By Deborah Adams

April rain showers refresh our earth to help green sprouts pop through the soil and blossom into a kaleidoscope of colors. We associate spring with water and dry, dead-looking landscape coming to life as the earth prepares for the summer season ahead. Water is vital for all known forms of life on earth and covers over 71% of the earth’s surface.

Now compare our body to our earth. We are made up of almost the same amount or water, about 65%. When the earth experiences drought, plant and animal life is at risk. When our body experiences dehydration, we are in great risk as well, but we often don’t see the signs of “drought in our body” as easily as we can see the withering brown leaves off our back porch in late July. Truth is, about 75% of us are walking around in a state of Chronic Dehydration. We think we are getting enough by drinking coffee, tea, soda, juice or beer. But many of these beverages have a diuretic effect which encourages our body to excrete water through urination rather than retain it to hydrate our cells. Think about a grape vs. a raisin: the grape is plump, full and juicy as it contains all of its natural water. The raisin is small, dry and shriveled because its water is gone.

Our body requires water to function. Water is how our nutrients, hormones and other elements are transported through our body, most often via our blood which is 82% water. Our body is composed of cells (including blood cells) and most of our body’s water is found within the cells. The next largest amount of water is in the fluid surrounding the cells. If we do not replenish our body with water frequently, this surrounding fluid accumulates waste materials and other toxins. Our body will not let ‘dirty water’ into our cells as it could cause cellular damage or cell death. In turn, if we don’t restock our body with clean water, our cells cannot get the water they need to stay full and plump like the fresh, juicy grape – they eventually turn into the shriveled up raisin. You may say “raisins contain concentrated nutrients” which may be true, but in the case of our human body – once our cells become chronically dehydrated – we are not concentrated with nutrients, we become filled with toxins which our body has no way of ridding without the help of clean, pure water.

Lack of water and toxic build-up leads to fluid retention, fatigue, weight gain, decreased muscle tone, dry and wrinkled skin, pain in our joints, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, digestive and urinary tract complications, and has been shown to heighten the risk of many types of cancers by 45-50%. Most shockingly, the gray matter in our brain actually shrinks without enough water. Our brain is composed of 95% water. Failing to drink enough water actually shrinks the gray matter in our brain. Researchers have discovered that dehydration not only shrinks the size of the brain but also affects how it works. According to their study, just 90 minutes of steady sweating can shrink brain tissue as much as a year of aging or to be specific, 14 months of age-related wear and tear. Just a 2% drop in body water can impair neuromuscular coordination, decrease concentration and slow thinking. But don’t stop exercising or enjoying time in the summer sun to save brain health because after just one or two glasses of water, the brain quickly returns to normal. Send some gratitude to the miraculous machine we live in that can recover so quickly after just 8-16 ounces of water! Imagine how you would feel if you met your body’s hydration and healthy food quota everyday . . . empowered with wellness . . . full of energy, free from many aches and pains, thinking clearly, sleeping better and enjoying life more.

Water is critical to the balance of all of our body’s systems; our brain, heart, kidneys, muscles, blood and lungs. Our lungs are nearly 90% water. Not getting enough water could affect your breathing – in fact – we lose 16 ounces of water per day simply from respiration. This is especially significant for those with asthma, COPD, or respiratory related illnesses.

So how much water do we actually need?

It takes about half of our body weight (in ounces) simply to allow our body to function normally. For example; if a person weighs 150 pounds they should drink 75 ounces per day or if they weigh 200 pounds, 100 ounces per day. That doesn’t take into account if we have consumed caffeine or alcohol which leaks water from our cells through its diuretic effect. It also doesn’t account for increased stress levels, a hot or dry environment, lack of quality sleep, poor diet or increased physical activity (our body can lose about 4 cups of water per hour of exercise and in a warmer climate, about ½ gallon of water just through perspiration). All these factors increase our body’s need for water yet we rarely meet our simple basic amount just to get by. And by the time we feel thirsty, our body is already dehydrated.

Fill up your water tank: the easiest way to stay hydrated is to drink at least eight ounces of water each hour you’re awake.  Try not to let large gaps of time go between water breaks – water will absorb into our cells better if we give it frequent smaller doses than one or two large doses.  Drink 16 ounces of water upon waking in the morning – sleep actually robs our body of water through all the repair work it does when we are asleep – keeping a water bottle on your nightstand and drinking if you wake in the night or right away upon waking will re-hydrate your thirsty cells. Make sure to drink water during and following any exercise or physical activity –if you don’t replenish your fluid loss during exercise, you will tire and possibly cramp muscles. Take water with you in your car, going into a meeting, sitting down to watch TV, or eating a meal. Drink extra water if you drink a caffeinated beverage such as soda, coffee or tea. Eat foods with high water content such as watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, lettuce, zucchini, celery, grapefruit, cantaloupe, peaches, oranges, cabbage, peppers, broccoli, raspberries, apricots and blueberries.

As our earth greens up with spring, let it be a reminder to keep your body healthy and alive with fresh, life-giving water so you can continue Living Wellness.