With 65–90 per cent of our body mass composed of water, there is no time like the present to reach for a glass. Learn how to avoid the many drains on your hydration and keep your vital health flowing with water.
Water makes up 74 per cent of the brain, 83 per cent of blood, 22 per cent of bones and 75 per cent of muscles – all of which need to be constantly replenished.
Water has many purposes within the body: it aids the absorption and digestion of vitamins and nutrients, helps the digestive system work by enabling better absorption of foods, flushing toxins from tissues, and helping to eliminate waste. Detoxifying the liver and kidneys is a major role of water in the body and water also assists in regulating body temperature at an optimum 37 degrees Celsius.
Dangers of dehydration
Our bodies are in constant need of water. Simply breathing causes water loss depending on the climate and your level of physical exercise. Although most people know about our essential need for water – and lots of it – many opt for dehydrating drinks which they find more palatable than water, such as soft drinks, coffee, tea or alcohol. This can quickly lead to dehydration.
Dehydration causes your blood to become thicker, so your body has to work harder to circulate it. That common feeling of lethargy in summer may go beyond the hot weather – your brain is slowing down to cope with reduced water. Common signs of dehydration include headaches and dizziness, dark urine, dry mouth, nausea and vomiting.
Dr Batmanghelidj, in his pioneering studies on dehydration, takes these dangers further, linking dehydration to disease. He proposed that most common diseases, including asthma, arthritis and hypertension, are names given by the medical profession to patterns of symptoms created when the body initiates a “drought management system” to conserve water.
When chronically dehydrated, your body tries to protect your brain by minimising respiration water loss. It produces histamines to close off capillaries in our lungs, which reduces water loss but makes breathing far more difficult. Dr Batmanghelidj claims that asthmatics don’t need antihistamines, just lots of water on a regular basis.
The cheapest health care available
Sufficient hydration leads to increased energy, better mental performance and concentration throughout the day, reduced headaches caused by dehydration and clearer skin.
For those looking to lose weight, water is an essential tool which is often misunderstood. Many ‘crash’ diets are completely ineffectual – weight lost is actually water weight rather than body fat, resulting in chronic dehydration and a return to original weight once normal eating and drinking habits are resumed.
The body will only relinquish fat when it is adequately hydrated. In a state of chronic dehydration, the body will hold onto everything it can, impairing it’s ability to metabolise fat. And, of course, water has zero calories. Furthermore, water gives you that ‘full feeling’, which leads to smaller meals of fewer calories.
Tips for optimal hydration
While you slept during the night, your body has gone without water, so you wake dehydrated. Start your day with a glass of water and keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day to remind you to keep drinking.
Don’t wait until you are thirsty to have a drink – thirst means you are already dehydrated. The best temperature for water is luke-warm which is easier to digest though not always appealing. Try to avoid drinking very cold water, as this slows your metabolism making it harder to digest so much of it will be lost.
The average person needs two to three litres of water every day. Heavier people and those who are active need more, generally three to four litres is recommended.
Keeping hydrated is easy – it’s (nearly) free, flavourless and filled with potential for your better health.