Well known as the Elixir of Life, water is absolutely critical to our well being in every way.
Not only are we primarily made up of water (over 70% of our body is pure water!) but water has a healing property that goes way beyond simple hydration.
Today, I want to share with you all the different ways that dehydration affects our health (you might be surprised at some of these!) and also how we can use the power of water to support our Well Being from the inside out.
What Does Dehydration Feel Like?
Dehydration is life threatening. Severe dehydration means our organs absolutely can not function normally and leads to seizure, organ failure, and death.
But did you know even very mild levels of dehydration might be affecting you on a daily basis?
Dehydration can lead to or exacerbate common conditions such as constipation, dry skin, bad breath, headache, and high blood pressure.
1. Dry Mouth
One of the first symptoms of dehydration is dry mouth, which leads to bacteria overgrowth and bad breath. If you notice bad breath, you might consider: are you chronically dehydrated?
2. Dry Skin:
Your skin turgor is another indicator of dehydration. If you’ve been concerned about your skin feeling dry or more wrinkled, double check that you are drinking enough fluid each day.
Pain is actually a symptom of dehydration as well, often starting with a headache.
And low fluid status can lead to headaches and brain fog as well, as the fluid volume of the brain gets depleted from dehydration.
I’ve literally had patients with a raging headache drink a glass of water and have the headache clear completely.
The next time you have a headache or any type of pain, make sure you drink a glass of water and then re-evaluate your pain levels before reaching for a pain reliever or medication.
Dehydration makes all pain worse, as the volume of the organs and joints deplete, dehydrated ligaments and cartilage get injured more easily and dehydrated discs in the spine allow increased pinching of nerves and muscle cramps increase as electrolytes deplete.
Having sluggish bowels is another classic symptom of chronic dehydration.
Recent studies have shown that water status is the NUMBER ONE factor impacting regularity. More important than walking and more important that even fiber intake, water intake can turn constipation issues around completely.
Drinking water has more of an impact on encouraging healthy bowel movements than fiber supplement or exercise… in fact, I’d go as far as to say fiber supplements clog people up more often than they help.
In general, a constipated person is a dehydrated person. You can fix that right now — go grab a glass of water.
5. High Blood Pressure
Another classic sign of chronic dehydration?
High blood pressure.
When we decrease our water intake, our blood gets thicker, harder to pump, our blood volume decreases and our heart rate increases and our blood vessels constrict.
All together, this means your blood pressure raises and stays raised.
If you are having blood pressure issues, it is more important than EVER to be extremely vigilant about your hydration status!
6. Digestive Issues
Dehydration also impacts your entire gut lining, and chronic dehydration can give rise to stomach ulcers and absorption issues as the mucosal layer stops secreting it’s protective film.
7. Dry Cough
Not only does the gut lining need to be well hydrated to function, but also our entire respiratory lining does too. Our lungs absolutely require a moist mucous membrane to function.
In chronic dehydration, the mucus membranes in our respiratory system dry out and become more vulnerable to dust, pollen and other irritants.
8. Urinary Tract Infections
Getting more UTI’s than usual?
Our entire urinary system (and therefore the health of our kidneys) depends on having enough volume to use liquids to flush toxins from our body. When we can’t do that, we set ourselves up for issues with kidney function and a higher rate of infections.
9. Weight Gain
Another little known side effect of chronic dehydration is weight gain.
As we become volume depleted, we begin to feel thirst, which is often confused with hunger because the body is craving intake of any kind (knowing that most foods will provide some form of hydration, your body sends out the message that it is hungry when it is volume depleted in any way.)
As a result, we eat when what we really need to be doing for our true health is rehydrating.
10. Bad Mood & Foggy Brain
Did you know that even mild dehydration affects our mood?
A study published in The Journal of Nutrition showed that study participants reported decreased motivation and increased feelings of anxiety when mildly dehydrated.
On top of that, headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and decreased physical activity all were increased during dehydration. And the effect of dehydration on mood was even more pronounced in women than in men!
And this medical review published in the Journal Of the American College of Nutrition showed that our attention spans and even our short term memory fizzles when we are dehydrated.
So the next time you have a headache, or feel anxious, or notice your blood pressure or weight creeping up… drink a glass of water and re-evaluate.
It could be that chronic dehydration has been a key factor contributing to your symptoms all along.
And don’t rely on thirst to remind you to drink!
Dehydration begins when we are just 1% volume depleted, but thirst doesn’t set in until our body is about 2% volume depleted.
By then we have already had effects on our mood, energy level, ability to think clearly, and pain levels.
Instead of waiting for thirst or darkened urine to remind us to drink, let’s utilize these preventative strategies for staying well hydrated, instead of treating dehydration! The goal of this article isn’t to teach you how to address dehydration but to have you protecting your hydration levels by preventing dehydration in the first place.
How to prevent dehydration?
Here are 5 ways to help:
1. Begin and end every single day drinking a big glass of water.
Drink water each AM before you even think about reaching for orange juice or coffee.
Replenishing the fluids you lost overnight every as well as the fluids you may have overlooked drinking all day long is a great lifelong habit to get into…
…do it daily so it becomes an automatic routine!
2. Drink a glass of water whenever you feel hungry.
Use hunger as a reminder to hydrate!
We feel hunger on and off all day long, and so we can remember to drink water on and off all day long too.
Thirst is often confused with hunger, because your body is craving INTAKE of any kind!
Drink a glass of water before each meal and whenever you feel thirst *or* hunger, and you will stay well hydrated all day long.
3. Include fruits and vegetables at every single meal.
Fruits and veggies are full of water (many being more than 90% water!) and minerals that help you maintain essential fluid volume.
Processed foods like packaged snacks actually dehydrate you.
Fruits and veggies are a great way to hydrate *while* you eat!
The most hydrating ones include:
melons, berries, cucumber, celery, leafy greens, tomatoes and bell peppers.
4. Use an unrefined sea salt when you cook, instead of table salt.
It’s truly important to make sure you have enough minerals in your diet so that you can absorb and retain the right hydration balance.
Trace minerals, found in sea salts, are essential to the body’s function.
I talk a little more about why minerals are so essential for health in this video I made for you here!
Even if you don’t think hydration is an issue for you, most of us are mineral depleted whether we hydrate well or not.
You might want to consider a daily mineral supplement that you have to put into water, which will further encourage you to drink drink drink throughout the day.
5. Switch from soda to sparkling water.
The sugar and chemicals found in soda (even diet soda!) mess with your metabolism and should not *count* towards your 8 cups of water a day.
Get your carbonation fix from sparkling water instead and reap the hydration rewards!
Use The Power Of Water In These Unique Ways
To Help Catapult Your Health:
Beyond staying hydrated, the healing power of water can work magic for helping to support our entire well being, from clearing our mind frame to easing pain.
Let’s go beyond staying hydrated and really tap into the broader healing properties of water… here’s 6 ways that water can boost your whole body well being:
1. Allow tears… always.
Never hold them back.
Let the water of your tears release your emotions and lift them from your body.
Water is the ultimate medium of flow and healing… in fact, water is the body’s natural choice of release as well, as you can see in the fact that the body uses tears to facilitate an emotional release.
Tears help encourage the flow of emotions through the body (both tears of joy and tears of sorrow!) and allows us to release tension more easily.
2. Sweat it out!
The other way that the body uses water as a form of energetic and physical release is through sweat.
Heat uses the energy and flow of water (the blood in your circulatory system) by increasing flushing — fluid in, sweat out.
Exercise is an essential, wonderful, medically proven treatment plan for so many different health conditions, shown to be effective in treating everything from insomnia, to depression and anxiety to fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions… even preventing dementia and extending our lifespan!
Make sure you find some physical activity that you can routinely do that allows you to sweat… whether you like hiking, yoga, kickboxing, jogging, or even, in a pinch a more passive form of sweating like a sauna (which has been recently shown to decrease dementia rates!) — find a way to embrace sweating and be sure to replace that fluid flow with tons of fresh filtered water both before, during, and after sweating!!!
3. Use the cleansing properties of water to detox and release.
Take a long hot epsom salt bath soak (add some baking soda and apple cider vinegar to turn it into a detoxing experience) to soothe muscles, calm and relax you before bedtime…
…or simply relax in a warm shower and envision the water carrying the tensions of the day down the drain for you.
Another great way to use water to heal is to ground by the ocean or river or lake (or even the morning dew on a blade of grass!).
There is a reason that doctor’s routinely gave out prescriptions for spending time by the sea when they had no idea what else to do to help an ailment!
That’s because the earth has healing energy to give you, and if you add moisture to that you increase your own conductivity and healing accelerates.
Ground outside (daily if at all possible) and add water –sweaty feet, making a puddle with your hose, heading to the beach for a healing weekend retreat, or any other way to add moisture:
moisture + you + earth = expedited healing
For more on using the healing power of the earth to feel better, you can download my free Grounding Idea Book here.
4. Combine water with heat
My favorite way to combine the healing power of water with the healing power of heat (beyond the sauna, bath and shower I’ve already mentioned!) is to fill a hot water bottle full of warm water and hold it on your body where you are feeling any tension, pain, or stuck emotion, for example on your chest, abdomen, neck, back, etc…
Adding the element of heat enhances the healing release all the more.
I love using my grounding hot water bottles for releasing energy in stuck, sore muscle cramps, relieving nausea and abdominal cramps during my period, to ease growing pains for my children, and countless other applications!
