Water: Hydration and Health

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Do you experience headaches, fatigue, muscle pains, constipation, heartburn, anxiety attacks, food intolerances, joint and muscle weakness, dry skin, chapped lips, water retention, digestive problems, or bad breath? If so, you may be suffering from dehydration. Many people are dehydrated and are not even aware of it. Even mild dehydration can impair cognitive function, such as short-term memory, alertness, and concentration. Dehydration can result from simply not drinking enough water, or from drinking fluids such as soda, coffee, or alcohol that rob your body of water. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, hot weather, exercising, and illnesses that involves a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea also increase your body’s need for water.

5 Ways to Prevent Dehydration

  1. Carry water with you everywhere you go.
  2. Eat foods that contain a high amount of water, such as fruits, vegetables, soups, and smoothies.
  3. Drink beverages such as milk, low-sugar juices and herbal teas.
  4. Fill water bottles at the start of your day and make sure you drink them by the end of the day.
  5. Drink room-temperature and still water rather than sparkling or ice-cold water. Carbonation and cold temperature make it harder to drink very much water at one time.

Water is an essential substance that is required for nearly every body process including digestion, absorption, circulation, and excretion. Water is the main carrier of nutrients throughout the body and is essential for carrying out waste products. Moreover, a recent study has shown that along with healthy diet and lifestyle factors, drinking water has a preventative effect on bladder, colorectal, and breast cancer.

General guidelines for ensuring proper hydration include drinking eight to ten glasses of water daily. Keep in mind that specific water needs vary from person to person based on health and activity levels. Also, drinking coffee, soda, and alcohol increase your body’s water requirements. Do not try to lose weight by reducing your water intake. This is dangerous. Drinking water can actually help you to lose weight. Simply drinking a glass of water 15 minutes before each meal can help to increase your sense of fullness and allow you to eat less.

If you are not sure if you are drinking enough water, tune in to your body. Start by paying attention to the color of your urine. Dark urine indicates that your body is conserving what little water it has, and is in great need of more fluids. You want your urine to be colorless or slightly yellow. It is also important to drink water before you get thirsty. Thirst is a signal of dehydration. So, if you are thirsty, drink to quench your thirst as well as an additional two glasses of water. Another important indicator of dehydration is bowel activity. If you are not drinking enough water, your colon will reabsorb more water from your waste material and result in hard stools (and a recirculation of toxins).

The quality of your drinking water is also very important. Tap water can still contain impurities regardless of what is considered “safe” exposure. Filtering tap water can significantly improve the water’s taste and safety and is strongly recommended. There are many different types of filters available that vary in cost and effectiveness. Reverse osmosis seems to be one of the best filtering methods. It is also best to avoid drinking water out of plastic containers. However, if you do, avoid the softer, cloudy plastic containers because they seem to leech the most chemicals into your water. Glass bottles are ideal.

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January 2023