We’ve all heard it: “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Do you know what keeps the chiropractor away?
Do you know what keeps the nephrologist (kidney doctor) away?
Do you know what keeps the gastroenterologist, phlebotomist, internist, oncologist, allergist, cardiologist, neurologist, and several other “ologists” away?
I like to imagine it flowing down the side of a mountain, straight from the mighty glacier to the quiet stream. Pure as the driven snow; cold and refreshing.
Did you know that 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water?
Did you know that 70% of your body mass is water?
When you hear a number like that, you might think we were all just big water balloons with bones walking around. But we all know better. Unless you are sweating or crying, most of the water in our bodies is never seen by the naked eye. We almost never even think about the water we’re carrying around…except when we’ve just come from a long car trip.
Easy to Forget
It’s easy to go for days or months without thinking much about water, but your body is always keeping track of how much you need and how much you have. If you don’t have enough, your body lets you know, but sometimes the clues are so subtle that they are easy to miss. You might not even make the connection between your discomfort and dehydration.
That is especially true on hot summer days like have here in Florida. In fact, most of the country has been hot this year, especially the desert southwest, where temperatures have been in record territory the last few weeks. Far too many people suffer and die every year because of preventable dehydration-related issues.
If you’re going to be outside all day in heat like this and not drink water, you are setting yourself up for heat stroke, which can be deadly or at least damage your brain, muscles, and skin.
What Dehydration Can Do
Here are a handful of conditions that are totally preventable by getting enough water:
Obvious, right? But thirst is a late-stage indicator of dehydration. If you’re feeling thirsty, it means you’re already dehydrated. It’s just the check engine light in your car – you pull over and shut off the engine NOW. If you feel thirsty, stop and drink water now.
If you’re having to use moisturizers every day, it’s a sign that your skin is not getting enough water. Your skin is an organ just like your liver and it needs to stay hydrated. Wounds and cuts heal more quickly when your skin is soft and moist.
Want to look younger? Drink water rather than smearing expensive chemicals all over your face.
Ever wake up with sticky, goopy eyes? Drink more water.
Your digestive system uses water to keep your waste soft and pass comfortably.
Kidney stones are pellets of waste that dried up and got stuck in your kidneys. Water would have prevented that. Water can help soften them, but it’s usually too late to dissolve by the time the stones have formed.
Your brain is anywhere from 75% to 85% water, and all your synaptic processes use water. Headaches, fuzzy memory, confusion, and attention deficit are all evidence of dehydration. If your reaction times are slow, reach for clean water before you reach for the coffee. (And don’t let me catch you drinking Coke when you’re tired or you will for sure go on my naughty list. Coke actually flushes water out of your system with its high concentration of sugar and salt).
Cold and Flu
The mucus in your throat, ears and sinuses captures toxins and viruses and flushes them out of your body (yes, contrary to what you might have thought, your runny nose is actually evidence that your body is already healing itself). Water keeps that mucus fluid and draining. You don’t want it to dry out and pile up in your head. See “Kidney Stones.”
Fatigue and Sleepiness
Falling asleep at your desk every day? Try this: Drink 16 ounces of water before you leave for work in the morning, and then drink 8 ounces of water every couple of hours. You won’t feel the energy roller coaster as strongly throughout the day as you do with coffee, and you might not be quite as grouchy.
Similar to mucous glands, your lymph nodes are your body’s waste management system. The toxins in your food get filtered to your lymph nodes, but then they sit there and fester like garbage unless you flush them out. The lymphatic system doesn’t have its own fluids, so it requires a steady flow of water to stay clean. Imagine a toilet bowl without water and you get the idea.
Surprising? Your late-night munchies might actually be an indication that you need more water, not a snack (eating within three hours of bedtime can mess up your sleep rhythms, too). I often find that when I get hungry, a glass of water settles it right down.
How Much Water Do You Need?
So, how much water do you need to maintain optimum health?
Opinions vary about this, and it is possible to drink too much water at one time. But as a rule of thumb, take your body weight in pounds and divide it in half to determine how many ounces of water you need to drink. If you weight 150 pounds, you should drink about 75 ounces of water each day.
Yes, 75 ounces each day.
Most water bottles are 16 to 24 ounces. That’s three 24-ounce water bottles a day or 4-1/2 16-ounce bottles. Of course, you will need to base it on your actual weight.
