More than half of our total body weight is water, just plain old water. A newborn baby is about three-quarters fluids. Our brain is amazingly made up of nearly 85 percent water!  One doctor (Mark Stengler, N.D.) has said that our bodies are really  the middle of a streambed as the water is coming in through various paths and going out in nearly as many ways (urine about 60 %, sweat 20%, respiration loss 15%, and stool 5%).   Medical doctor James F. Balch (Author, Prescription For Nutritional Healing) has said that the body’s water supply is responsible for and involved in nearly every body process including digestion, absorption, circulation, and excretion. Also he (Balch) states that water is essential to maintain normal body temperature. Situations in which humans endure extreme deprivation have shown that a person can survive without food for as long as four or five weeks but can survive only four or five days without water. 

  

Everybody loves clean water
Everybody loves clean water!

   One page on The Cleveland Clinic web site says that getting enough fluid is essential for top (athletic) performance. Losing just 2% to 3% of your weight from water loss can decrease your performance by 10% to 15%. Further down the same page the author says that dehydration is the loss of water from body tissues. It disturbs the balance of essential substances in your body – particularly sodium, potassium and chloride. Dehydration not only decreases your performance, but also can seriously impair yourhealth. Signs of dehydration include dark urine, a small amount of urine, rapid heart rate, headaches, flushed or dry skin, coated tongue, irritability and confusion. The Mayo Clinic cautions that beverages with caffeine or alcohol can increase fluid output, making it more difficult to get enough water intake . So just as I thought, all liquids are not the same!

 

So now that we (likely) all agree about the great need for water some questions still remain.  Water:  how important is it to my health and do I drink enough? I can’t be deficient, can I? After all, when I’m thirsty, I drink, right? So how could I not have enough of something so common and easily obtained? 

Of course, I know I’m not in any danger of dying of thirst or suffering a collapse.  I suspect, however, that I (and perhaps most of you) have been seriously slowed down by unrecognized thirst in the past. Let me illustrate by my experience: For many years I have known that many doctors and other healthcare professionals advise drinking eight 8 ounce glasses of water each day (the so called 8×8 rule).  Until a few months ago I shrugged this off as “excess”. Who can drink eight big glasses of water on top of the coffee, teas, milk, and/or pop most of us drink daily? But this advice nagged at me.  I began to look for signs of subtle, unrecognized thirst. I remember that my mouth was often extremely dry, especially when waking up at night after (apparently) breathing through my mouth when deep asleep.  Another observation of mine was that I often had quite dark urine. Many days I felt tired or sluggish, even though I had eight or more hours of sleep. My eyes also felt dry many times. Constipation was another frequent problem. Of course I realize my age has something to do with this (I’m 70). But, always the optimist, I thought I could improve these symptoms.    

clean simplicity refreshing
Ah, so refreshing!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                

 I “forced” myself to start drinking more water. I bought a water filter pitcher (a Clear 2 O, but other brands are good as well). Using this pitcher freed me from drinking the city tap water (and saved on bottled water). In addition to the chlorine and (possible) toxins contained in it the city water was usually too cold or, sometimes too warm to enjoy drinking a whole glassful at once. I found the water tasted better also so I actually started to look forward to my “extra water” instead of looking at it as a chore (like taking medicine). One thing I did was to make sure I drank a full glass of water before having my first cup of coffee in the morning. I also drank water (an 8 ounce glass) before going to bed at night. And I tried to be diligent in getting an extra four or five glasses during the day and early evening. The change in my symptoms likely caused by thirst was gradual, but impressive and welcome!  The greatest blessing was the improvement in my somewhat severe constipation problem. Those of you unfortunates who have had this curse know how miserable it can make your life. (Note that I also eat as many salads and fresh veggies and fruits as I reasonably can, and I exercise.  But I was doing this well before I started the extra water regimen so I don’t think those things alone caused my improvement). On more and more days I felt energetic. The feeling of being tired or sluggish was much less frequent. My urine was nearly clear or very light yellow. My eyes are less dry now and my mouth is seldom anywhere near as dry as before. The most obvious improvement in a symptom:  I don’t feel as thirsty as often as before (yeah, I know, rocket science).

While I think my experience is fairly typical of someone my age and activity level I caution you to not blindly follow my action plan regarding water intake. Everyone is different. Your results may not be the same. Get an exam or physical from a medical doctor before starting a major change in your diet or fluid intake. And be aware that thirst symptoms can be caused by other conditions, some serious (such as diabetes). Use due diligence in your health plan.

How Sad (something more)
While we obsess about the correct water intake, there are still over an estimated 1,067,789,000 people that do not have easy access to clean drinking water according to WHO/UNICEF statistics.  You and I can help make things better. One organization that is doing great good, IMHO, is CharityWater.org. Go to their website, watch the amazing video, and donate if you can. (Clean) water is that important.