Dehydration – What It Is, What To Do

Dehydration is one of the most overlooked health problems in the western world. In an industrial society like the United States, where drinking water is or should be freely available to everyone, it’s strange to think of dehydration as a serious problem. But recent surveys have uncovered the fact that millions of Americans are not getting sufficient water. Dehydration is almost an epidemic.

Dehydration sounds mild compared to the illnesses and conditions we hear about every day. But what most people don’t realize is that dehydration can actually contribute to those illnesses. It can cause many other debilitating conditions, many of them so minor that we may mistake them for simple problems of aging or ordinary stress.

“I don’t feel thirsty, so I’m not dehydrated.”

Thirst is not the only indicator that your body needs water. Many of the minor ailments we think of as ordinary and inevitable nuisances — headaches, joint pain, dry eyes, allergies, dry skin and hair — can also be common symptoms of dehydration. Forgetfulness, tiredness, dizzy spells and blurred vision are often dismissed as normal experiences of the aging process, but they are often caused by dehydration. Older people often don’t drink enough water.

How Much Water Should I Drink?

Traditional medicine suggests that you weigh yourself, then divide your weight by 2. That’s the number of ounces of water you should drink per day. There are eight ounces in one cup, so a person who weighs, say, 200 pounds should drink 100 ounces or about twelve and a half cups — a bit over six pints — per day.

“I drink eight glasses of water a day, so I’m all right”.

Eight glasses a day is what they told you in school. But is it enough? How big a glass were they talking about? Check again to see if you have any of the above symptoms or health problems. If you do, try increasing your water intake. If you get relief or start feeling better, keep it up. Some people even lose a little weight as water helps metabolize fat.

Is Drinking Too Much Water Dangerous?

In 2007 a woman named Jennifer Strange died after drinking two gallons of water at one go trying to win a contest. Some doctors use this tragedy to warn people against drinking water. You will hear that drinking water increases blood pressure, puts a strain on your kidneys and impairs your cardiovascular system. Some doctors will even tell you that unless you exercise regularly, you shouldn’t need to drink water at all, especially if you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.

Naturally you shouldn’t overdo it, but there are a few other things to consider. You lose up to 2.5 liters of water over the course of the day, not just through urination and perspiration but even by breathing. If you exercise, you lose even more. That needs to be replenished so that the body can perform its normal tasks including blood circulation and digestion.

Most people in the industrialized world drink more carbonated soft drinks, sports drinks, coffee or tea than straight water or even fruit juice. These processed drinks contribute to dehydration. If you drink a lot of them, you might need to drink more water to keep things balanced.

I Don’t Like Plain Water

Many people dislike the taste of plain water. Some drinking water has a small amount of minerals added for taste. If you don’t like that, try adding a squirt of lemon or lime juice to your usual brand.

So-called vitamin water a sugared drink produced by Coca-Cola. The labels on the bottles contain clever messages touting the nutrients to be found within. In 2010, Coca-Cola was sued by a consumer watchdog group for misleading advertising. A company spokesman, trying to get the case dismissed, told reporters “no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitamin water was a healthy beverage.” If you want a healthy flavored water drink, make your own. Put water in the blender and add a handful of your favorite fruit.

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