With the summer heat, it's important to make sure you stay hydrated. And I mean really hydrated. Our bodies are over two-thirds water. Even our bones are composed of more than 20% water! Water is needed to transport all the nutrients, hormones and even wastes through our bodies, so it’s important to avoid dehydration, an often overlooked aspect of disease. As Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj says, in his book Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, “You’re not sick, you’re thirsty!” Most of us are dehydrated and we don’t even know it.
Here are five potentially surprising things you need to know about staying hydrated. Keep them in mind as the temperature rises!
1. Thirst pains are real.
Yes, we have hunger pains, but did you know that we also have thirst pains? Often, we can’t rely on a dry mouth to tell us that we need a little more H2O. Chronic joint pain, headaches and gastric ulcers can often spell d-e-h-y-d-r-a-t-i-o-n. Water is needed to carry acidic waste away from cells, and when we’re dehydrated, these wastes don’t get carried away, leading to our nerves interpreting the acidic waste as pain.
2. If you’re tired, it may be dehydration.
One study conducted by Loughborough University found that a mere 5% drop in water levels in the body can cause a 25-30% loss in energy. Even a 3% drop can cause fuzzy thinking, “brain fog” and a slower metabolism. Another study conducted by University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory found that even a 1.5% water loss led to reduced cognitive function, headaches and fatigue in 25 women and 26 men.
3. Allergies and asthma can be linked to dehydration.
Dr. Batmanghelidj found that when the body is dehydrated, histamine begins to ration water, which in turn increases histamine and the allergic response and lowered immunity. Chronic dehydration triggers a histamine release in asthma sufferers, which leads to inflammation and bronchial constriction.
4. City water can mess with our digestion.
City water is chlorinated to remove pathogens and disinfect the water. Chlorine is a skin irritant (consider mounting a shower filter if you suffer from eczema or dry skin), pro-oxidant, and destroyer of friendly microflora and stomach acid. When our friendly microflora are wiped out, we can suffer from bloating and slower digestion, and when our stomach isn’t able to produce as much stomach acid and enzymes as it should, digestion can become downright uncomfortable.
5. How much water do you need?
It’s an individual thing, as water requirements vary from person to person. The amount of water we need depends on a number of factors, including our size, activity level, stress level, the climate or temperature and our diet. A good basic rule of thumb is to take your body weight (in pounds) and divide it by 2. This is the number of ounces of water that you should be drinking each day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you will need 75 ounces of water per day. Divide this by 8 to get the number of 8-ounce glasses you should be drinking.