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 10 Tips on Staying Healthy with Water 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Staying Healthy Tips by . View all columns in series

5. Dehydration is a very common problem that nearly every one of us experiences at some time. Every cell in our body requires water to function—to bring in nourishment and carry away toxins. When these functions aren't performed fully due to dehydration, a range of symptoms can occur. At even 1% dehydration, most people get thirsty, which is the body's warning sign. Dehydration can cause dry mouth, flushed skin, fatigue, lightheadedness, headache, or impaired physical performance, as well as lapses in concentration. Headache may be a sign of increased toxicity. Other problems from more chronic dehydration include constipation and poor digestive function, dry and itchy skin, a reduction in urine output, and even an increased incidence of painful kidney stones. Remember my favorite slogan, "Dilution is the solution to pollution." So, drink your water!

6. Add some nutrients to your water and it may make it healthier and more palatable for you. Some folks do not like to drink plain water; they just have distaste for it. If so, try various bottled waters to see if there is one you like. Add some lemon, lime, or a tea bag to give it some flavoring. Water can also be flavored with some orange or apple juice, or some nutrient powders like Emergen-C or another vitamin/mineral combination available at your store. My family starts each day with nutrient-rich water and juice. Warming drinks include herbal and green teas, lemon water, chai, and vegetable broth. Starting the day with a cup of hot water can awaken you and your digestion. Hot water sipped through the day is a popular therapy for illness in Asia.

7. The best time to drink water is first thing in the morning--ideally two or three glasses. I also encourage people to drink between meals rather than too much while eating, as increased fluids dilute the strength of our digestive juices and lower the efficiency of digestion and assimilation. For those working to lose weight, drinking a couple glasses of H2O about 30 minutes before meals will hydrate the tissues, calm the appetite and likely lower the amount of food consumed. Water is also so important to healthy skin and good circulation, to staying young and healthy. To summarize, the ideal times to drink water are:

  • First thing in the morning, when you wake up
  • Mid-morning
  • Mid-afternoon

8. Water and weight loss is an important topic, so here’s a bit more. Focus mainly on vegetables and other wholesome foods and away from processed and sweetened high-calorie foods and snacks. Definitely switch from the caloric, sugary sodas and other drinks to pure Water. And drink several glasses when arising and 30 minutes before planned meals. Make this a priority, and make it fun and tasty. Review Tips number 6 and 7 above for further ideas, plus number 3 for your exercise motivation. Carry water with you so you have it available. Have a couple fruits daily, plus make and consume homemade vegetable soups.

9. Kids need water too. Children don’t handle heat and dehydration as well as adults, and the younger they are, the greater the concern. Diarrhea and subsequent dehydration and malnourishment may be the number one cause of death in kids throughout the world. Elders need water too. They are also sensitive to dehydration and the effects of hot weather. Heating and cooling of the body can be accomplished with warm or cool foods and beverages. This is a natural inclination, yet it may need to be developed in this world where kids (and all of us) are exposed to relentless advertising. Drinking warm/hot water and teas is a good habit for those living in the colder climates. Adding splashes of juice is helpful in getting kids to drink water instead of sugary beverages. Also, adding a nutrient powder, many of which are nicely flavored, provides a good start to a child’s day, or as replenishment after a busy or active time. For children who are overweight or who are fixated on sodas and sugary drinks, it will be a great lifetime health benefit to switch them to water and lighter drinks, such as juice and carbonated water combinations. Be a good example by drinking your water too!

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 About The Author
Elson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...moreElson Haas MD
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