The connection between drinking water and good health has been established; abundant intake of water is one of the secrets of a healthy body. Dehydration, a shortage of body fluids, damages the body and eventually life itself.
Adults normally lose about five to six pints of water a day through perspiration, breathing and body waste that needs to be replaced. Dehydration may occur from excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea or heat exhaustion, some drugs (such as diuretics, antihistamines and decongestants), caffeine and alcohol. Thirst is not always an indication of dehydration, especially among the very young and the elderly. A more accurate indication of low body fluid levels is frequency and color of urine; the color should be pale, almost clear, not dark yellow.
The American Institute of Cancer Research lists ten good reasons to increase fluid intake:
- Jump-starts Your Body: Water helps your body get moving, starting by helping relieve dry mouth.
- Avoids constipation: Something as simple as fluid plays a major role in preventing constipation. The liquid softens the stools, encouraging bowel movements.
- Helps nutrient absorption: Water is the carrier that helps the body transport and absorb the nutrients in the food we eat, moving them through our cells and making them available when and where we need them.
- Makes medicine more efficient: Nearly all medications are to be taken with water to help the medication disperse in your system and get it everywhere it needs to go. Moreover, water also diffuses drugs, so they aren’t as irritating to the stomach, especially medicines that should be taken on an empty stomach.
- Moisturizes Your Skin: Water is the single most important factor in keeping your skin in good shape from the inside out.
- Flushes Your System: The kidney system is totally dependent upon water for it to work. Fluid intake is essential to its efficient operation, particularly as we age when there may be a decrease in function.
- Avoids muscle cramps: Although not the only element associated with muscle cramps, athletes have long recognized that even mild dehydration can produce cramps.
- Helps prevent kidney stones: It has been documented that stone prevalence is higher in those persons with low urinary volume. “More fluids” is the first and foremost treatment when kidney stones occur.
- Avoids dehydration: An alarming number of hospitalizations of older people include dehydration as part of the diagnosis. Both mental and physiological performance may be impaired with even mild dehydration.
- Keeps you well: In addition to being critical to digestion, nutrient absorption and waste removal, water is a major component in regulating body temperature and in maintaining electrolyte balance. The cells of your body rely on electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium and chlorides) to carry the electrical impulses responsible for muscle contractions and nerve impulses to other cells. Moreover, the fluoride added to our water supplies provides extra strength and density to the teeth and bones.
When you feel hungry between meals, drink a glass of water before you snack; it may satisfy you, so you won’t eat as much. This also applies to drinking a glass or two of water before a meal. It is important to drink even more fluid whenever you increase physical activity (before, during and after exercise), when eating a high fiber diet, during hot weather, at high altitudes, in low humidity locations, and when you’re not well—especially if you have fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. Start drinking water early in the day, drink water with meals and always drink water after going to the bathroom.
Research studies have shown a possible correlation between low fluid intake and cancers of the colon and bladder. Although part of the daily water intake comes from solid food, watch your intake of caffeinated beverages and alcohol, both of which are dehydrating.
Drop a piece of fresh lemon in drinking water for added health benefits unless your physician advises against it (most will support it).