With nearly all naturopathic prescriptions there will be a recommendation to increase intake of filtered water daily. With our busy lives today we are often distracted with getting things done and therefore staying hydrated is often not considered an important thing to do. So this is an attempt at proving why staying hydrated is so important for our health!
Water along with oxygen and food is essential for life and without water we could only survive a few days. Consisting of hydrogen and oxygen, it accounts for 50-80% of body weight and the mass of water decreases in both men and women with age. It is the main component of blood plasma (90%), 70% of muscle, skin and brain tissue, 20% of fat tissue and approximately 20% of bones.
WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF WATER?
- Water is found inside and between cells and a constant amount is necessary for cell function, in particular the movement of substances across cell membranes and all biochemical reactions.
- Water is used to split food components into smaller units that are then absorbed.
- Blood pressure regulation through maintenance of blood volume.
- Lubrication, water in saliva aids chewing and is a component of joint cartilage to stop joints rubbing together during movement.
- Regulation of temperature through generation of sweat to facilitate heat removal.
- Elimination of toxins that are made water soluble by the liver and elimination of wastes through the bowel.
HOW DO I TELL IF I’M DEHYDRATED?
Our fluid intake requirement depends on many factors including age, gender, environment, level of physical activity and rate of metabolism. The signs of dehydration (when fluid output exceeds intake) include thirst, headache, sleepiness, fatigue, dry lips, mouth and eyes, heat intolerance, constipation, infrequent urination and increased risk of developing urinary tract infections and kidney stones.
It is a startling fact that dehydration of 2% loss body weight may impair physiological responses and performance.
Besides looking for some of the above symptoms, it is important to take notice of the type of fluids that you are consuming. Tea and coffee have a diuretic affect and therefore deplete fluids, whilst alcohol has a similar effect by suppressing the release of anti diuretic hormone (ADH) from the posterior pituitary gland which acts to conserve water in the body. Dark coloured urine (orange), a high pulse rate (over 100) and decreased skin turgor are signs of dehydration.
Hydration is often a neglected factor in health and is why a naturopath will assess hydration status in all clients. A decline in body water status causes cell dysfunction and accelerates the ageing process.
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