Why drink water? I think everyone knows you should drink water, but do you really know why or do you just do it because it’s ‘good for you’? It turns out water is not only critical to health, but dehydration can actually be a reason for some of today’s leading ailments and illnesses. The above book was one of the textbooks in a class I took, and while on the extreme side, it goes as far to say as almost all illness can be linked to dehydration. So for today’s Nutrition Tip Tuesday I thought I would summarize some of the main reasons from the book and include a few others.
1) Digestion: Water is necessary for the production of hydrochloric acid (HCl), which is a key component in the digestion of protein in the stomach. Digestion without HCl leads to fermentation which leads to gas, constipation, and an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut.
2) Joint Pain: Water in the cartilage is what provides much of the lubrication of the joints. If there is insufficient water in the cartilage, there begins an abrasive rubbing of the joints, which causes pain.
3) Weight-loss: The sensations of thirst and hunger are very similar and it’s often very tough to distinguish between the two. If you are fully hydrated, the ‘hunger’ sensation won’t occur unless you are truly hungry. This means less food eaten, which can lead to weight-loss.
4) Allergies & Asthma: Put simply, when cells have inadequate levels of water, the brain secretes more histamine. Increased histamine can lead to decreased immunity, and inflammation, which both can result in allergies and asthma.
5) Toxicity: Water is one of the main mechanisms for eliminating waste and toxins from your body. Without adequate water, the toxins are not pulled out of your cells for elimination. Further, bowel movements are another of the body’s main sources of elimination. If you’re dehydrated, your digestion will be off (see above), and again, the toxins sit in the body.
6) Energy: As I mentioned in my afternoon slump post, a 5% drop in hydration can cause a 25-30% loss of energy. I personally experience this in the afternoon if I’ve forgotten to drink water, and within minutes of rehydrating I feel significantly better. I’ve also noticed that drinking a massive glass of water (with lemon) before eating breakfast significantly reduced the need for caffeine in the morning, which means better energy all day!
So, before you reach for medication to help with any of the above symptoms, simply think about whether or not you’re drinking enough water. That’s a much simpler (and cheaper) fix than buying a drug, right?
Women: Drink 8-10 cups/day
Men: Drink 10-12 cups/day
(MORE if you drink coffee.)