I was in third grade when I started snooping in my older sister's high school literature books. I had all I needed with Dick and Jane, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, the girl with the crazy braids and freckles (what’s her face -- ah, yeah, Pippy Longstocking). Then there was Nancy Drew who began to annoy me because her stories all ended the same. Yawn. But the classics were much more interesting and expanded my vocabulary. So each time I snuck into my sister’s bedroom to tackle the stanzas of the 18th century, Rime of the Ancyent Marinere, my heart pounded with the way Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s words sang to me. As a little kid, what was most memorable about the long, poetic tale of an old, guilt-ridden sailor were the words, “water, water, every where nor any drop to drink.”
Stuck at sea during a violent storm with his dying crewmates and the ghost of a huge dead bird, there was so much water yet they dared not drink it. Seawater is not palatable and would only make you thirstier because of its salt content. Dehydrated and hallucinating, they could have used a few flasks of good, pure water.
We know eight glasses of H2O are recommended daily, but did you know how important the natural resource is to your every day health? Our bodies are 70 percent water and our cells and organs need to be juiced, oiled and hydrated, so that like any well-maintained machine, all parts can run smoothly.
International fitness guru MaDonna Grimes says most people don’t drink water because they’re not used to having it in their lifestyles. Grimes is a former Daytonian who is based in Los Angeles, helping people all over the world tone, lose weight, achieve and maintain better health. “I think not being a regular water drinker stems from your background,” she says. “When you were growing up, if you saw your parents drinking water, you will drink water, if parents didn’t drink water, chances are you won’t be a water consumer.”
When Grimes gives her clients eating plans, she includes a healthy schedule of drinking water. It flushes your body and helps break down food to make it easier to digest and eventually eliminate. It even packs enough power to clear your skin of its impurities and revs up your metabolism. And since it’s easy to lose your water content, you have to re-deliver to keep everything in balance. If not, you can become dehydrated which can make you dangerously ill. The experts say for the most part, adults should drink 6-8 cups of water a day, but most do not. Depending on your age, size and activity, you might need different amounts. Always drink when you feel thirsty, of course, but dizziness, unusual hunger or dark colored urine could mean you might not be getting enough water.
Here’s what I learned from Brita.com: every organ from your skin to your brain needs enough hydration to function. Think of a healthy plant and how it thrives when it’s watered properly. Drinking six to eight glasses of water a day can produce the same results. Food is digested easier when you consume large amounts of water, metabolizing fat when the kidneys and liver function well. Kidneys need water to get rid of gunk—toxins, waste and salt. But when the body doesn’t have enough water, the liver takes over to help the kidneys but then has to give up one of its functions, which is to break down excess fat.
Your skin will be noticeably different when there is proper consumption of water. That is best seen in your face, hands and feet, which can become smoother. Your bones and joints are lubricated when the cartilage is juiced, water keeps down the possibility of friction, which can create pain. Much of muscle is water. If you notice you are shriveling and not really losing weight, it could be you are actually losing muscle tone, and the water balance is not being maintained. “One thing to remember,” says fitness royalty Grimes, “what you drink is important to keep the metabolism working properly. Metabolism stops working when it’s not hydrated.” Pregnant? Don’t forget not only do you need water, but the fetus needs it to for healthy growth. Plus, if you decide to breastfeed, add extra water to your daily intake because you will lose water when you breastfeed.
So, you’re not fond of drinking water. The good news is there are many great ways to meet your body’s hydration needs. If you don’t like the taste of water, try drinking it with fruit added or other natural flavors like fresh mint or cucumber, or drop a tablespoon or two of cranberry juice in your glass. Eating fruits will help because most have high water contents. Milk and coffee or tea are also good options, but watch drinking energy or sports drinks that can have high sugar content. Yes, they can help hydrate you, but they’re typically packed with excessive amounts of caffeine or carbohydrates that aren’t as healthy as water.
Surrounded by millions of gallons of seawater, the old sailor and the crew in the centuries old Samuel Taylor Coleridge verse had no choice for hydration. But there are millions of gallons of drinkable water available to you and it’s important for you to remember to drink as much of it as you can—every day.
Note: Moderate signs of dehydration: dry, sticky mouth, dizzy, lightheaded, dry skin, headache. These symptoms can elevate to a severe level if there is no hydration.
Marsha Bonhart is a veteran television news anchor and health reporter who feels it is her mission to help you stay healthy. She says she battles her seriously addicted craving for salty potato chips. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org