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WATER -- More Than Just Hydration

Water...the vital source of life, the real fountain of Youth.  You can survive without food longer than without water.  We are always advised to drink more water, yet no one explains why.  There are two key factors to proper hydration -- quantity and quality.

Mositure is required for all the organ systems in the body.  It maintains elasticity in skin, muscle, and connective tissue.  Plants that are not getting enough water become brittle and dry out.  This is true for the human body as well, except that it may not be as obvious.  A good rule of thumb is to try to consume enough water to equal one-half of ones's recommended body weight in ounces.  For example, a person who weights 120 lbs. should drink 60 oz. of quality fluid per day, provided they are not over or under weight.

Hydration begins with drinking the proper types of fluid.  Avoid caffeinated and sugar-based beverages because they work against hydration.  Caffeine is a diuretic, which robs the body of fluid, and sugar detracts from the absorption process. People who find water to lack flavor, can find creative ways to increase water intake, such as mixing in a little bit of fruit juice or tea.  This flavors the water to make it more palatable.  Plain water that is free of contaminants is still the easiest for the body to absorb and utilize.

Tap water is likely the worst source of water.  it is full of chemicals, such as chlorine, ammonia, and even traces of prescription drugs.  In this day and age there are many alternate sources for tap water, such as bottled water.  However, many companies simply purify tap water and bottle it.  The purification process usually involves chemicals or ultraviolet treatment to kill bacteria and other impurities.  These processes also remove salts and minerals that are necessary for absorption into the body.  Another concern with bottled water is the plastic bottles.  Have you ever wondered why bottled water has an expiration date?

Spring water is generally a good choice depending on the source.  Being informed and reading labels is the best way to differentiate water quality.  Perhaps the easiest and most cost-effective option is to invest in a water filtration system; this requires some homework, as there are many inferior filters on the market.  The best systems have multiple filtration levels that are capable of removing impurities almost as well as a dialysis machine without sacrificing nutritional content.

The human body requires water to function properly.  Consider hydration level when addressing physical ailments.  Muscle cramping, wrinkled or dry skin, constipation, and headaches are a few examples of health issues stemming from lack of proper hydration.  Simply by increasing water consumption could be the answer to resolving many common health concerns.

S. Swearengen, DOM, AP

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