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Real Life Wellness: Drink your way to wellness

By Bill Hemmer
With all the heat to come over the next few months, we need to talk about dehydration. I tell my patients every day to drink enough water. When the heat index climbs over 100 degrees the amount of water you have in your body can literally be a matter of life or death.

But how about other times of the year? Is dehydration a problem? The answer is a huge YES! It has been estimated that up to 80 percent of the U.S. population is chronically dehydrated. Dehydration means the cells of your body don’t have enough water to do their jobs properly. And when your cells don’t work well you don’t work well.

One of the first signs of dehydration is less energy. For every 1 percent drop of water inside your cells there is a 10 percent drop in energy production. This is why if you are dehydrated from a long day of yard work, the amount of work you can do is decreased dramatically by the end of the day. You are literally drained of your energy.

Digestive problems are another early sign of dehydration. All the enzymes in your stomach and small intestines are water based. Often acid reflux is caused by too little water rather than too much stomach acids. This is because your stomach won’t move the food along if it is not digested. The food cannot be digested if there isn’t enough water around. Therefore, the food and the acid are pushed back up into your throat to cause the acid reflux.

Another common sign of dehydration is constipation. Your body uses a lot of water to take the nutrients out of your food during digestion. The more water you have available the better your digestion is. But the opposite is also true. If you don’t have enough water available your body will absorb all the water it can from your digestive tract. This slows down digestion and leads to constipation.

The final sign of dehydration that nobody thinks about is allergies. When you’re dehydrated your body makes more histamine. Histamine is released to help your body regulate your thirst response and to conserve the water that you already have in your body. This higher histamine level can lead to allergies. I bet you didn’t know that dehydration can lead to allergies, did you? Here’s how it works. When you’re dehydrated you produce more histamine. When you produce more histamine, your body produces another stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol decreases the number of white blood cells that are produced and that makes you more vulnerable to allergies.

So, drinking your 8 to 10 glasses of water a day is extremely important. And you must remember this is a minimum. For most people a good rule of thumb is 1 ounce for every 2 lbs. of body weight. So, if you’re 100 lbs. you should drink 50 ounces of water per day. So, drink up, your wellness truly does depend on it!

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