Post # 208 Water Water Everywhere . . . pt 2

January 13, 2014 at 2:52 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 208 Water Water Everywhere . . . pt 2

Okay, we’re back to learn more about water.  Water can help you; water can harm you.  Like all living things, humans need a certain amount of water each day.  A good example to watch is plants.  When you underwater them, they die.  When you overwater them, they die.  Strike the right balance, and keep it, the plant thrives.  If you watch the plant closely, you can tell when it needs to be watered.  It gets droopy, it looks dry and brittle, it starts to shrink in on itself, it loses leaves.  It does what it can to conserve itself with limited water.

Humans are the same.  Water is necessary based on body temp, activity, size, as well as other factors.  We’re all fairly familiar with dehydration.  Here in the desert, it’s a common fact of life, and no one I know ever walks outside during the summer for any length of time without some container of water.  Dehydration is having too little water.  This can also involve loss of body nutrients such as sodium, but for this discussion, we’re going with the simplest definition.  The body starts reacting with as little as a 2% loss of water.  If you’re experiencing headaches, are thirsty, irritable for no reason, and your urine is dark yellow colored, you need more water.  Your mouth may be dry; you might experience dizziness when standing; and you might be tired for no reason.  Drink water and relax for several minutes.  Further symptoms may develop if you don’t drink something.  Your skin may look flaky.  You may suffer from sleep loss.  Don’t let the condition go further.  Drink when you’re thirsty, stop when you’re full.

The reverse is also true.  Humans can drink too much water.  Typically, this occurs during sporting events.  There have been several cases of marathoners drinking too much water and needing hospitalization.  When the balance of fluid in the body goes up, the body has several mechanisms to help re-establish the balance.  We piss out as much excess water as our kidneys and bladder can handle.  However, if this isn’t effective enough, and most times it is, water is transferred to other “holding pens” aka our cells.  Someone who is well hydrated will show it in their skin.  Water is the best thing for your complexion.  However, if the cells get too much water, they swell, and sometimes burst.  If the cells in the brain start expanding from too much water, serious problems can result.  Cells in the lungs are designed for  air/moisture transfer so are much more elastic than skins cells, for instance.  If the cell walls break in the lungs, the body basically drowns on dry land.  However, it really takes a lot for over-hydration to take place.

So going back to an earlier point, how much water is the right amount for an individual?  There has been a lot of discussion about this over the past decades.  The standard for years has been the “8×8 Rule” which means 8 glasses of water of 8 ounces each.  As I showed on Friday, that equates to a half-gallon of water per day.  However, for smaller people, that may be too much, and for larger people, it might not be enough.  Serious athletes contend with the water issue by taking their weight before an event and after an event.  The difference is how much water they lost during the event.  They then extrapolate from that how much water is right for them.  Recently, though, scientists and nutritionists have been replacing the older theories with newer knowledge gained.  The human body is a pretty smart machine and has fail-safes built in if we pay attention to them, just as we paid attention to our plant friend.  Drink when you’re thirsty.  Many people used to think that if you are thirsty, it’s past the “danger point” but that isn’t necessarily true.  Drink when you first notice you’re thirsty.  If you wait until after that point, then you’re waiting too long.  How much should you drink when you’re thirsty?  That’s a little more difficult to answer.  When I get thirsty, I drink several swallows then stop.  If I’m still thirsty after several minutes (I use 10 as my guide), then I drink more.  It works for me.

The body also has several ways to tell you that you’re drinking enough water.  The most important and most visual is your urine.  There’s a reason hospitals watch urine output.  When your body is well hydrated, your urine is clear or pale yellow to a lemonade color.  When you need water, the yellow color will deepen.  When you’re getting into the worrisome areas, urine will change from deep yellow to orange-ish.  If urine is ever deep orange or red, got to your doctor.  Something else is wrong.  Another sign that you are well hydrated is an overall sense of well being.  Proper water amounts keeps the body in balance.  Barring any other diseases, being well hydrated will keep your joints flexible and easily functioning.  Your internal organs will function properly.  Your digestion will be normal.  Your skin will look healthy, your eyes bright, your hair shiny.  It just takes paying attention.  However, most people are border line dehydrated.  And they’ve been this way for so long that they don’t realize they are.  One of the first things they do in the hospital when you’re admitted is to stick a saline bag into your arm to be certain you’re well hydrated.  Older people and younger people tend to be more dehydrated for various reasons so be aware.

Going back to another point from Friday’s post, where exactly can we get water from?  The body will extract the fluid it needs from whatever it’s given.  The old stories about “drinking your own urine” are true and can be helpful, although I wouldn’t suggest it except in times of real need.  You’ll know what those are.  But nearly every food we eat has some water content.  Think crackers.  Then think soup with those crackers and you’re doing fine.  But when you’re lifting a glass or cup to your mouth, what should be in it?  I asked this question incessantly years ago, looking for an excuse to be able to drink soda the way I wanted.  I’d love to say that because of my travels I had to drink bottled drinks for safety, but this was long before I started traveling.  I just wanted to drink Pepsi.  However, thinking logically about what’s in the glass, what beverage is the easiest to be assimilated into the body?  Yeah, that would be water.  In the U.S., barring any accidents (think West Virginia right now), most city water is treated well enough to be able to be swallowed right out of the front yard hose.  Some people have treated water in their homes, and others bring in bottled water.  Many years ago, when I was living with my sister and her husband while in college, we were shopping for the month and she grabbed toothpaste without fluoride in it.  When I asked her about it, she said that we got fluoride in our water.  I scoffed at her, “You spent $1500 on a reverse osmosis system to get all the junk out of your water.  You really think fluoride is going to make it through that?”  But really, water is the best.  Sports drinks add sugars and “nutrients” that the average body just doesn’t need.  Teas, coffee, sodas, etc. add sugars and caffeine and chemicals that are fine, but not necessary, and create other situations in the body, like sleeplessness.  Juices are good since they add real nutrients and some roughage in addition to the water, but you have to be careful that the goodness isn’t processed out of the juice.

Well, I suppose you’re bored with water by this time.  Just remember, drink when you’re thirsty and you’ll be fine.



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