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The Importance of Water and the Dehydration Epidemic


A recent
Harvard study shows 25% of children said they didn’t drink any water in a day, choosing sports drink, soda and juice instead. While that is concerning, it’s even scarier to see that 75% of American adults are in a chronic state of dehydration. Often, many people think dehydration comes from extreme heat or physical exertion but that is inaccurate. It happens when we don’t hydrate our bodies sufficiently for daily living. Most people aren’t even aware they are dehydrated. Water is vital to our overall health and longevity but most Americans don’t consume enough.

Water is essential to every single process within our bodies. Our brain is 78% water. Water carries vital oxygen to our brains. Our muscles are 75% water. Your blood, responsible for transporting nutrients throughout your body is 82% water. Your lungs, that take oxygen from the air to provide your body with oxygen, are 90% water. Even your bones are 25% water. Water serves as a lubricant, a base for saliva and fluids surrounding the joints. Additionally, it regulates the body temperature, eliminates waste and regulates metabolism. Dehydration causes muscle weakness, poor mental performance, headaches, sluggishness and more. Americans tend to consume many beverages throughout the day but not nearly enough water. Most Americans consume more dehydrating than hydrating beverages. Dehydrating liquids include soda, coffee, tea and alcohol. These dehydrating liquids counteract hydrating liquids. This means that we need to compensate for each dehydrating beverage we consume. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen in the majority of people. 

 


The Journal of Nutrition recently found that bad moods typically start with a lack of hydration. Women studied showed more anger, frustration, depression and annoyance when they are dehydrated.Additionally, when you are dehydrated, your saliva stops producing, which results in an abundance of bacteria, leading to bad breath. Most dentists recommend drinking more water to their patients with halitosis. Furthermore, as we age, our body’s thirst mechanism doesn’t work as well. This means it is easier for older adults to become dehydrated and be completely unaware.

Levels of Dehydration

1% dehydration leads to thirst

2% dehydration leads to feelings of anxiety, reduced appetite, and reduced energy by 20%

4% dehydration leads to nausea, dizziness, emotional instability and fatigue.

6% dehydration leads to loss of coordination and coherence of speech

10% dehydration cells begin to die

11% dehydration cannot be fixed simply by drinking water. The balance of the organism has undergone serious cellular changes and requires a medical professional.

20% dehydration may lead to death

 

Warning Signs of Dehydration

Early signs of dehydration:

  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • exhaustion
  • depression
  • cravings
  • cramps
  • headaches

Mature signs of dehydration include:

  • heartburn
  • joint 
  • back pain
  • migraine headaches
  • fibromyalgia
  • constipation
  • colitis
  • anginal pain

Emergency symptoms of dehydration include:

  • asthma
  • allergies
  • hypertension
  • autoimmune disorders like Lupus and Psoriasis

Tips for staying hydrated:

  1. Drink ½ an ounce of water daily for every pound you weigh. A 150 lb person needs to drink 75 ounces. One glass every hour is a good rule of thumb.
  2. Avoid diuretic beverages that flush water out of your bodies such as caffeinated coffee, tea, soda or alcohol.
  3. Start your day with ½ to 1 quart of water to flush your digestive tract and rehydrate your system from the overnight fast.
  4. Drink water at regular intervals throughout the day and don’t wait until you are thirsty.
  5. Get in the habit of carrying water with you or keeping it on your desk. Convenience makes it much easier to consume.
  6. Drink a glass of water before each meal and have a beverage with each snack.
  7. When you are stressed or engaged in physical activity drink more water.
  8. Every six ounces of caffeine or alcohol requires an additional 10 to 12 ounces to rehydrate you.
  9. Avoid drinking ice water. Icy cold water requires your body to heat up more to bring it to a more suitable temperature.
  10. Eat more fruits and vegetables. They have a higher water content. About 20% of fluid intake comes from food.

Citations:
http://jn.nutrition.org/content/early/2011/12/20/jn.111.142000.abstract
http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2015.302572

 

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