Monday, July 15, 2013

Water is your only true source of hydration – and you need a lot of it!

Living in Arizona, where the summer temperatures can get as high as 120F, brings to mind how important hydration is. The dry hot heat can cause you to lose water much more rapidly then under normal temperatures, leaving you extra susceptible to burning, heat stroke, fatigue, and potential death. Preventing dehydration should be a top priority!

The human body is made of about 70% water. Water is disbursed throughout our cells depending upon the type of cell. Muscle cells are about 75% water, and fat cells are only about 15% or less water. The more muscular a person is the more water makes up the percentage of body weight.

Water is one of the most important requirements for the human body to survive – for that matter most all life depends on water. It’s important to understand just how important water is. Water plays a primary role in just about every process in the body, from regulating blood pressure, controlling body temperature, producing digestive juices that aid in the digestive process, to keeping the body fluid and mobile – just to name a few. Without water our bodies would be dust!

So if the body is mostly made of water, how do you know if you are truly dehydrated? Dehydration is expressed as the loss of a certain percentage of a person’s body weight. If the body has a fluid loss greater than 1% of the body weight, the chances are the body is dehydrated. The body is constantly losing water as we take water in. For instance, the blood is about 90% water, this is the first place we lose water. If the body loses more than 12% of its weight from water, it could be fatal, as the cells begin to lose their water content rapidly causing the body processes to slow down and eventually shut down permanently. Water is your only true source of hydration – and you need a lot of it!

It can be a challenge to stay properly hydrated as our bodies are constantly losing water. We obviously lose most of our body’s water through our daily trips to the bathroom, sweating through exercise, or the normal loss of water through natural body perspiration. Also, we wait till we are thirsty before we make the effort to hydrate, by then the body is already moderately dehydrated, making it more difficult to replenish the fluids to a healthy point of hydration. If you are beyond thirsty, feelings light headed, fatigued, and have a headache, all signs point to dehydration.

You don’t need to live in a hot climate to be concerned about dehydration. Anyone can become dehydrated easily, especially the average person who eats the Standard American Diet (SAD). Not only is water the main source, but how the water is consumed, and then distributed through the body is also imperative in keeping the body properly hydrated. In other words, water is not necessarily the only thing that hydrates the body – at least not on its own. In fact, on a cellular level hydration is a balance of minerals, electrolytes and essential fatty acids to utilize the water in the body to properly hydrate the bloodstream, body tissues and cells. Electrolytes and trace minerals are vital to maintaining cellular balance. The minerals help to transport water into the cells, and activate enzymes – which are the basis of every process within the human body. These enzymes assist with digestions, hormone secretion, and for proper brain function. The essential fatty acids form the basis for cellular membranes. These membranes help the cells to properly absorb, hold and settle the water and other necessary nutrients that they are supposed to have.

Think of it this way, when you drink water, just like with any beverage or food, the water is absorbed from the digestive tract into the bloodstream by a small blood vessels called capillaries. About 95 percent of all water content of food and beverage digested ends up in the blood. The water than enters the fluid that surrounds the cells. The water then needs to get inside the cells to maintain optimal health. Basically, the body’s energy and strength is based on its ability to get water into and out of the cells. So obviously, if you are not eating a healthful diet or living a lifestyle that is not conducive of good health, more than likely your cells are not being properly hydrated which will result in the body breaking down.

Based on these facts, it’s important to incorporate a diet high in nutrient rich, fresh, live and organic, high-water content fruits, veggies, and dark leafy greens, raw nuts and seeds. Some foods are higher in water content such as watermelon, cucumbers, apples, carrots, lettuce, and so forth. In addition to eating good foods, it’s important to drink large quantities of fresh water throughout the day.

If you consume a diet high in animal proteins, then you will require a great deal more water to help break it down, assimilate, and then remove the waste from the body. Most processed foods such as crackers, chips, and similar snacks are all devoid of any moisture. When consumed they act as a sponge and soak up water as they pass through the digestion. These foods can all dehydrate you rather than hydrate you properly.

Just because a beverage such as coffee is liquid doesn’t mean it will hydrate you – far from it! In fact coffee is high in toxins which must be diluted with large quantities of water in order to be flushed from the body. Unless the beverage is from a high water-content live food without any processing, it’s not going to hydrate you – it’s going to dehydrate you because of the water requirement needed to digest and flush the food item from your system.

For that matter, although salt is needed in the body, there is no need to add salt to anything. If you eat a diet high in dark, leafy greens, and veggies, you will get all the natural sodium you need. Any additional salt requires more water to help with the digestion and elimination process of the body.

Obviously by considerably reducing the amount of processed food like products, and decreasing the amount of animal protein consumed daily; and increasing the amount of fresh, organic produce, along with drinking plenty of water throughout the day, the body will have a much greater opportunity to stay properly hydrated and increase longevity and vitality. Add exercise, rest, relaxation, and sunlight – keeps the body in balance and happy.

There is so much more to learn about the effect of hydration and dehydration on the body, and how important water is to our survival that I encourage you to further research and read on the subject. I highly recommend that you read the following two books, The Water Secret (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2010), written by Howard Murad, M.D., and The Water Prescription (Healing Arts Press, 2006), written by Christopher Vasey, ND, a Swiss naturopath. Both books focus on the belief of slowing the aging process down by focusing on properly hydrating the body through diet and lifestyle ultimately results in reducing and eliminating deadly disease, increasing energy and vitality, for overall good health and well-being.

Sources for article:
8 Common Myths About Dehydration, written by Megan, selected from Experience Life
December 15, 2012

Water and Hydration, written by Paige Holm, R.D.

The Water Secret (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2010), written by Howard Murad, M.D.

The WaterPrescription (Healing Arts Press, 2006), written by Christopher Vasey, ND

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