We all know this and we also know the adverse effects on our health when we don’t get enough of it. A large proportion of the population is suffering from dehydration. Dr Michael Colgin is a Sports scientist. He estimates that more than 90% of our population is dehydrated. And Dr Batmanjhilidj believes dehydration is the root of many diseases. Including cardiovascular and cancers.
A Body of Water
Water circulates through our body. Like it travels through the earth, cleansing, invigorating, giving life and sustaining energy. Water is the basis of all life and that includes your body.
- Your muscles that move your body are 75% water;
- your blood, which transport nutrients is 82% water;
- your lungs, which provide your oxygen are 90% water;
- your bones are 25% water.
- Water even shapes your thoughts, as 76% of our brain, the control centre of your body, is water!
You could say – we are what we drink!
Not what we eat…..
Our bodies require water for many different processes in our body:
- Digestion and absorption of essential nutrients into our cells
- Circulation and elimination/detoxification
- Building tissue
- Temperature control
- Lubrication of our joints and internal organs
- Keeping bodily tissue – eyes, lungs and airways moist
Our health is dependent on the quality and quantity of water that we drink on a daily basis. We can prevent many diseases by increasing our water intake on a regular basis. It is interesting to observe how quickly the benefits start to happen. Drinking good quality water is a great investment for long term health and well-being.
The amazing thing is that our body has the ability to keep its water content relatively stable for days. Even after drastic fluid loss, we can restore balance through adequate water intake.
How do we get dehydrated?
We lose water from our bodies in many ways. Just through different activities of daily living, we lose about 3 – 4 litres per day: sweat, urine, exhaled air and bowel movements. The most common way of losing fluid, is through exercise and sweating. The evaporation of sweat on your skin, allows your body to cool when overheated, to help regulate core temperature. Vomiting and diarrhoea can increase water loss by up to 5 litres and potentially create fluid and electrolyte imbalance, leading to dehydration.
Over the years we have continued to substitute drinking water with other fluids that contribute to dehydration in different ways and through numerous metabolic processes.
- Coffee and other caffeinated drinks take water from the body via dieresis.
- Carbonated soft drinks deplete minerals from cells.
- Alcoholic beverages work like caffeine and are also mineral depletive.
So – for every cup of coffee, tea, a glass of wine – enjoy an extra glass of water!
Pharmaceutical drugs, marijuana, cigarettes and tobacco are all dehydrating. They close down the neurochemical signals indicating that you need water.
Other ways we dehydrate:
- Being out in the sun
- Swimming in a chlorinated swimming pool. Great for exercise and not good for your skin and your hydration levels!
- Having a nice, warm shower in chlorinated water and
- Working in air conditioned spaces and in front of computers
There is more to water than just drinking it. In the Spa Industry they use water-based treatments to improve circulation and the immune system, relieve pain and reduce stress. Thermal/mineral spring water has amazing healing properties. Unfortunately the quality of the public water supply in our tap has a lot to answer for. It is full of pollution and chemical contamination. The water flows through old and dirty pipes and we drink it on a daily basis. The continued absorption of these toxins has a profound effect on your long-term health and the health of your children.
How do you recognise dehydration?
If you are thirsty, it is already too late – it means your cells are already dehydrated. Regard a dry mouth as the last outward sign of dehydration. Why? Because thirst does not develop until body fluids drop well below levels required for optimal functioning.
The effects of even mild dehydration include tiredness, lack of focus and concentration, decreased coordination, dry or itchy skin, decreased urine output, dry mouth and nose, blood pressure changes and impairment of judgment. Stress, headache, back pain, allergies, asthma, high blood pressure and many degenerative health problems can be the result of dehydration.
A good way of checking your hydration level is keeping a check on your urine:
- A well-hydrated body produces clear, colourless urine.
- A slightly dehydrated body produces yellow urine.
- A severely dehydrated body produces orange or dark-coloured urine.
How much water to drink and when?
Improving hydration helps increase the body’s transport of nutrients to our cells. It also help flush unwanted toxins out of the system. It is best to replace fluid as your body excretes it. As water loss happens during sleep, a good start to the day is to slowly drink a couple of glasses before breakfast. Then consume water throughout the day. Regular sipping is better than a 500ml blast:
- Morning is when you are most full of toxins and dehydrated. Firstly rinse your mouth of toxins (don’t use chemical mouthwash). Then reach for a big glass of water. This water in the morning really gets the blood flowing.
- 1-1.5 glasses before each meal
- A couple of glasses between meals
- A glass with larger meals
- 1-2 glasses after dinner
Make it a habit to drink water before eating, and after eating, to support the digestive process. The stomach depends on water to help digest food, and for nutrients to break down and used as energy. The liver, which dictates where all nutrients go, also needs water to help convert stored fat into usable energy. If you are dehydrated, the kidneys turn to the liver for backup, diminishing the liver’s ability to metabolise stored fat. The resulting reduced blood volume will interfere with your body’s ability to remove toxins and supply your cells with adequate nutrients.
Have a glass of water handy at your bedside table.
On average, a sedentary adult in a temperate environment needs about 2 – 3 litres of water per day to maintain a balance of fluid. Then it all depends on what your daily activity looks like, the temperature and humidity on the day – all factors that will increase the need of water.
The suggested guideline is to drink one litre of water, per 25 kilo of your own bodyweight. The more you sweat, the more you need to drink, so increase your intake by about 20% when exercising. Always keep a bottle of water with you. The key is not to wait until you are thirsty.
The importance of good Quality Water
It’s no surprise that most people want an alternative to drinking tap water. Everyone wants water that taste better. Water that is good for them and they can drink every day, supplying the water the body needs.
Your tap water is full of chlorination by-products and heavy metals. Radioactive compounds and parasites are also found in the local municipal water supply. Even if you get water from a private well, some of these components can be present in your water. To get away from all this, I recommend to invest in a good water treatment system. A water system that transform your tap water into living water to nourish your body.
Without enough water, or with too much of it, our optimal hydration levels get out of balance and our health and normal body functions suffers. Our body is amazing! It attempts to keep a water balance internally and when the balance is out, it sends us signals. We feel the need to urinate when there is an overflow and we feel thirsty when there is a need of water. Dehydration can result in migraines and constipation, stress and depression. In the long term urinary tract infections and kidney stones. The list is long.
The message is simple:
Drink at least 1 litre per 25kg of your own bodyweight, of good quality, clean water every day. Make this a healthy habit and you are taking a big step in the right direction to good health and wellbeing!