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Hydration
 

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Joyce Holliman

May 2022
Dehydration may be the reason for your aches, foggy brain and premature aging

The human body is 60 percent water. Your muscles are composed of 75 percent water. And 85 percent of your brain is water.

 

Water is like the oil in the machine. And we all know what happens to a car when the oil level gets too low.

The engine burns itself out and dies.

 

Mahatma Gandhi survived 21 days without food. But four days is about as long as a person can go without water.

 

Dehydration is a real health threat that many people don’t take seriously. They think it only happens to someone trekking through the desert, or to marathon runners or other athletes.

 

This is a dangerous misconception.

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The dehydration epidemic

When New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center surveyed 3,003 Americans on their drinking and activity patterns, they discovered that at least 75 percent were actually losing fluid on a daily basis. In other words, they were chronically dehydrated.

 

That begs the question: how much water do we really need to drink?

Most of us know the “8×8” rule (eight 8-ounce glasses per day).

 

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences recommends 104 ounces for adult men (about 13 cups) and 72 ounces for women (about 9 cups).

 

If this seems like a lot, keep in mind that the water you consume in the form of foods counts toward this total.

 

What does water do for you?

In case you’re wondering what the big deal is about getting enough water, stop for a moment to consider the fact that water is necessary to:

  • Regulate body temperature through sweating and respiration

  • Flush waste, mainly through urination

  • Protect your brain and spinal cord by acting as a shock absorber

  • Form saliva

  • Lubricate joints

  • Deliver oxygen throughout the body

  • Allow all our cells to grow and reproduce (when this doesn’t happen, you’re at higher risk of premature aging!)

 

Given all of the above, it stands to reason that not getting enough water can have serious health consequences.

 

One study showed that being even mildly dehydrated did the same damage to the heart as smoking a cigarette.

 

7 signs that you’re dehydrated

Dehydration can happen to anyone, at any time of the year. More often than not, it’s a result of insufficient water intake, rather than excessive sweating.

 

Dehydration is often the reason for the following seven symptoms. If a few of these occur together and are ongoing, pay attention:

  1. Bad breath. If you’re not producing enough saliva, bacteria overgrowth in the mouth can cause foul breath. Your lips and tongue will also feel dry.

  2. Dark urine. Urine that’s dark yellow or orange usually signals a lack of water. (It could also indicate a problem with the liver, so pay attention to this symptom).

  3. Muscle cramps. Dehydration is only one reason for this. But if the weather is cool and your cramping is spreading from one muscle group to another, it’s likely that dehydration is the cause.

  4. Craving sweets. When your body lacks water, the liver has a hard time releasing glucose, and your body will crave sugar to make up for this missing energy source.

  5. Headaches. Clearly, a headache can have many causes. But even mild dehydration can bring on a headache or migraine. It’s always a good idea to drink a glass of water at the first sign of a headache.

  6. Brain fog and irritability. If a glass of water helps alleviate these, you can be sure you’re dehydrated.

  7. Hunger, even right after a meal. Thirst and hunger cues come from the same part of the brain. If you feel hungry even though you’ve just eaten, you’re probably thirsty.

Tips for staying hydrated

Keep water handy. Make it easy to get enough water. Stash a bottle in every room. If it’s there, it’s a simple matter to take a few sips, no matter what you’re doing.

 

If you’re not a fan of plain water, add lemon, lime, strawberries or other fruit. Add cut fruit to ice cubes. Or drink unsweetened fruit-flavored seltzer.

 

Try herbal tea. Tea, after all, is made of water. And there are endless varieties to try. A pitcher of iced tea on a hot day is just what the doctor ordered!

 

Choose hydrating snacks. Trade your pretzels and popcorn for fresh or frozen fruit, smoothies, celery with peanut butter or veggies and hummus.

Choose these summer fruits and veggies for their high water content:

  • Watermelon – 92% water

  • Strawberries – 91%

  • Cantaloupe – 90%

  • Peaches 89%

  • Zucchini 94%

  • Tomatoes 94%

  • Spinach 91%

A special note to seniors

Few adults drink enough water. And many of them, particularly in their later years, are killing themselves through dehydration.

 

The hypothalamus center of the brain controls how a person perceives thirst. For some reason, older people begin to fail to perceive they are thirsty and reject efforts to get them to drink more. This sends them on a downward spiral.

 

Lack of water — dehydration — creates thirst, fatigue, weakness, pain and loss of appetite and leads to a buildup of toxic acidity. It’s a long, slow process of decline. As it gets worse, it develops into headaches, loss of concentration, loss of balance, increased irritability and delirium.

 

When seniors begin to feel bad, they lose the motivation to get up and get a drink, not wanting to put out the effort and endure the increasing pain or subject themselves to expending the energy needed to go to the bathroom to relieve themselves. Troubles with incontinence also may play into their unwillingness to drink.

 

Since seniors take so many drugs, their dehydration is compounded, especially if they are taking antihistamines. Antihistamines block hydration, leading to acidic blood and the masking of pain. What we mistake as pain and disease is really chronic cellular dehydration.

 

Dehydration causes a buildup of acid waste, greatly contributing to the aging process. Dehydration combined with a lack of exercise and acid buildup in the tissues overloads the lymphatic system. Dehydration over time leads to chronic acid/alkaline imbalance (overacidity), causing chronic disease.

 

Low oxygen levels come with acidity. To contract an infection, our internal environment has to be acidic. Wouldn’t you guess that this is why some people develop colds and flu when others don’t in the same environment? The medical establishment is confusing symptoms with disease. Disease arises within and develops from an acid and dehydrated environment.

 

Overacidity and dehydration are the basic causes of all sickness and disease. They are the root cause of aging.

 

Seniors, you should drink six to eight glasses of water a day, whether you think you are thirsty or not. You can also get water from drinking teas and fruit juices — but avoid those sweetened with high fructose corn syrup — and from eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

 

If you’re providing care for an elderly person and you have trouble getting him or her to drink enough, try these tips from Lifestyle Options:

 

  • Use a closed-top container with a straw.

  • Find a healthy drink that the elderly person actually enjoys. If it doesn’t taste good, it most likely will not be consumed. Besides water, provide fruit juices, herb teas and broth.

 

Join us next month for another Healthy Tip