Much more than food, clothing and shelter, water is essential to good health, and if you are not drinking enough fluids, you could be putting yourself at risk.
Water makes up about 60% of your body weight. It is your body's principal chemical component, and every system in your body depends on it. Water is needed to cleanse vital organs of toxins, to ferry nutrients to cells and moisten the tissues of your ears, nose and throat so that they function properly.
If your body fails to get enough water, dehydration sets in. Even mild dehydration puts a strain on bodily functions, and children and the elderly are particularly susceptible. The brain is affected first, since brain cells are 85% water and 20% of your blood circulates in your head at any given time.
Chronic fatigue is one ailment associated with dehydration. Symptoms may be anxiety, anger or fear, feelings of being stressed, drained, depressed or lethargic. Blood vessels may constrict. Gallstones may form. Your kidneys can be permanently damaged, too, if you don’t consume sufficient water.
The first warning sign of dehydration is thirst, followed by dryness or stickiness of the mouth. Your eyes and skin may feel dry. You may become drowsy, develop a headache or feel lightheaded.
Other symptoms are constipation, lack of sweat, low blood pressure, rapid heart beat and little or no urination. In the most severe instances, fever, delirium and unconsciousness may occur—even death.
On the other hand, proper hydration has a variety of health benefits. They range from weight control and improved regularity to greater alertness, less fatigue and even cancer prevention.
How much water is enough? Cavemen knew the answer was to drink until you no longer feel thirsty. Anytime you experience thirst, your body is already saying it’s not getting a proper supply of water.
The Paleo Diet recommends following the “3P rule”—drink three pints of water before 3pm each day to properly hydrate. After 3pm, drink fluids according to your thirst. And always carry a refillable water bottle so that you can quench your thirst whenever it occurs.
Alfablue, June 2011