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The Dangers of Dehydration

Water, though vital for supporting just about every function in your body, is often grossly overlooked. Wondering how much water you need? A good rule of thumb is to divide your weight by two and you’ll have the number of ounces of water you should be downing daily.

For those who are slow in math, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking 75 ounces of water each day. Those on the heavier side need even more water to wash out toxins that would otherwise store in your fat cells and help keep you fat. Seniors are particularly susceptible to dehydration when temperatures soar.

Fast Fact: When you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Did you know that thirst also often masquerades as “hunger?” If you think you’re hungry, try drinking a big glass (or two) of water and wait 15 minutes. You may be surprised to learn that your hunger disappears. By drinking water an hour before rather than during a meal, your digestive enzymes can work full strength.

Meanwhile, if you’re sweating, exercising, in extreme heat, or even “green around the gills,” be sure to replenish your fluids.

Benefits of Adequate Water Intake

Water carries nutrients to your cells, provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues, and also flushes toxins out of vital organs.

Water also helps ease common health complaints, including:

Headaches: Since 75% of your brain is water, headaches can be a signal that your body is dehydrated (and potentially even constipated). Lay off that ibuprofen (which is bad for your liver) and stay hydrated.

Stubborn Fat: Water is nature’s appetite suppressant and also helps your body metabolize fat. Often when people are dieting, they don’t boost water intake enough to support the liver’s work in metabolizing fats. And, metabolized fats must be eliminated with plenty of fluids.

Back Pain: You wouldn’t think hydration has much to do with your back, but the disks along your spine are filled with fluids, mainly water, and they act like shock absorbers. When your fluid levels drop, your disks struggle to support your upper body, causing stress and pain.

Immune Disturbances: Your lymphatic system breaks down toxins before passing them into the blood stream for disposal. Low water intake disturbs lymphatic fluid flow, taxing your immune system and increasing infection risk.

High Blood Pressure: Since your blood is almost 85% water, blood volume depends on your water intake. When your body detects a drop in blood volume from dehydration, it closes less active capillary beds in order to fuel more active areas. When vessels close, they cause muscle tension. Water soothes hypertension by increasing blood volume and thus reducing tension.

Joint Pain: Water lubricates and cushions joints between your bones. When your water intake is low, friction between cartilage surfaces increases, causing swelling that leads to aches and pain.

Sluggishness: If you’re sluggish, good old H2O can help. Without enough water, your cells aren’t exactly motivated to tango. Water also helps flush toxins out (like MSG, food colorings, too much alcohol, and even allergens).

Bad Breath: Believe it or not, funky breath can signal dehydration. Saliva helps clean your teeth of bacteria and keeps your tongue hydrated. If you’re hydrated and your breath still stinks, dental floss could be your new best friend. If you floss and your breath still repels people, you may want to clean up your diet and focus on digestive health. But for now, start with drinking a lot more water!

Charlie-Horses: Water makes for oxygenated blood, which makes for oxygenated muscles. Muscles with no oxygen create lactic acid and thus cramps. Drinking water delivers oxygen to your muscles. And, if you drink a lot of coffee, you may need to replenish your electrolytes as well as your fluids.

Remember, most of you should be drinking at least 2-3 bottles each day–and more if you’re exercising intensively or in the direct sun for long periods of time.