I know, I know…you think you drink enough water. You’re not thirsty, right? A few years ago, I thought the same. Even though two Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners told me to drink more water. Even though my opthalmologist despaired over my dry eyes. Even though I had allergies, frequent headaches, dark circles under my eyes and kept gaining weight that I just could not lose. I was certain I didn’t need to drink more water. Then, based on some research I’d done and for entirely different health reasons, I made a decision to stop taking over-the-counter allergy medication and drinking carbonated beverages. That pushed me to start drinking much more water than usual and I found out what it’s like to really be hydrated. The headaches and allergies disappeared and the opthalmologist didn’t nag me about dry eyes for the first time ever. I dropped 15 pounds without even trying. I began to have more energy and to sleep better. Wow, this hydration thing was pretty cool!
As a result of my own experience, I became more aware of dehydration as a health concern. When I became a holistic practitioner, I was introduced to a book by the late Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, M.D. (Dr. B for brevity’s sake), entitled Your Body’s Many Cries For Water. Dr B’s books explain his theory that the body has a drought management system and when it doesn’t have enough water it begins shutting down normal operations, beginning with the lungs and digestive system (high asthma rates and increasing obesity levels) and on a longer-term basis other systems including the brain (increasing dementia and Alzheimer’s rates). His book documented some remarkable results in helping asthma sufferers with appropriate water and sodium intake.
I believe Dr B was on to something about dehydration becoming chronic in our population. Most of us find it easy to stop for a coffee or soda, and never bother to drink just simple water. There isn’t a lot of research or advertising when it comes to just plain water and so we don’t have an awareness about it. Many of us don’t understand that caffeinated beverages act to dehydrate us further or how much of our body is water: muscles 75%; blood 82%; lungs 90%; brain 76%; bones 25%. Trying to run your body without adding water routinely is like trying to run your car without oil in the engine.
As I work with my clients, I find it’s a simple task to identify those who drink enough water. Their skin feels healthy and more elastic when touched. They seldom have complaints about allergies, headaches, constipation, joint pain and other common ailments. They seem to need detox therapy less than clients who don’t drink much water. What scares me, however, is that over 70% of my clients fall into the don’t-drink-water-consistently category. When asked how much water they drink, they’ll sheepishly admit they don’t drink enough or tell me they think they do, but then talk about an intake of just one or two cups a day. Those clients who educate themselves more about drinking water and commit to it are often astonished by the benefits and surprised that I can tell almost immediately.
Most of us don’t know how much water we should drink. Dr B provided a simple guideline in his book. Divide your weight (in pounds) in half, then drink that many ounces of water per day. For example, if you weigh 170 pounds, you need to drink at least 85 ounces. There are 8 ounces in a cup, so that works out to a little more than 10 cups per day. If you drink something with caffeine in it, drink an extra cup of water to offset it. Dr B reiterated that we are misinterpreting many cues from our body as illnesses rather than requests for water. For example, two glasses of water will usually alleviate a headache. Try a glass of water rather than a snack the next time you think you’re hungry. You just might be surprised and delighted by what regular water intake can do for you!
This is the disclaimer to remind you that I am not a licensed physician and cannot give medical advice or treatment. These are my personal opinions and the summarization of research as well as verbal and written reports of some of my clients. As always, consult your doctor if you need medical advice or treatment.