Water is the elixir of life, but do we get enough of it? Many people think that substituting sodas, coffee and juice for water is enough to keep us hydrated and healthy, while for others, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger. These misconceptions have led to a staggering 75% of Americans being in a chronic state of dehydration without even realizing it. When you’re dehydrated, you can experience muscle aches and pains, constipation, mental fatigue, dizziness, high blood pressure, and headaches.
Our bodies are made up of 43-75% water, and it’s an essential component of our health. The wide range in percentages comes from measuring different populations ranging from newborns (~75%) to obese people (~45%), with normal adult hydration at about 60%.
We can survive a month without food, but we’ll die after a week without water. The body is able to absorb many nutrients and salts better thanks to water’s ability to transport these nutrients and oxygen to our body’s cells and organs. Detoxifying is vitally important to our health, since it cleans our bodies of impurities. The best way to excrete these impurities is through urine and sweat – both of which depend on our water intake. Upping your water intake may help to reduce the risk of kidney stone formation. The kidneys filter our waste products through the blood and out via urination. If the concentration of salt in our urine is high, and our water content low, this increases the risk of kidney stone formation. By drinking more water, this concentration of salts is reduced.
We are at risk of sunstroke if our bodies become dehydrated. When we sweat, this cools our body down. If dehydrated, the body cannot sweat and overheats, which can damage the body’s internal organs.
If you suffer from high blood pressure, maybe it’s your water intake that is the problem. When our bodies excrete and lose more than the optimal amount of liquid, our blood vessels constrict, which can cause our blood pressure to increase. If blood pressure is increased by a deficiency in water, this may also increase the risk of heart disease. Because the constricted blood vessels cause an increase in blood pressure, the heart works harder to compensate for the reduced volume of blood. Lower blood pressure and greater consumption of water help lower stress on the heart.
What’s more, drinking more water can help you stay younger looking. Drinking a lot of water helps keep the skin clean and fresh-looking by removing impurities through sweating. Water also helps to keep the skin hydrated, which means younger looking skin – sagging and wrinkled skin is usually a sign of dehydration. Drinking water also cuts hunger pangs and acts as a good filler. Water has zero calories, so consider trading in your sugary drinks and juices to help control your weight.
If increasing your water intake seems like a chore, why not add lemon or mint to your bottle to make it taste better? Eat more fruits rich in water such as watermelon, and try to drink water more regularly over the course of the day. Having a glass of water or water bottle near you during the day has been shown to increase water consumption without effort.
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 http://www.jbc.org/content/203/1/359.full.pdf Accessed October 2011
 http://thetaoofgoodhealth.com/10-health-reasons-why-you-should-drink-more-water-4/ Accessed October 2011
 http://www.uihealthcare.com/topics/generalhealth/ghea5288.html Accessed 2011