The Rules of Health No 3 – Hydration

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“Water is a basic nutrient for the human body and is critical to human life. It supports the digestion of food, absorption, transportation and use of nutrients and the elimination of toxins and wastes from the body”.
Professor Jamie Bartram of the World Health Organisation

how much water do you need to drink
Me – hydrating in Turkey

70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water and by some amazing coincidence your body is made of 70% water too.

The Importance of Water

All of us health addicts go on about drinking plenty of water and for good reason.
While you can loose 50% of your body sugar, fat or protein (muscle), before death occurs you can only loose 20% of your water.

It takes less than 1% dehydration for us to feel thirsty, despite still having so much of it left.
At 2% dehydration your brain and nervous system begin to feel like a fish out of water and give you a thumping headache for not getting the hint about being thirsty.
Drinking adequate water, like keeping good posture is one of those things most of us know to do more, but just don’t.

Hydration Controversy

It doesn’t help that there is some controversy over

1) how much we need
2) do tea coffee and fruit juices count as water
Well first of all we are about 70% water, and there are calculations which can determine the exact amount you need to take in for your body-weight under specific conditions. As we are varying our conditions though – through changes in temperature, varying levels of exercise etc. – our needs also fluctuate.
Our need for fluid in the form of drinks also varies with how much raw food we eat. A lettuce leaf for instance is 98% water. The more raw food you eat the more mineral and nutrient rich water you are getting, and so you will need to drink less.

The Rule of Thumb

A good rule of thumb is don’t wait until you are thirsty, drink about a cup per hour, or more if needed (or it may be less) so that you have to urinate once an hour! If you’re peeing once an hour, you are probably very well hydrated. However, a word to the wise – if you are peeing every hour but you are hardly drinking there may well be something wrong and you should seek medical advice.
Likewise if you are continuously thirsty for no reason then seek medical help too.

What About a Nice Cup of Tea?

is tea hydrating

Now for the second controversy – is tea as good as hydrating as water.

Well according to some studies yes it is. Even though tea does contain natural diuretics (chemicals that make you get rid of water) – after a while your body gets used to this.

My argument though, is that for optimum health we should put into our bodies the things it is most likely to recognise. Seeing as we evolved for most of our time here on earth drinking only water I would say stick to it.
Vegetable juice, freshly squeezed is probably even better though if you don’t eat enough raw food.
Fresh fruit juices tend to be too acidic, and too high in sugar, and are best taken as the whole fruit.
Tea and coffee are more natural than coke and other modern drinks. Green tea is increasingly shown to have many benefits, and the caffeine in it seems to have less of a detrimental effect on sleep than normal, maybe due to the other properties of the tea.

So just what does water do for us anyway? – Body Chemistry

Probably the most important property of water in the body is that many substances dissolve in it, like sugar and salt. This allows many chemical reactions to take place and helps transport and distribute them too. Without this function of water most of our bodily processes would just stop and so would we.
Water’s thermal conductivity and easy evaporation make it ideal for heat dispersion and temperature control – stopping parts of us from literally burning up, and bringing the heat to those parts that need it.
Water has a natural tendency to form droplets, causing a thin layer on the outside (of the droplet) to become surprisingly resistant to stretching. This ‘surface tension’ helps keep our lungs working properly.
Water also helps keep the inside of your body clean and removes waste – which is another argument for drinking water not tea – after all who would clean the outside of their body with a nice cup of tea?

Water is good for your back as well

Back pain

The discs between each of your vertebrae need to keep well hydrated in order to remain supple. If the water goes then the discs degenerate causing extra wear on the spinal joints and strain on the muscles.

Other tips – having a headache, or feeling hungry may actually be signs of dehydration, so rather than taking a pill, or eating, try drinking water first.

If you want to learn more about health and live in or around London,

come to see us at the Wellness Centre

Written by Dr Chris Pickard

Published on 31 Jul 2013


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