to push blood through the veins, resulting in elevated blood pressure.
Stomach Health: Under normal circumstances, the stomach secretes a layer of mucus (which is composed of 98 percent water) to prevent its mucus membranes from being destroyed by the highly acidic digestive fluid it produces. Chronic dehydration, though, impedes mucus production and may irritate and produce ulcers in the stomach lining.
Respiration: The moist mucus membranes in the respiratory region are protective; however, in a state of chronic dehydration, they dry out and become vulnerable to attack from substances that might exist in inhaled air, such as dust and pollen.
Acid-Alkaline Balance: Dehydration causes enzymatic slowdown, interrupting important biochemical transformations, with acidifying results at the cellular level. The acidification of the body’s internal cellular environment can be further worsened when excretory organs responsible for eliminating acids (e.g., the skin and kidneys) don’t have enough liquid to do their jobs properly. An overly acidic biochemical environment can give rise to a host of inflammatory health conditions, as well as yeast and fungus growth.
Weight Management: Feelings of thirst can be confused with hunger, both because eating can soothe thirst and also because dehydration-induced fatigue is often misinterpreted as a lack of fuel (e.g., sugar). Both dynamics can lead to false sensations of hunger, triggering overeating and weight gain. Inadequate hydration can also promote the storage of inflammatory toxins, which can also promote weight gain.
Skin Health: Dehydrated skin loses elasticity and has a dry, flaky appearance and texture. But dehydration can also lead to skin irritation and rashes, including conditions like eczema. We need to sweat about 24 ounces a day to properly dilute and transport the toxins being eliminated through our skin. When we are chronically dehydrated, the sweat becomes more concentrated and toxins aren’t removed from our systems as readily, which can lead to skin irritation and inflammation.
Cholesterol: Cholesterol is an essential element in cell membrane construction. When we are in a state of chronic dehydration and too much liquid is removed from within the cell walls, the body tries to stop the loss by producing more cholesterol to shore up the cell membrane. Although the cholesterol protects the cell membrane from being so permeable, the overproduction introduces too much cholesterol into the bloodstream.
Kidney and Urinary Health: When we don’t drink enough liquid, our kidneys struggle to flush water-soluble toxins from our system. When we don’t adequately dilute the toxins in our urine, the toxins irritate the urinary mucus membranes and create a germ- and infection-friendly environment.
Joint Health: Dehydrated cartilage and ligaments are more brittle and prone to damage. Joints can also become painfully inflamed when irritants, usually toxins produced by the body and concentrated in our blood and cellular fluids, attack them, setting the stage for arthritis.
Aging: The normal aging process involves a gradual loss of cell volume and an imbalance of the extracellular and intracellular fluids. This loss of cellular water can be accelerated when we don’t ingest enough liquids, or when our cell membranes aren’t capable of maintaining a proper fluid balance.
Symptoms of dehydration often occur due to poor eating and drinking habits. Subclinical, low-grade dehydration could be negatively affecting your energy, vitality, immunity, and even your appearance. Try drinking more water throughout the day. Likely you will notice a shift in your well-being. Start establishing good hydration habits now!
6 Tips for Staying Hydrated
- Start each morning with a glass of water (room temperature, no ice, maybe a little lemon). Drink it even before you have your coffee, tea or juice. This helps replace fluids that you’ve lost overnight.
- Fill a water bottle (glass/BPA Free [by Life Factory] or stainless steel/BPA free by Klean Kanteen) you can take with you throughout your day, wherever you are!!!
- Take regular water breaks. Are you bored? Craving something? Reach for that bottle of water first… often you are simply thirsty. Start tuning in and listening to your body’s signals. When you are hydrated you are more focused and clear.
- Eat loads of vegetables at every meal (and up to 2 fruits as snacks). Fruits and vegetables are high in water content while also providing the essential minerals needed to help your body absorb and use the water properly. Processed food and drink – sugar, flour, salty snacks, processed meats, coffee, tea, sodas, juices, etc. – deplete our body’s water stores making it necessary to drink more water, while also triggering other undesirable reactions within the body (especially blood sugar surges). Overeating and too much protein will also affect our water levels as they further challenge our bodily systems, using more of the nutrients and water we’ve consumed throughout the day.
- Research and install a Water Filtration System for your home and office. While many of us have already considered this in regard to our drinking water, you may also want to consider one for your shower. I love this post by Kelly the Kitchen Kop on Finding the Best Water Filter System.
Bottled water should be a last resort – a) it’s expensive, b) it’s wasteful, c) it’s bad for the environment, d) it’s bad for your health (plastic contains harmful chemicals [BPA] that leach into the water especially when exposed to the sun and heat AND e) how much do you trust the claims on that water bottle? There’s no guarantee that it is any better for you than the tap water at home.
- Trade in that table salt for a high-quality sea salt. A good, unrefined sea salt is rich in trace minerals, which nourish your body, keep your blood alkaline, and even increase the benefits you receive from other foods.
February Health Challenge:
Drink More Water DAILY!!!!!
Read More Here: 8 Myths About Dehydration