The human body can live without food much longer than it can live without water. Most people do not know the benefits of drinking water. It isn’t called the “liquid of life” for nothing; it is critical for existence. Many people switch from drinking high-calorie drinks to water to help speed their weight-loss. But few people understand how truly beneficial water is to the human body.
Water provides the transportation service within the human body. It travels through cells while it combines with and breaks down chemicals like sodium, protein, fats and carbohydrates. Water is essential for expelling any toxins from the body. During urination, water carries ammonia and other waste materials from the organs out of the body. Good ol’ H2O is an integral part of every process within the human machine.
More Benefits of Drinking Water
Other benefits of adding water to your diet include lowering the pain caused by under-lubricated joints. Rheumatoid arthritis suffers often experience decreased pain when drinking an adequate amount of water each day. By the time you feel thirsty, you are dehydrated. Drinking several glasses of water daily – some experts recommend at least eight 8-ounce glasses per day – helps to alleviate thirst and lubricate joints. Water shortages in the disks of the spinal column cause low back pain because of the lack of cushioning. Drinking water regularly will limit the pain of many bone-related diseases.
Water is terrific for making your body regular. Everyone knows that being constipated is no fun. Many people with gastrointestinal diseases are lacking in hydration. Drinking soda, which contains sodium, can increase dehydration. Dehydration causes constipation and can lead to disorders like kidney stones and weakened kidney function. You probably would not imagine that drinking water leads to less water retention in the body. The human body tends to store water when it feels that water is scarce. Drinking more water allows the body to eliminate excess water without diuretic medications.
Improve Skin Tone
Drinking water instead of soda or sugary juices can help with skin tone. Dry skin comes from environmental and internal factors. Drinking plenty of water helps to eliminate the damage to skin that is caused by exposure to the sun and wind. Your cells require water to repair themselves. Without drinking water, there is no way to replenish water lost to sweat and wind. Water also helps to protect the tiny blood vessels near the surface of the skin, giving you a lovely glow. You can get adequate fluid from other sources including juice or tea but plain water is most easily absorbed by your body’s organs.
Water is healthy for your brain. Many studies have shown that the human brain is affected immediately when dehydration occurs. Your mental state is altered when you become dehydrated and hallucinations are not uncommon. Water helps to assist with normal brain function. Since brain cells and nerves do not regenerate like other cells in the body, water is essential to protect your brain. Water also protects your blood vessels, helping to provide oxygen-rich blood to the entire body.
Signs And Symptoms Of Dehydration
If you do not drink enough, sweat too much, or have severe diarrhea, you can become dehydrated. Mild to moderate dehydration isn’t that dangerous and can be corrected by drinking more fluids. If the dehydration worsens and becomes severe dehydration, you may need to have IV fluids to correct the condition. This recently happened to my father. He got dehydrated and couldn’t stand up. Once he received a 1-liter bag of saline solution, he regained use of his legs.
Here are some signs and symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration:
- Having a dry mouth
- Feeling fatigued or sleepy all the time
- Having increased thirstiness
- Having a decreased urine output with urine that is more yellow that it usually is
- Having dry or flaky skin
- Being dizzy
- Having a headache from low blood volume in the brain
- Crying without having many tears
If the dehydration is allowed to worsen and you continue to lose body water, you may see the following signs and symptoms:
- A severe reduction in the output of urine or the absence of urine at all. If there is any urine produced, it will be scant in amount and a deep yellow color or amber/brown color.
- Lightheadedness or severe dizziness that is worse when you stand up or get up from a reclining position.
- Orthostatic hypotension. This is a severe drop in blood pressure that occurs when you try to get up after sitting or lying down.
- Rapid heart rate from the heart trying to compensate for a low blood volume.
- Fever, which is usually low grade in nature
- Seizures, which are usually grand mal seizures
- Poor elasticity of the skin. When you pinch it, the skin tents up and doesn’t go back to its normal position.
- Being lethargic or confused
- Going into a coma
- Suffering from extreme shock, which can be life threatening.
Dehydration has a way of sneaking up on you, especially if you are otherwise occupied with other things, such as the activity you are doing or are wrapped up in being sick with vomiting and diarrhea. As soon as you start to feel the symptoms, you need to be thinking about hydrating yourself.
Treating Mild To Moderate Dehydration
If the symptoms are mild and you can still drink, try to step up the amount of fluids you are taking in. Water is perhaps the best choice for treating dehydration. Other good choices include Gatorade or PowerAde, which provide liquids plus electrolytes, which can be lost in sweating, vomiting, or having diarrhea.
If the problem is due to vomiting or diarrhea, you can buy some Pedialyte or your doctor may prescribe anti-emetic (anti-nausea) medication. These can be prescribed for you from your doctor.
Over the counter anti-diarrheal medication is another choice as long as the diarrhea isn’t from food poisoning. (In such cases, it is best to replace fluids only and allow the bacteria causing the diarrhea to flush out of your system).
Treating Severe Dehydration
If the dehydration is severe and you are suffering from some of the severe dehydration symptoms listed above, you need to consider checking yourself into a hospital and receiving IV fluids.
IV fluids have not only the water you need but contain sugars and salt solution that will restore your normal electrolyte balance. It can take as little as a liter of fluid to turn around the dehydration or as many as five or more liters of IV fluid.
Consequences Of Severe Dehydration
Besides seizures, one of the main consequences of severe dehydration includes damage to the kidneys. If the kidneys do not have fluid to flush through the tubules, you can actually suffer from acute kidney failure.
The kidneys can shut down and will only return to normal functioning with careful replacement of fluids and time. Replacing the fluids too fast, however, can result in cerebral edema and electrolyte disturbance within the brain.
To avoid these horrible consequences drink water regularly. This is easy when you always have access to water, by keeping a bottle of water in your car, and on your desk or near you wherever you work. You can even keep a small bottle in handbag and refill it throughout the day. No matter what your over-all health, water is an extremely valuable part of any diet regimen. Drinking plenty of water each day helps your body to perform in the best way possible.