Water, Water Everywhere and Not A Drop to Drink


We are surrounded by water, our bodies are made up of mostly water, most of our body reactions involve the use of water, and yet how much water do we consciously replace each day? Research suggests that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated and that the lack of water may be the number one trigger of daytime fatigue. Want to lose weight? In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger. Even mild dehydration can slow down one’s metabolism as much as 3%. Research suggests that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated and this can account for numerous symptoms and issues. Even when you exercise, eat well and take vitamins, you still have issues... lack of water may be the reason. So what can water actually do for you?

* In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger. * Even mild dehydration can slow down one’s metabolism as much as 3%. * One glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study. * Lack of water is the number one trigger of daytime fatigue. * 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers. * A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page. * Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.

Let’s just look at your mechanism for nutrition as an example. Following a meal the food you have eaten is gradually digested and absorbed into the bloodstream from the digestive tract. The blood then delivers these nutrients to all cells of the body. The cells take these nutrients and produce energy, repair themselves, make hormones and carry on the numerous processes that make up life. The waste products of these functions are passed back into the bloodstream for eventual elimination.

So what ensures that all of these functions occur optimally? Water. Hydration is the most essential aspect of health. Every patient I see, our conversation begins with how much water do you drink? And I always receive the same response, not enough.

Each cell, tissue and structure of the human body consists of small pieces awash in bodily fluid. The fluid provides protection, warmth and a medium through which nutrition and waste products can move from place to place. Your body is dependent on this system of channels and canals for the movement of hormones, enzymes, vitamins and minerals from the digestive tract to each individual cell. Even your blood is comprised of plasma, which is essentially what? Cells in water.

It is very easy for an individual to become dehydrated, in other words, to lose precious moisture, inhibiting these essential watery pathways. Just imagine a river that dries up. Everything that the river carried, people, boats, cargo, fish, plants, sediment, seeds... are all stopped. Stagnation occurs. This is exactly the same thing in the human body. Without the river of life within your body, toxins will settle into tissues instead of being removed, nutrition will be lost, chemical reactions for metabolism will not take place, enzymes will not have an effect and your hormones will never reach their target tissues.

Dehydration also causes cells to buckle and wither, reducing their ability to absorb anything through their membranes, and eventually to die. In fact, lack of hydration causes more cellular destruction than the action of free radicals. So taking antioxidants seems like a lost act when you don’t drink enough water. In addition many of the things we take such as fiber, pharmaceutical drugs or even beverage choices such as tea, actually use more water than they provide in order for the body to process them. So all of that water should be replaced as well.

Here are some of the most common causes of dehydration:

Not enough fluid intake: Many people make the mistake of telling us "...but I drink so much water!" Fluid intake for hydration is not simply water. It is also how your body handles water. If you don’t have enough magnesium, if the water is too cold, if you drink too much in one sitting... all of these factors can reduce how much water your body will use. In fact for many people more water can be absorbed from water-soaked foods such as fruits and fleshy vegetables, and juices, particularly apricot, pineapple and cranberry, which contain essential minerals such as magnesium that make water absorption possible. For anyone who is athletic, or while exercising, replacing lost fluid intake with water alone will lead to slower physiological function when compared with regular use of natural juices or rehydration drinks throughout the day. Taking additional magnesium will increase your ability to absorb the water you drink. Also, remembering that fluids with water do not necessarily mean they provide water, such as tea, coffee or water with additives.

Dry environment: In the summer with air conditioning and in the winter with heating, we tend to forget that these will actually draw water out of the air, making our environment very drying. We notice this most in the morning when we wake up with a dry and scratchy throat, or a nose full of congestion. Try using a humidifier in your home, particularly while you are sleeping. You can even add some lavender to the water as an antibacterial agent.

Lack of essential minerals: Many minerals control our ability to absorb and utilize water, such as sodium and magnesium. If we lack these essential electrolytes, we can drink all the fluid we want, but it won’t increase our tissue hydration. 60% of the resting energy demands of the body go toward moving electrolytes back and forth across cell membranes. As this happens, electrolytes help transport nutrients into, and waste materials out of the cells. Thus, electrolytes could be said to be the ultimate controllers of cell processes, because without them no cellular functions could take place.

Kidney problems: If our kidneys are clogged or operating at a lower functional ability, we will tend to develop fluid balance problems. This is especially true if we also have a glandular problem, such as low thyroid. Nettle Leaf is a great option which helps the fluid movement through the kidneys while also giving you the largest resource of minerals in the herbal kingdom.

Intense exercise: When you begin to exercise, blood is shunted away from the digestive tract and into the muscles. This means that absorption from the intestines is reduced. Muscle cells require these nutrients at a much higher rate during exercise. In particular, simple glucose, protein, oxygen, electrolytes [especially magnesium] are needed. The mitochondria within the cells produce energy from these materials.

Increased perspiration: As you perspire, water moves from the muscle out onto the skin as sweat. As sweat dried, your body is cooled. To replace this lost fluid, water comes from the blood into the muscles. This must then be replaced rapidly, or your health and performance suffers. This water loss from sweat causes your temperature to go up and your circulation to go down. The loss of one to two quarts of water per hour is common in many athletes for example causing severe dehydration.

So before seeking a solution to your symptoms on the internet, try looking at a glass of water. You may find more than you realize and for much less money!

Karen Clickner, N.D. is the founder and director of ISIS Holistic Clinic & The Waters of ISIS Body Purification Spa in Brookline, MA with offices in London and Geneva. www.isisboston.com