Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health
Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health

Drinking water, dehydration

Most people are dehydrated

Symptoms of dehydration

How much water to drink?

Warning - too much water

Most people are dehydrated

Dehydration is when your body contains less water than it needs for optimal health. It sounds incredible, but many people are dehydrated and they do not even know it. Dehydration is not the same thing as feeling thirsty, even though a feeling of thirst is a pretty good indicator of when you need a drink.

Humans are water-based animals that need constant and sufficient water. You need an ongoing supply of water to flush away wastes through your kidneys, for your digestive system to work, to prevent your body salts from getting too concentrated, to maintain your blood volume, to keep your brain working, and for every part of your body. Water is vital for the functioning of your electrical, energy, digestive and immune systems. It is essential for the storage of energy, the functioning of all organs, muscles, bones, nerves, and the transport of substances throughout the body and across cell membranes. You need a constant supply of water for a well-hydrated and healthy looking skin. Every aspect of a healthy body requires sufficient water.

Your sense of thirst is often a poor guide to when you are actually thirsty, and it gets worse as you age. Remember, when you feel thirsty, your fluid levels are already too low. Many old people do not realise that they are severely dehydrated. Numerous studies of nursing homes have shown that most inmates are in a constant state of dehydration, and one of the most effective means of improving their health and vitality is to ensure they drink sufficient water.

Symptoms of dehydration

An important sign of dehydration is the colour of your urine. Light yellow or straw-coloured urine is normal. Dark yellow, orange or brown urine is a sign of dehydration. If your urine has little colour and is almost like water, then you are probably drinking too much water.

How much water to drink?

Tea, coffee, sweet supermarket juices, colas and especially alcohol are dehydrating. The net effect of drinking them is less than pure water for your body's water needs.

You may be surprised to find how little water you drink. I challenge you to fill a litre (quart) bottle with water and note how long it takes you to drink it. You need a bottle that size every day, including winter. In summer, with heavy exercise, or with heavy sweating, you can at least double it. When you are giving your body a real workout, you can lose well over a litre of water an hour, through the moisture in your out-breath and your sweat.

I suggest that you drink a 200-250 ml glass of warm water on rising each morning, and wait at least half an hour before having breakfast. Drink a glass of water 30 minutes before other meals, or between meals.

A sick person should drink more water. If they have been dehydrated, sometimes there will be a remarkably quick recovery from an illness - within minutes or hours. The damage caused by dehydration over months or years will usually take a longer period of time to treat, because full re-hydration of the body at the cellular level is a slow process.

Warning - too much water

Many people drink too much water, a particularly bad practice with soft or mineral-deficient water (such as reverse osmosis or distilled water). It may leach valuable minerals from your body, and puts a strain on your kidneys. If your urine has no colour and looks almost like water, then you are probably drinking too much.

When increasing your water intake, it is important to ensure that your kidneys can process it. As you drink more water, your urine output should match it rather than retaining water in your body (indicated by increased weight or swelling in the legs or ankles). This is especially important if you are ill, when you should consult your doctor.