I first want to apologize for the absence of my articles the last few weeks. My son and I took an end of summer camping trip and my laptop was not among the required camping gear. In any case, I know I have spoken about the importance of water among several of my previous articles, and in this article I want to talk exclusively about it. I have told many of my patients that if God came down and told me that were only two or three things I could do for them, one of them would be to increase your water intake. Today we’re gonna cover why it is important.
We love water. We drink it, we cook with it, we bathe in it, we play in it, we cherish our lakes, streams, rivers, oceans, water falls and some of us even like to walk in the rain. Nearly 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, and coincidentally, nearly 70 % of our bodies are made of water. The therapeutic use of water has been documented for thousands of years. This is nothing new. Unfortunately, most of us have forgotten the importance of water.
So as not to disappoint any of you, a little science first! Every cell in every living thing on this planet contains a nutrient fluid that is mostly water. This is called intracellular fluid. Likewise, every cell in every little thing is floating around other cells in an “extracellular” sea of salt water. Interestingly enough, the concentration of the salt water in our bodies is almost the same as the concentration of the oceans. Now what happens if you don’t have enough water? Every cell needs water to live, essentially. So it sucks water from the extracellular fluid. That then becomes dehydrated. If it drops as little as 2% you will have no energy. If it drops more than 10% you will suffer significant health problems, which I will get into a little later.
Now, how much is enough? You should drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., you should drink 75 ounces of water a day. One glass every hour or so is optimal. If you don’t come close to that, try to increase your intake slowly. You also don’t want to flood the system. As I have said before, our bodies have a delicate balance in them. Also remember there are fluids out there that make you lose water, yeah, you guessed it those would be the caffeinated beverages we all love to drink. Sodas, tea, and coffee all dehydrate your cells. So you have to drink MORE water to compensate for these beverages. Every one should start their day with ½ to 1 quart of water to flush your digestive system and to rehydrate from a good nights sleep. Everyone should then be drinking water at regular intervals through out the day. Don’t wait till you are thirsty. You should get into the habit of carrying a water bottle with you through out your day. If you are increasing your physical and mental activities, you should also increase your water intake. Lastly, drink the purest water available, and don’t forget you need to sweat! Exercise to the point of perspiartion or enjoy a steam bath. Perspiration is on of the best ways to detoxify available to us. But remember, the more you sweat, the more you have to drink!
I would like to expand on two of those points. First, remember there are some beverages that cause you to lose fluids. For an average American, for every 3 servings of a hydrating beverage, we drink 2 servings of a dehydrating beverage. Sounds okay right? Well, those dehydrators cause you to lose more water in the form of urine that you originally consumed. Bottom line, you only rent beer, and you lose more water in urine than the amount of beer you consumed. Secondly, sweating. Whether you use a steam bath, or exercise you are losing water. Water also is a great medium for relaxation and exercise. Hydrotherapy can offer amazing curative and relaxing powers. Anyone who has sat in a good steam bath or jaccuzzi knows the power that they have. Likewise, for people who have arthritis or physical limitations that make exercise difficult, water offers an easier work out.
So what are some early signs of dehydration? Fatigue, anxiety, cramps, depression, and headache. As dehydration increases, so do the signs. Back and joint pain, fibromyalgia, constipation, and chest pain in some cases. In fact, in some cases as dehydration increases, asthma and allergy symptoms rear their ugly heads as well as hypertension. This brings us to the point of how to get re-hydrated. Obviously the best answer is not to get that way in the first place. But in our lives, it can be very difficult at times to get enough water. So, if you do become dehydrated try to get a teaspoon of sea salt with every quart you drink. You really need the salt to balance the fluids in you body. Remember I talked about the cellular fluids? You thought I was just throwing in some science! You don’t need to put it in the water, it won’t taste that great. Just try putting it on your food as you eat. Second, try to reduce the consumption of the dehydrating beverages. No need to undo your good work!
Lastly, what kind of water should we drink? Here lies one of the last great debates! What kind of filter should you have in you home? Should it be a carbon, reverse osmosis, steam distillation? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. There is also a vast difference in cost. I personally recommend two companies. Aquasana and Water wise. They both purify, but in a little bit different manner. Aquasana is a home based filter system, Waterwise is a distilling countertop system. Check them out.
There is so much more that I could tell you about water but space is limited. There is a physician who is probably the most reknowed on water. His name is Dr. Batmanghelidj. He is the author of “Your Body’s Many Cries For Water”. Check it out too.
Like I have said many times before, everything in moderation. Water is no exception. Too much water at one time will cause the system to crash too! If you have questions, come and see us at the Balance of Life Clinic. And as always, remember a smart healthcare consumer is informed and aware. Clifford M. Sonnie M.D., M.P.H.