Water health

Water, water, everywhere -- and not only during exercise! Staying hydrated is vitally important for overall health, from helping improve sleep patterns and brain function, to fighting infection.

Courtesy Photo

Living in Arizona—especially during the hotter months—we are exquisitely aware that drinking water is valuable and life-giving. But even when you spend those hot days basking in air conditioning, getting enough water is one of the best things you can do for your health, at any age and at any time of year.

10 Powerful Reasons to Stay Hydrated

For an in-depth education in the benefits of drinking water, I strongly recommend a book by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj called Water: For Health, for Healing, for Life: You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty! In it, Dr. B. lists 46 reasons why your body needs water every day. From those, I’ve chosen my top ten, which paint a pretty clear picture of the benefits of drinking enough water:  

Without water nothing lives. Water is the main source of energy and the first nutrient the body needs.

Water is the main solvent for all foods, vitamins, and minerals. It is used in the breakdown of food into smaller particles and their eventual metabolism.

Water is the main lubricant in the joint spaces and helps prevent arthritis and back pain.

Water helps prevent glaucoma and gives luster and shine to the eyes.

Water dilutes the blood and prevents it from clotting during circulation.

Water gives us power and electrical energy for brain functions, particularly thinking.

Water is essential for the body’s cooling system in the form of sweat and the heating, or electrical systems.

Water restores the normal sleep rhythms.

Water clears toxic waste from different parts of the body and takes it to the liver and kidneys for disposal.

Water is absolutely vital for making the immune system more efficient to fight infections and cancer cells when they are formed.

Do you see any ailments of your own mentioned here, such as arthritis, sleep troubles, or persistent chilliness? Increasing the amount of water you drink every day might help!

Humans Are H2O

We are basically made out of water: up to 60 percent of the human body is water, the brain is composed of 70 percent water, and our lungs are nearly 90 percent water. It’s a wonder that we don’t spill when we walk.

Digestion, transportation of waste, and body temperature controls are all important functions kept running smoothly by water. Living in a hot and dry part of the world may make you more susceptible to getting dehydrated. And the long-term lack of enough water--persistent dehydration—can lead to serious conditions, including hypertension, high cholesterol, joint pain, chest pain, migraines, Type 2 diabetes, and even death.

Drinking more water is such a simple fix to help reduce your risk of these conditions. Let me share some guidelines that help you stay hydrated at a healthy level.

Raise a Glass—or 10

Although you do get some water through food and other liquids, I still recommend that you drink a minimum of eight to 10 glasses of water every day. Sound like a lot? Consider that every 24 hours, your body uses as much as eight glasses of its water for essential functions (like bathroom breaks and breathing)—and you need to replace that water! Just like you wouldn’t let your car run out of gas before you head for the gas station, don’t let your body get dehydrated before you turn on the tap.

If drinking that much water sounds daunting, I’ve got some tips that should make it easier, and clearer why this is important:

Drink two or three glasses first thing in the morning for a laxative effect.

Drink one glass 30 minutes before and during each meal, and another two and a half glasses afterwards to aid in digestion.

Drink before and during exercise to help produce sweat.

Still thirsty? Drink more water!

If you find it difficult to remember to drink water, try setting a timer like you would for an electronic medication reminder. Water can be just as important as one of your prescriptions when it comes to fighting disease and illness, and keeping your body in good working order.

(Editor’s Note: Beth Ernst, MS, CPT, is Splendido’s Life Enrichment Manager and a certified personal trainer. She has worked in fitness and health for 13 years, and is passionate about people and dedicated to healthy living principles.)

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