HYDRATION: Excerpt from “Sick and Tired, to Healthy and Inspired”
Imagine the first creature that crept from the watery sea onto land. What a great change of scenery, but now the creature has to figure out what to do about water, since it is not as readily available. Every cell requires water to stay alive, so we need to know how to meet that need. It turns out that our bodies have many different mechanisms in place to retain water when it is low and to prioritize and direct water to allow our most important functions. The problem is that we don’t always recognize when our bodies need water. Sometimes we gulp down liquids that don’t really satisfy that need.
While lack of water isn’t the cause of every human problem, increasing water intake to the ideal level (and, yes, you can die from drinking too much water!) is cheap and easy and doesn’t hurt a thing.
Fun facts about water:
- Water is needed to create life. Take that, Dr. Frankenstein.
- Like a vitamin deficiency, lack of water can cause many chronic conditions in the body. The cure is to replenish the missing nutrient—water.
- Water is the vehicle that delivers necessary nutrients to all of your cells, even in your little toe.
- Where there is not much water, blood vessels contract to accommodate the smaller volume. Don’t we want our blood vessels to expand to keep our blood pressure at bay? But blood vessels can’t expand unless there is liquid to fill them.
- Seventy-five percent of the body and 85% of the brain is made up of water. When we lack sufficient water, our body plays favorites and gives more water to the most important organs.
- Dry mouth is the last symptom of thirst, so don’t wait for that before you drink. As we age, we don’t recognize thirst as readily. Maybe grumpy elders aren’t grumpy; they’re just thirsty.
- Histamine is released when the body doesn’t have enough water, just like it is in an allergic reaction. Excess histamine can manifest as asthma, vasomotor rhinitis, allergic skin disorders, excess stomach acid, and certain types of vascular headaches.
- Heartburn is a result of not enough water intake. The stomach is accustomed to acidity, but it dare not release the acid content into the small intestine unless there is enough water to de-acidify the stomach’s content once it reaches the small bowel.
- Body pains may be a local thirst of the muscles. Water washes away the acidic toxic waste of metabolism, which can trigger the nerves to send messages of pain. It never hurts to drink a little extra water in order to relieve pain.
- Overeating may be a result of thirst. While natural foods do hydrate the body, water does it more efficiently.
- Water aids digestion and helps to make motilin, a substance that stimulates the movement of the colon to keep us regular. (Barmanghelidj 2008)
Which of these symptoms have you experienced that may be related to not enough water? Which of these fun facts were new to you?