Water is vital to health.  The human body has a very delicate balance of the amount of water it needs.  It is estimated that about 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. An estimated seventy percent of the human body is composed of water: the brain is 95%, blood is 82%, the lungs are 90% and muscles are 80% water.  Water assists in the detoxification of toxins via the bowels, urination, respiration, perspiration and the liver functions.

The body needs water to regulate body temperature and acts as a means of transporting nutrients throughout the body.  It transports oxygen to the cells, removes waste and protects the organs and joints.

Water serves as a lubricant that surrounds the joints. All joint surfaces are padded with cartilage, which contain a large amount of water.  When cartilage is dehydrated, gliding produces greater friction and shearing stress. The cartilage becomes damaged and sets up a process of inflammation that leads to pain and stiffness, i.e. arthritis. Without adequate hydration the discs of the back and neck begin a process of drying out, contributing to the degeneration of the discs. The meniscus found in the knee can also become brittle and tear easily with inadequate hydration.

Muscle cramps can be due to dehydration. When one exercises, heavy breathing and perspiration are depleting minerals and depleting the blood water volume that can contribute to muscle cramps.

Saliva is 98% water and the other two percent is made up of enzymes, minerals, antibacterial compounds and mucus. The salivary glands produce one to two liters of saliva per day.  Saliva’s main purpose is to moisten the inside of the mouth; it begins the digestive process and eases swallowing and speaking. Small amounts are continually discharged into the mouth however the mere thought of a lemon slice or the smell of food will increase the amount of saliva secretion. With dehydration the saliva becomes thick and clings heavily to the teeth and tongue. Another consequence of dehydration is constipation.

There are many reasons for experiencing constipation and even though liquids have little effect on stool form, dehydration can cause constipation. According to WebMD, ”By lubricating the intestines and the food we eat, water can help prevent and alleviate chronic constipation by facilitating the flow of food though the intestines”.

Common symptoms of dehydration are thirst, dry mouth, loss of appetite, head rushes or headache, dry and/or flushing skin, dark colored urine, weakness and chills.

So how much water does a person need?  Consider that on any given day one loses 6 glassfuls of water via urination, and another 3-4 glasses through perspiration and respiration. If one waits until they are thirsty they are dehydrated.

The recommended water intake is based on weight.  Take your weight, divide by two and that gives you the amount of water you need in ounces.  For example, a person weighing 120 pounds needs 60 ounces of water.  We aren’t talking caffeinated or alcoholic drinks here. These types of fluids are diuretics and one would ideally need to increase the water intake by two glassfuls for every caffeinated or alcohol drink one consumes.

By consuming the ideal water volume by weight ones health will improve dramatically.  Consider raisins, all dried up and shriveled, placed in a cupful of water.  Moments later it becomes pump and full.  The best method to insure adequate water consumption is to measure out what you need and drink that amount throughout the day.  Adding lemon slices can flavor water slightly to make it more palatable. Imagine your body getting the hydration it needs and experiencing a relief of dehydration symptoms.

This information is for educational purposes and is not intended for diagnosis or treatment.