Updated: Mar 3, 2019
If you could put your finger on the very first thing that determined your health and wellness, it might surprisingly be water. Or more specifically, drinking enough of it. It’s not a subject that we thank about much. But it should be. Most of us take it for granted. But have you ever taken a moment to think about how important water is to you? For the human body, water is a vital resource. You can go weeks without food but only 5-7 days without water. When the water in your body is reduced by just 1 percent, you become thirsty. At 5 percent, muscle strength and endurance declines significantly and you become hot and tired. When the loss reaches 10 percent, delirium and blurred vision occurs. At a 20 percent reduction, death results. Think about that. There is no more important nutrient for our body than water! Not a vitamin, not an exercise, not a lifestyle….Nothing. No other substance is as widely involved in the processes and makeup of the functioning body. Did you know, your body is about 60 percent water by weight? Blood is 92 percent water, the brain and muscles are 75 percent water, and bones are about 22 percent water.
Water weight does tend to change by age, but mostly because the sense of thirst dims with age. So as we age we tend to become less hydrated. But we can usher in premature aging quickly if we remain poorly hydrated. The more obese we are the lower the hydration levels too. While the average person is 55% water, the average obese person is only about 45% water.
If that’s not enough, Water helps to maintain a healthy body weight by increasing the metabolism and regulating the appetite. Water leads to increased energy levels, but a lack of it actually saps our energy. The most common cause of daytime fatigue is actually mild dehydration. The most common cause of adrenal fatigue is chronic dehydration and stress.
One study conducted by Loughborough University found that a mere 5% drop in water levels in the body can cause a 25-30% loss in energy. Even a 3% drop can cause fuzzy thinking, “brain fog” and a slower metabolism. Another study conducted by University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory found that even a 1.5% water loss led to reduced cognitive function, headaches and fatigue in 25 women and 26 men.
If that were not enough to motivate you, you should also realize that drinking adequate amounts of water can decrease the risk of certain types of cancers, including colon cancer, bladder cancer, and breast cancer because hydration helps speed the removal of wastes and toxins from the cell and the gut.
For a majority of pain sufferers, drinking water can significantly reduce joint and/or back pain, or at least its recurrence. Proper hydration leads to an overall greater health by flushing out wastes and bacteria that can cause disease. Water can prevent and alleviate headaches too (with adequate magnesium). Water also naturally moisturizes skin and ensures proper cellular formation underneath the layers of skin to give it a healthy, glowing appearance that prevents premature wrinkles. Water aids in the digestion process and prevents constipation. It is chronic constipation which leads to diseases of the colon. And, water is the primary mode of transportation for all nutrients in the body and is essential for proper circulation.
So hydration is important and pretty simple right? If it were that simple we could just go hydrate and be done with it. But, with all the different types of water out there and all the hype that goes with it, it can be very easy to get confused about which type of water is really best for your health and your body or how much water you should be drinking. Not a day goes by that I am not asked about filtered water, alkaline water, structured water or tap water, so, it’s time to clear up some confusion and help you take control of your health.
First let’s understand that there are many symptoms of dehydration, some we are aware of, some not so much. The major symptoms are thirst, dry skin, dark colored urine and fatigue, but by the time you experience those you are already dehydrated. So let’s take a look at some commonly overlooked symptoms of chronic dehydration. Do these sound familiar?
Digestive disturbances such as heartburn and constipation
Perhaps the most common side effect of dehydration is fatigue. The primary reason for this is that dehydration causes an immediate reduction in blood volume. Remember that your blood is over 90% water. This in turn will reduce your blood volume output from your heart (cardiac output) and cause a corresponding increase in blood stickiness or viscosity, increasing your risk of heart attacks and strokes. If you exercise in a dehydrated state there will also be a decreased skin blood flow, leading to a decreased sweat rate, leading to a decreased heat dissipation, which will increase the core temperature and lead to a higher chance of heat stress or heat stroke.
Exercise during a dehydrated state also leads to an increased rate of muscle glycogen use, which promotes early fatigue.
From a weight loss point of view, dehydration affects the ability of your body to burn fat. Not only that, but it also encourages excessive calorie consumption and slows down your metabolism. This leads to excess fat being stored in your body, including around your stomach. It is interesting to note that drinking enough water also has the opposite effect. In one study, researchers were able to determine that the metabolic rate increases by 30 percent after drinking just 2 cups of water. Further drinking just 8 ounces of water upon waking works better than a Red Bull.
Do you have seasonal allergies? Did you know that when your body is dehydrated your body will restrict the airways as a means of conserving its water? This causes an increase of histamine production which rises exponentially with dehydration leading to a higher allergy reaction.
Cholesterol and blood pressure also increase when you are dehydrated. As a result of dehydration the body produces more cholesterol in order to lower the loss rate of cellular water. The thickening of the blood during dehydration also causes the heart to work harder and drives up blood pressure.
So water and hydration is pretty important and people obviously do not drink enough of it. Many will substitute the water for coffee, tea, soda or juice beverages which actually promote more dehydration rather than the opposite.
Of course, when it comes to water, there's more to choose form than a happy child in a candy store. It’s not simply tap versus bottled anymore because the food industry got involved in profit making at the expense of our health and health is losing.
Let's closely examine each so you can make informed decisions about your water and your health.
Plain old tap water: It's easy. It's convenient and it comes right out of your kitchen faucet. However, as I'm sure you've heard, most tap water is contaminated with a host of pollutants (about 2100) that increase your risk of serious health problems.
Let's take a look at some of these contaminants and how they can adversely affect the health of you and your family.
The level of arsenic in US tap water is incredibly high. This poisonous element is a powerful carcinogen, which has been linked to an increased risk of the development of several types of cancer. In 2001 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lowered the maximum level of arsenic permitted in drinking water from 50 ug/L to 10 ug/L due to the established cancer risk. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates as many as 56 million Americans living in 25 states still drink water with arsenic at unsafe levels however.
You may have heard how aluminum increases your risk for Alzheimer's disease, but did you also know that the aluminum found in your municipal water supply can cause a wide variety of other health problems? Aluminum is linked to hyperactivity, learning disorders, gastrointestinal disease, Parkinson’s, liver disease and autism.
But tap water is not the only place you find it. You can also find aluminum in foods such as baking powder, self-rising flour, salt, baby formulas, coffee creamers, baked goods and processed foods, coloring and caking agents. It is in pharmaceutical drugs, such as antacids, analgesics and anti-diarrheals. We all know that vaccines have it, especially—Hepatitis A and B, Hib, DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), pneumococcal vaccine, Gardasil (HPV), and many others use it as a stabilizing agent to keep it shelf fresh. Many cosmetics and personal care products such as antiperspirants, deodorants (including salt crystals, made of alum), lotions, sunscreens, and shampoos contain it. And of course aluminum products, including foil, cans, juice pouches, tins, and water bottles contain it too.
We are told that fluoride in your drinking water prevents cavities and helps build strong teeth. This is blatantly untrue. As a recent study done on children in India reveals, fluoride is anything but a cavity fighter. Fluoride is toxic. So toxic in fact that the FDA requires toothpaste containing it to be labeled.
Prescription and OTC Drugs
You may have been told that if you dispose of your unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in the trash instead of the toilet that you do not run any risk of it ending up in the water supply. Wrong! Water drains through landfills especially when it rains. It’s known as the leach rate. Eventually it ends up in rivers and the water table. Although not all states source drinking water from rivers, many do. Add that to the tons of drugs and other substances flushed down the toilets daily and we have a massive issue with the water supply.