Yesterday, I took the opportunity to clean up and organize my office a bit. I ran across one of the very first books I read while starting out on my wellness journey back in the early ’90’s: Your Body’s Many Cries For Water written by F. Batmanghelidj, MD. It reminded me how such a simple thing like water can have such a profound effect on our health.
Sixty percent of the adult human body is made up of water and it is essential for the optimal function of every cell, tissue and system in the body. Yet, despite knowing how critical water is for human health, statistics show that almost half of American adults do not drink enough water on a daily basis. Chronic dehydration can affect the body in many ways…including hindering our immune system.
How water affects your body and your health:
1. Water is a natural immunity booster. Your body’s immune system uses the lymphatic system to circulate immune cells around the body while also removing wastes and toxins. Your body relies on water to produce lymph. Interestingly, the word lymph is derived from the Latin word lympha, meaning “water.” Without adequate lymph, your white blood cells and other immune cells would not be able to travel throughout the body to defend against foreign invaders. It also helps to boost immune function by getting rid of toxins.
2. 55% of your blood volume is water. Blood is your waterway in which oxygen, nutrients, and hormones travel around your body and get delivered to your cells. Dehydration can result in a decrease in blood volume and impede the transport of these vital elements throughout the body. Blood is also responsible for toxin removal as well.
3. Your brain gets a boost from water. It has been shown that even mild dehydration can lead to a significant impairment in cognitive functions like alertness, concentration and short-term memory. It appears that brain tissue fluid decreases with dehydration, resulting in reduced brain volume and cell function. Water is also necessary for the brain to produce hormones and neurotransmitters, including melatonin. If you remember back to an earlier blog post, melatonin is not only important for sleep, but also for immune function.
4. Water is a key component of digestion. It is needed to produce the digestive enzymes required to break down our food and ensure proper absorption of nutrients. Water also keeps waste products moving through the intestines. If you don’t have enough water in your body, water is reabsorbed from the colon leading to constipation.
5. Water is necessary to generate energy. Water is the medium for most chemical reactions in the body, especially reactions required for normal metabolism. Metabolism is the process by which food is converted to energy to run all cellular processes. Without adequate water, metabolic functions slow down which can result in a loss of energy.
For all these reasons, plus many more, it is important to make sure you are drinking enough water! Dehydration can quickly sneak up on you. In fact, by the time you are thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated.
So how much water do you need to keep your body well hydrated?
My general recommendation is 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water a day. So for a 130 lb person that would be 65 ounces of water a day. If you exercise and sweat a lot, you may need even more. Getting this much water every day can seem like a daunting task, so I have included some fun tips for getting more water into your day.
is a Physical Therapist,
Nutrition Consultant and
Doctor of Integrative Medicine.
She has been treating women with osteoporosis for over 30 years and is dedicated to helping people achieve
lasting good health and vitality.
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