YOUR BODY'S CALL FOR WATER: Keeping a Whimper from Becoming a Shout
Our bodies have been signaling us all our lives, but we may not have recognized their pleas, especially when it comes to the demand for water. Most people notice the symptoms, but attribute them to other sources than dehydration. As they begin interpreting their bodies’ call for water, what once seemed like a whimper will sound like a shout.
Gene’s body gives him a literal wake-up call when his legs cramp so badly in the middle of the night that he jumps out of bed in agony. His sleepy wife mumbles, "Honey, you forgot to drink water, right?"
He rubs the painful knots. "Yes, and I mowed the lawn in the heat."
Everyone has different susceptibilities. Jan notices a plaguing mind fog when she neglects her water drinking. My neighbor avoids kidney stones when she follows her doctor’s prescription: one gallon of water per day. She wishes she’d have stayed well hydrated before she developed kidney disease because now she must drink way more than the norm for her body weight.
My early warnings are the most common symptoms—mild constipation and dry eyes. Dr. Batmanghelidj, M.D says if we don’t heed the milder signals, our bodies will give more serious shouts such as blood clots, stomach ulcers, type II diabetes, migraines, back pain and obesity.
Georgia Williams, only 35 and previously healthy, woke up one morning blind in one eye. Horrified, she visited her doctor to learn the probable cause: dehydration due to lifestyle. Drinking coffee for energy by day and calming wine at night, she had neglected water. These "harmless beverages" had acted as diuretics to rob her of fluids that could have prevented the damaging blood clot.
Realizing her risk of developing more clots, her doctor ordered Georgia to drink two liters of water per day. Even knowing her life depended upon it, she had to make a determined effort to stay hydrated.
When we are drinking the optimal amount of water each day, we can avoid or delay health problems, even those associated with aging, and function better and more fully. Every bodily function depends on multiple complex water-regulated and water-transported chemical reactions. Current research increasingly emphasizes the importance of optimal hydration in general health.
Dr. Batmanghelidj is a leader in treating multiple diseases with water. His primary prescription of adequate hydration has afforded him over 20 years of clinical and scientific research documenting successes in preventing and curing diseases with water. Dr. George F. Grant has come to similar conclusions in his work with patients.
Their research affirms that water is as life-giving as air, but water drinking is not as natural as breathing. Drinking enough water to be optimally hydrated is a simple solution, but it may be difficult to apply. As I learned about water's vital importance and acquired a few simple techniques to help me stay hydrated, I championed this natural, inexpensive health corrective. Some of my friends even think I'm a bit of a "drippy faucet" on the subject. You might have heard that good health requires a minimum of eight cups of water per day.
Now, many reliable health sources recommend
1 ounce of water each day for each 2 pounds of body weight.
Dr. Batmanghelidj advocates this plus water gained by eating fruits and vegetables. He also suggests balancing daily water and sodium intake by being sure you’ve ingested at least half a teaspoon (2,000 milligrams) of salt daily.
DON'T RELY ON FEELINGS OF THIRST TO PROMPT YOU TO DRINK WATER. Meeting these daily water quotas can seem extravagant and unnecessary. No thirst; no need, right? Problem is, our thirst sensors are delayed, and we often misinterpret our body's cry for water as hunger because the body's thirst and hunger sensors are closely related.
Poor thirst sensors are especially problematic as they grow increasingly dull with age. By 50, most people have significantly reduced their ability to thirst for water. By age 60, drinking water only when you're noticeably thirsty will leave you chronically dehydrated and suffering from related illnesses.
Learn your body's early warning signs of dehydration. Frequency and quality of bowel movements is one of the most common. In trying to explain this to my friend, I said, “Fluffy floaters rule the stool.”
She grimaced. “Sounds like a joke, but I don’t get it.”
I chuckle. “I thought everyone knew the poop scoop. It’s like this. Floaters stay at the top of the water. The surface loosely packed. Adequate dietary fiber and fluids make floaters—healthy stool. Sinkers rest at the bottom. The surface smooth and clay-like.”
Sinking stool left unchecked, may cause colon problems. It is certainly a signal that all is not well with your body. The good news is a simple fix—hydration.
OPTIMAL HEALTH REQUIRES INTENTIONAL ACTION:Nothing replaces clean water, and some drinks hinder hydration. Alcohol and caffeine expels our body's valuable supply of water at an even faster rate thus depleting rather than hydrating, as Georgia learned through blindness. If you indulge in caffeine, carbonation or alcohol, Dr. Batmanghelidj recommends drinking an additional 1 1/2 ounces of water for each ounce of those beverages.
Helpful tips to keep water flowing:
- Keep water readily available and drink often.
- Avoid caffeine in beverages and chocolates, or compensate with extra water as indicated above.
- Have nutritious soups.
- Increase intake if you perspire, suffer sinus drainage, vomiting or diarrhea.
- Consult pharmacists or physicians about replenishing any extra water loss that can be a side effect of many prescribed or over-the-counter medications.
- Set up reminders and quick measuring options to easily incorporate water drinking into your life.
I keep water in easy access at all times, even by my bed at night and in the bathroom. Each morning, I measure enough water for 24 hours into a large glass pitcher. I use it to fill multiple large glasses and place them in every room I’ll frequent. If needed, I set an alarm clock as a "sip reminder." TV commercials can serve as cues for water drinking, too. If water remains by the day’s end, I drink more when I wake in the night. When working away from home, I tote a 32-ounce container and note how many times I refill it. Since becoming an intentional water drinker, I feel better and sleep better, my eyes don't burn, and my digestion works better, too.
The Possibility – Lose Nothing; Gain Everything
As water is readily available, all natural, and free, it’s worth self-hydrating for optimum health. Recognize your body’s cry for water, and get in the flow with self-hydration. Like Georgia Williams who suffered blindness or Michael Foudy, who long endured borderline hypertension, water may heal you.
Georgia followed her doctor’s order to drink 2 liters of water a day and regained most of her vision. Michael wrote, “After following Dr. Batmanghelidj's advice, my condition corrected itself within six weeks.”
Go for it! Test and see what a little water will do for you. The first chance you get, buy a water pitcher inscribed, “Fountain of Youth,” and drink to your health.