Are You Drinking Enough Water?
I have a confession to make. I am not a great water drinker. On a recent evaluation of some blood work that I did, I found that my biggest issue is dehydration. Since then, I have been working really hard to hydrate myself better. Why? Because dehydration, just simply not drinking enough water, can lead to a whole host of health problems.
There are many acute and chronic conditions that can be reversed with water:
- Angina (heart pain)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Migraine headaches
- Arthritis pain
- Colitis pain
- Chronic constipation
- Heartburn (reflux and GERD)
- Depression (yep!)
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- High cholesterol
- Morning sickness
- Low back and neck pain
Why Do We Need It?
Dehydration, especially over a long period of time, causes a cascade of physiological responses in order to manage the lack of water in the body. Because of the intense dependency we have on water, when we don’t drink enough our body shuttles what we have to where it is needed most. This triggers histamines, the release of compounds like vasopressin, renin and angiotensin that control kidney function and blood volume, and prostaglandins and kinins which are involved with inflammation and pain signaling.
The human body is made up of about 60% of water. I say about because it is largely dependent upon your body composition, height, weight, and even gender. We use it to lubricate our joints and mucus membranes (think saliva and tears), to absorb and transport nutrients (food molecules and also oxygen), to eliminate waste products, and to dissipate heat (sweat). When we are chronically dehydrated, like I am, these things don’t happen, and we start to feel the effects, like those listed above.
Many of us don’t think of these very common symptoms as being a result of dehydration. But in a way, it is quite wonderful that such serious and uncomfortable symptoms have such an easy cure. Wouldn’t it be great to effectively treat your high blood pressure by simply drinking some water? How brilliant that water is an alternative to a pain-relieving drug?
How much should I drink?
There is no hard and fast rule to determine how much water is enough. You may have heard to drink 8 8-ounce glasses a day or to drink half your body weight in ounces, but really there is no evidence to support these suggestions. That being said, however, I think it is safe to say they are good suggestions. With all the exercise we do, the dry climate in which we live (hello Colorado folks), and the coffee and soda and alcohol we drink, many of you are likely dehydrated.
The easy solution is to simply drink more water. Pure, filtered water is best. Add a little lemon juice, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, liquid ionic minerals, or a pinch of Himalayan sea salt for some electrolytes and some flavor.