Friday February 12, 2016
The scene opens and the camera pans across the scorched, dry, barren earth. The man's skin is equally dry and blistered, his mouth dry, his tongue swollen. His lips and tongue are as cracked as the ground he is treading. His aching head swims with dizziness, barely allowing him to think or eyes to focus on the path before him. He works to sweep his tongue around his mouth to create some saliva, but there is none forthcoming. Although walking for several days, he has no urge to urinate for there is no fluid to pass. His pounding heart belies the crawling pace set by his cramping calves. His body shivers despite the arid heat of the day. Oh for just a sip of cool, refreshing water......
The scene above provides a graphic picture of severe dehydration. Here in the southwest, dehydration is always a topic of consideration for summer outdoor adventures.
Yet, dehydration doesn't just affect desert dwellers or occur only on hot summer days. Fluids are regularly depleted through the act of living - breathing, sweating and digesting food.
When more fluids are lost than replaced, dehydration occurs. As in the scene above, the severe signs of dehydration are more obvious. Here are some of the subtle signs your body may be demonstrating dehydration:
• muscle cramps
• low urine output or deep yellow to orange in color
• cravings for sweets
• dry skin
• dry eyes
Water is the essence of the human body ranging from 60-80% in adults.
Simply put, your body runs on water and minerals. Water is necessary for all cellular, organ and system functions as well as temperature regulation.
In short, if you want your body to function correctly, it's critical to stay properly hydrated. Certainly conditions that deplete the body such as increased physical activity, vomiting or diarrhea call for increased hydration.
If you're looking to increase your vitality, increasing your hydration is the first step and easiest step. If you're not a fan of plain water, try adding citrus or try naturally flavored carbonated water. Double your benefits of hydration with rich vitamins and minerals by selecting high-water-content fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, watermelon, grapefruit, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli, eggplant or cauliflower.
Here are a few of the payoffs to make increasing your hydration a habit:
• better brain function, nervous system communication, and mental health
• healthy fascia/connective tissue - the home environment of all other systems
• increased detoxification of your filters - liver, kidneys, intestines, and skin, (as well as additional benefits for weight loss)
• increased energy
These benefits make the effort of being hydration-conscious worthwhile.
With regard to hydration, there has been plenty of debate about how much water to drink ranging from at least eight 8-ounce glasses per day to half your weight in ounces per day (150lbs/2= 75 oz.) Use common sense, and if you have any of the subtle or not so subtle signs listed above, by all means experiment and see if you those signs dissipate with adding more hydration.
A word of caution: if you exercise, it's important to increase intake without swinging the water pendulum too far. There have been documented cases of death due to "exercise-related hyponatremia", a fatal scenario that has caused death in athletes who overtaxed their kidney capacity and body's water/sodium balance. Guidelines were published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine to re-educate the public about hazards of drinking beyond thirst while exercising.
The Institute of Medicine's ideal recommended amount is listed as approximately 3.7 liters (16 8-ounce cups) for men and 2.7 liters (11 8-oz cups) for women.
Whether you are an athlete or not, if you are going to engage in physical activity that will make you sweat, drink an extra 1.5 to 2.5 extra cups of water to compensate for lost fluids. Sports drinks that contain sodium help keep the necessary mineral balance to reduce the chances of hyponatremia.*
Water is the essence of life, absorb it and enjoy a healthier body/mind.
To your great health and well being,
*Source: Winger J and Hew-Butler T. Statement of the Third International Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia Consensus Development Conference, Carlsbad, California, Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. 2015.