This article is written for Evolving Wellness by guest author Dr. Isaac Eliaz of DrEliaz.org.
Water is the most abundant, yet often the most overlooked substance in the body, and plays a critical role in a variety of natural processes. Since water represents roughly 83 percent of your blood volume, it is absolutely vital you stay hydrated and maintain a proper fluid balance within the body. Gaining a better understanding of how and why the body needs to stay in perfect balance when it comes to water levels will help you reach your required daily amount of fluids.
The basic concept of fluid balance is simple: when water intake equals water loss, the body is in fluid balance. When water loss is greater than intake, or vice versa, the body may experience a fluid imbalance. Since your body naturally works towards sustaining a water balance at all times, it sends out messages such as thirst sensation, stimulating nerve centers in the hypothalamus of the brain to encourage you to take a drink when you are thirsty. When there is an excess of water in the body, this thirst mechanism is suppressed, small amounts of an antidiuretic hormone are secreted, and the kidneys excrete this excess water through the urine.
In addition to understanding water balance, knowing how much water you lose on a daily basis, depending on your lifestyle, can give you a better idea of how much water you need. Water is lost in many different activities, such as exercise or heat exposure, but even people who maintain a sedentary lifestyle in a comfortable environment can lose water through the body’s normal processes. For example, the kidneys excrete approximately 1500 ml per day in the form of urine. About 500 ml per day is lost through perspiration, 300 ml from the lungs and 200 ml from the gastrointestinal tract. That means the average person can lose up to 2,500 ml of water per day without even actively moving around!
Athletes, people living in hot climates and those who are overweight may lose even more water on a daily basis, so these individuals typically require above normal levels of water intake. So what is considered normal intake? In general, most medical professionals recommend drinking eight cups of water per day, which originally stemmed from the National Academy of Sciences of the United States Food and Nutrition Board, which publishes recommended daily allowances of nutrients. However, this may vary depending on the factors I already mentioned.
Role in the Body
Getting adequate amounts of water is critical for overall health, as water assists in a number of natural processes within the body. Water serves as a communication vehicle in our body. Through its conductivity, it allows different parts of our body to communicate with each other. In an era of high stress and high pace that can lead to lack of communication, good hydration becomes more critical. Water also helps to:
- Remove wastes and toxins
- Transport nutrients and oxygen
- Control heart rate and blood pressure
- Regulate body temperature
- Lubricate joints
- Protect organs and tissues
- Create saliva
Unfortunately, the reality is that most of us function in a chronic state of dehydration. As your body gets used to this dehydration, you lose your sensitivity to water deprivation and do not feel thirsty when you need water. There are various causes of dehydration, including:
- Natural body functions such as breathing, sweating and urinating
- Diarrhea, nausea and vomiting when you are ill
- Physical activity
- Aging and weight gain – infants, children, older adults, women, and overweight individuals tend to be at higher risk of getting dehydrated, as they frequently pass water and electrolytes out of the body
- Alcohol, caffeine and poor diet – including highly-processed foods, foods high in salt or sugar, coffee, and sodas
- Diseases, such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis and kidney disease increase dehydration risk as they cause people to urinate or sweat more frequently. For more information about diabetes and pre-diabetes or Metabolic Syndrome, download a complimentary wellness guide.
While all of these factors can cause dehydration and water loss, there are many ways to stay hydrated. For example, drinking at least eight cups of water every day, eating whole foods such as lettuce, cucumbers, watermelon, and broccoli, which are high in water content, and avoiding foods and drinks that cause dehydration, can all keep you well hydrated.
Those who dislike drinking plain water can opt for decaffeinated herbal teas, water with a squeeze of lemon and low-sodium vegetable soups. However, when it comes to hydration, it is best to drink plain water. When choosing plain water, however, be sure to drink water that has been properly filtered, in order to effectively remove chlorine, fluoride, nitrates, and other chemicals.
About the Author
Dr. Isaac Eliaz is a respected author, lecturer, researcher, product formulator, and clinical practitioner. He has been a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine since the early 1980s. Dr. Eliaz is a frequent guest lecturer on integrative medical approaches to health, immune enhancement, cancer prevention and treatment. For more information about natural chelation and healthy diet recommendations, visit www.dreliaz.org.