STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION: The human body is 75% water and 25% solid, and the brain is 85% water, therefore water is the most important nutrient. Without water nothing biological can occur. It provides the medium where a majority of metabolic reactions take place. It helps the body rid itself of wastes, it transports nutrients to where they need to go, it aids in metabolizing stored fat, helps regulate body temperature, and helps to maintain muscle tone by allowing the muscles to adequately contract. Water is the only means of preventing dehydration. Simple dehydration can be associated with many symptoms and conditions, such as pain, headaches, dry skin, high blood pressure, asthma, digestive problems and constipation.

HYDRATION: It is a common assumption that when your mouth is dry it is time to drink water. This actually could not be farther from the truth. By the time your mouth is dry you are already dehydrated. The body is able to produce saliva for chewing and swallowing food even under conditions of severe dehydration. The body can decide where the water is most needed when it is in short supply and saliva is one of the recipients. Another common misconception is that water only dissolves and circulates different things, when actually water is one of the life giving forces as is air and sunshine. Water has many life giving functions. The body as it ages does not recognize the sensation of thirst as it does when you are younger. Many people assume that the body will “take care of itself” in terms of hydration, which is not true. Many of the serious conditions in the elderly are from chronic dehydration, due to the fact that they cannot accurately access the need for water. Unfortunately most people do not understand that nothing can replace the need for water. Many other fluids have water in them however it is pure water that the body needs to function. A lot of beverages today contain caffeine and while most believe they are giving their body fluid by drinking these beverages, when they are actually causing it to lose more water than they are taking in. Caffeine, and alcohol actually are diuretics that dehydrate the body.

DEHYDRATION: When the body gets signals of dehydration it immediately goes into water rationing mode. The brain being the #1 priority receives its ration of water first. The body then distributes the available water to different systems, rationing it carefully. As the dehydrated areas start to shut down the body responds in numerous ways, pain, indigestion, constipation, and often times the symptoms are also the signals of more serious diseases.  Unfortunately the signs of dehydration are often misread as more serious complications and more drastic measures are taken than are necessary. The fact that many of these symptoms would not exist if the body were hydrated is not where the medical profession focuses its attention. By hydrating the body adequately the symptoms would disappear and the need for medications and unnecessary surgeries could be avoided. Unfortunately the body does not store water as it does fat, because a lot of these complications could be avoided if that were true. When one waits to feel thirsty before drinking and dehydration has already concentrated the body fluids, the body loses the energy-generating properties of water in the dehydrated cells of the body. Signs of dehydration other than thirst are dark yellow or even orange urine. Your urine should ideally be clear or pale yellow in color.

CHRONIC DEHYDRATION: Chronic dehydration comes from insufficient supplies of water to the cells and organs of the body. Just as a fruit will shrivel up and die with a lack of water, so will the cells of the human body. Thirst is not the only signal of dehydration. As I stated earlier. Thirst is a signal that comes well after the body is dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration are:

  1. Heartburn
  2. Dyspepticpain (stomach pain)
  3. Anginalpain (throat pain)
  4. Lower back pain
  5. Rheumatoid joint pain
  6. Migraine headaches
  7. Colitis pain
  8. Fibromyalgic pain
  9. Bulimia
  10. Morningsickness during pregnancy

There are several perceptive feelings that signal dehydration (again some of these are often misdiagnosed as other problems).

  1. Feeling tired without reason
  2. Feeling flushed
  3. Feeling unreasonable and short tempered
  4. Feeling anxious
  5. Feeling dejected and inadequate
  6. Feeling depressed
  7. Feeling heavy headed
  8. Disturbed sleep
  9. Anger and quick temper
  10. Unreasonable impatience
  11. Very short attention span
  12. Shortness of breath
  13. Cravings for coffee, tea, sodas, and alcoholic beverages
  14. Dreaming of water, oceans, or rivers

HYDRATING THE BODY: It is important to hydrate the body every day, many times a day. Upon awakening it is important to re-hydrate the body after a long nights sleep. Drinking a glass of water or two before eating gives the body time to replenish its water supply to the cells and organs before having to supply the digestive process. One half hour before eating is preferable and before drinking any caffeinated beverage. Drinking water throughout the day is essential to hydration. A good way to determine how much water to drink is to take your weight and divide it in half. That is the number of ounces of water you need each day to be well hydrated. So if you weigh 150#, you will need about 75 ounces of water or about 2 ½ quarts (1 quart is 32 ounces), per day. Take into consideration exercise, temperature, and climate as needs to drink more than that recommendation. Water is the best way to replace water in the body. Drinking other liquids, especially caffeinated beverages, do not do the job that water does. If you are one that has three cups of coffee upon awakening, you are doing your body a great disservice. Caffeine actually causes you to lose some of your body water by its diuretic action of causing you to urinate more liquid than you took in. The body needs water and other beverages do not substitute for pure water even though the contain water. So many of the beverages people consume today, sodas, sports drinks, coffee, tea, and alcohol have chemicals and coloring in addition to caffeine and sugar, that make them detrimental to the body. As far as the chemistry of the body is concerned water and fluids are two different things. Milk and juices are good choices of beverages, however they are not water, they are food and the body treats them differently than water. So please drink pure fresh water and plenty of it every day for optimum health.

Submitted by Tricia@ Nutrition by Tricia
I will be on vacation in August more posts coming in September.

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