Bonus: if you start drinking this much water consistently, you may find that each time you get on the scale, it shows you a smaller number. (Disclaimer: results not guaranteed if you don’t Eat Right and Move Right).
“But I Don’t Like Water”
Every once in a while, someone will say this to me.
And – in the interest of full disclosure – for a fleeting millisecond, a thought flashes across my mind, up from the deepest recesses of my heart, where I think about undoing their adjustment. Of course, it’s awful and I would never ever, ever really do it, but it’s tempting at times when people say crazy things like this.
Truthfully, saying you don’t like water is one of the craziest things a person can say. Your body needs water. Desperately.
There are a few other places where you can supplement your water intake in ways that taste better than plain water.
(Please notice that coffee, juice and soft drinks are not on this list. At all. Ever.)
- Watermelon (obviously)
- Radishes (never thought of that one, did you?)
- Tomatoes (unless you have a nightshade sensitivity)
- Green Peppers (again with the nightshades)
In addition to all the other amazing benefits you can get from these fruits (Vitamin A!! Vitamin C!! Antioxidants! Folate!), they are all at least 90% water. So, if stopping by the water cooler doesn’t appeal to you, you can pack a few of these in your lunch to increase your water intake.
All Water Is Not Equal
Before you reach for the faucet in the sink, I want to make a couple of quick comments about water from different sources.
As a rule, do not drink tap water, unless you have well water and live on a glacier in Maine. That water might be OK. Everything else, especially in Florida, is not fit for drinking. I don’t even like to cook with it or bathe in it. Florida well water smells like rotten eggs because of the high sulfur content of the water. City water is “safe” to drink in the same way that diet soda is “safe” to drink. Most city water is treated with alum, then chlorine, and often fluoride. Fluoride is a known neurotoxin (kills brain cells), and it’s so corrosive that trucks that it has to be handled similarly to nuclear waste. But officials tell us it’s perfectly safe to drink.
Then there’s all the pharmaceutical residue, industrial waste, bacteria, disease, petroleum products, and sewage that doesn’t get filtered out.
Some bottled water is OK to drink, but it’s often expensive. The frustrating thing is that many companies that bottle water just use their local tap water, and don’t filter it. The claims and counterclaims about the safety of bottled water are enough to make me swear it off. Then there’s the matter of plastic bottles leaching chemicals into the water, especially when they get hot. In a pinch, bottled water is a workable solution, but you have to be selective. There’s been a recall of Dasani recently because of toxic materials. Also, if you leave a water bottle in the car and it gets hot, throw it away.
Reverse Osmosis Water
RO filters have come down in price quite a bit, and are relatively easy to install in your home. For every gallon of water they produce, they produce two gallons of waste because of the way they separate the ions, but if you’re thrifty, you can pump that wastewater into your landscaping system to water your plants. RO water also has all the useful minerals removed along with the toxins, so some people I know will actually add mineral drops to their RO water to get the full benefit.
I don’t recommend drinking it. Distilled water is made by boiling tap water and condensing the steam back into pure water, but like RO water, it contains no healthy minerals, either.
Charcoal Filtered Water
There are several types of carbon filters on the market, from inexpensive to extremely expensive, but they work very effectively. This is what Dr. Joseph Mercola has to say about them:
“Granular carbon filters and carbon block systems perform the same process of contaminant removal, adsorption, which is the chemical or physical bond of a contaminant to the surface of the filter media.
“Granular activated carbon is recognized by the EPA as the best available technology for the removal of organic chemicals like herbicides, pesticides, and industrial chemicals. However, one of the downfalls of granular carbon filters is that the loose material inside can channel–the water creates pathways through the carbon material, escaping filtering.
“Carbon block filters offer the same superior filtering ability but are compressed with the carbon medium in a solid form. This eliminates channeling and gives the ability to precisely combine multiple media in a sub-micron filter cartridge. By combining different media, the ability to selectively remove a wide range of contaminants can be achieved.”
Bottom line: drink more water, especially as the summer gets hot.
Thank you so much for joining me faithfully for “Wellness Wednesday.” I hope you’re learning something form it each week and sharing it with others. There is so much misinformation available online. I want people to experience their best health, but it takes knowledge. Thank you for helping me get the word out about this blog.
If you’re in the Naples area and we haven’t met yet, I invite you stop by my office behind the YMCA on Pine Ridge Road. If not, you’re always welcome to join me here.
“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas