Sometimes simple neglect can cause debilitating health problems, as Salt Lake Community College student Ashley Wardle discovered.
Wardle experienced severe migraines and dizziness for several weeks. In some instances she nearly passed out. Wardle had a hard time thinking straight and had mild mood swings. After a visit to the doctor she found out she was dehydrated.
“I would go all day without drinking hardly any water.” said Wardle. “After going to the doctor it scared me. I found out I was doing damage to my body.”
Water makes up 55 to 78 percent of the human body, and is essential part of its many processes. Regular hydration can help with weight loss, improve digestive health and increase energy.
“I felt a lot better once I started drinking the recommended eight glasses a day,” said Wardle. “My doctor told me to drink two glasses right when I wake up, a glass before each meal, and a glass before bed. It has made such an amazing difference in my energy and the way I feel.”
According to health professionals, drinking water after waking up helps activate internal organs. A glass of water before a meal helps with digestion. Water before taking a bath helps lower blood pressure. A glass of water before going to bed can avoid stroke or heart attack. Drinking water at bed time can also prevent night leg cramps. Leg muscles seek hydration when they cramp and cause a charley horse.
“I take a big water bottle with me every day to school and refill it many times throughout the day,” said Wardle. “I try to drink at least one bottle per class.”
“I wish I would have known how important water was sooner”
Water decreases appetite and helps the body metabolize stored fat. A decrease in water intake can cause fat to increase in the body, while an increase in water intake can reduce fat.
Drinking water can also reduce fluid retention. When the body doesn’t get enough water, it interprets this as a threat to survival and holds onto it. The water is stored in extracellular spaces, and shows up as swollen legs, feet and hands.
“I used to think that if I drank a lot of water that my body would retain it and I would feel bloated,” said Wardle. “Since I started hydrating myself, I have noticed the opposite.”
Water helps the body get rid of waste. During weight loss, the body has extra waste to get rid of, and water helps flush out it out. Water can also decrease constipation. When the body does not get enough water, it takes what it needs from internal sources. The colon is the main internal source.
Health professionals recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day (two quarts), though vigorous exercise and hot weather increase that requirement. An overweight person should also tack on an extra glass for every 25 pounds of extra weight.
Cold water is absorbed more quickly than warm water, which can help burn more calories.
“I wish I would have known how important water was sooner,” said Wardle. “I will never let myself get dehydrated again”