5. Make sure your air contains moisture!
As I mentioned above, your mucosal membranes absolutely require moisture to function… did you know you lose over two cups (or a half liter) of water just from breathing each day?
Use steam/humidifiers to help hydrate your air and support the hydration of your mucosal membranes.
6. Intentionally drink water as a way to energetically reset the body from the inside out
You lose up to 2 liters (8 cups) of water each day just through urination and bowel movements and skin surface evaporation.
You can utilize this high turn over of fluids to your advantage and hydrate hydrate hydrate during times of worry or sorrow or stress more than any other time of your life.
Look at every glass of water you drink as a way to add a healing intention into your body, infusing every single cell of every single tissue of every single organ system you have with healing support.
You can simply say a prayer, say an intention, even just *think* an intention as you hold your cup of water and silently bless it before you drink it. You can even take a sharpie marker and write an intention or uplifting word or phrase onto your water bottle or onto a piece of tape and tape it to your cup or mug.
Let your body be flushed out inside and out and with every urination or bowel movement or tear or droplet of sweat you shed, recognize you are flushing the old energy down the drain and making way for new healing.
The beautiful, life affirming, healing properties of water can not be matched with anything else we put into our bodies.
Today, try to use the healing flow of water to support your Well Being in many many different ways, and be sure to be protective about your hydration status at all times.
P.S. Recently I was asked:
“Dr. Laura, a friend told me to get a water filter that removes fluoride… do I really need to?” – S.K.
After hundreds of studies have shown fluoride affects everything from cognitive function in humans to diabetes, fertility and more in animals, I recommend avoiding fluoride in water and never use fluoridated toothpastes.
Fluoride is an enzyme inhibitor, point-blank.
But what’s the problem with the miniscule amounts of fluoride added to the public water supply?
The old problem that is widely recognised (even by the National Institutes of Health) is that it accumulates in bone. It is estimated about 50% of the fluoride we consume is eliminated, and 50% is stored.
Miniscule amounts of fluoride adding to our bodies sip after sip after sip equals a not-so-minimal exposure. Over a lifetime, these levels can reach high proportions… decreasing bone density and causing brittleness.
For a nation whose women have epidemic proportions of osteopenia and osteoporosis, it would be counter productive to continue to drink fluoride on a daily basis… and then use even more Rx to combat the osteoporosis that develops later in life. Studies have shown that the rate of hip fracture in elderly is directly increased in areas that fluoridate their water.
The truth is, even if you feel that you *need* fluoride to help reduce the incidence of cavities… you are getting plenty of fluoride through your foods.
Plants store fluoride found naturally in the earth AND from the water used to irrigate crops. Yep, even organic crops have fluoride in them from the irrigation water.
Statements from reps of the National Institutes of Health recommend that people who drink large quantities of water should not drink tap water, but instead switch to bottled water. We are just getting so much exposure to fluoride, to intentionally consume extra fluoride, whether through drinking water or toothpaste, is way too much.
Your skin absorbs fluoride as well, so even when you are showering or taking a bath, you are absorbing fluoride.
And now? In addition to bone uptake? Now the new problem is we know fluoride is being taken up by our cardiovascular system as well.
A study published in the journal Nuclear Medicine Communications definitively proved that fluoride is absorbed into your vascular system. Researchers followed 61 patients after administering fluoride and found that 96% of them had fluoride uptake in their cardiovascular walls.
In a nation with heart disease steeply rising, this doesn’t sit well with me. Direct absorption to of fluoride into our cardiovascular walls (and a significant correlation between cardiovascular events and fluoride uptake) makes it all the more urgent for us to avoid fluoride all together.
And now new reports are revealing something even more disturbing, if you can believe it — fluoride lowers IQ.
I am routinely asked at the dentist’s office if I would like to give my children a concentrated fluoride treatment. And affect their still-developing brain?
I use the Berkey water filtration system in my home (I have the small travel Berkey system and it works perfectly well, so don’t feel like you need to get the biggest or most expensive filter out there!) and keep mine out on my kitchen counter space and not only am I drinking pure, clean, fluoride free water, but the visual reminder to DRINK every single time I walk by the water filter or am standing in the kitchen preparing a meal. This has really helped me to remember to maintain my hydration status.
Need a more inexpensive solution?
One that it travel friendly too?
I’ve got you.
For a small fraction of the cost of a home water filter, when you are on the go, at work, at the gym, or just dining out at a restaurant for a meal, you can still filter fluoride out of your glass of water totally discreetly using this fluoride water filter in a straw!
Or, if you prefer, a fluoride filtering sports bottle to take your own water with you.
So all in all?
Yes, absolutely I feel that a fluoride filter to remove fluoride from your drinking water (as well as not using fluoridated toothpaste) is worth the it for the long term health of your heart, your bones, and all the organs in between!