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L.J. Rohan

L.J. Rohan

Certified Gerontologist

How Much Water Should I Drink a Day? Part I

June 17, 2019

My mother wasn’t a water drinker, and so I wasn’t a water drinker until I was in my late twenties when I first read about the benefits of good hydration and the importance of staying hydrated for healthy aging. It took a while for me to add this habit into my life. I used to have an eight-ounce cup with a dial, and each time I drank a full cup of water I got to turn the dial to the next opening. It somehow made it easier, and a little more fun to chug down those glasses.  Now, thirty-plus years later, it comes naturally. What’s more, I can feel the effects of dehydration when I don’t get enough water. Here is the really, really terrific news about drinking water: the effects are virtually immediate, and the positive feelings (which I will discuss in more detail) you will experience become accessible anytime you fill your body with this life-enhancing elixir. Now that’s pretty great in my book.

Our science lesson for today: Think back to high school biology class for a moment, where we learned that our bodies are made up of 60% water, our brains and hearts are 73% water and our lungs 83% water. Every organ in our bodies, and every system and process of our bodies, require water to run properly. And, they all need enough water to work optimally. Some of the most important functions of proper hydration include our digestion, circulation of our blood, the transportation of nutrients in and out of our cells, removal of toxins and waste from our organs and cells, and maintaining our body’s temperature. Whew, and that’s just the short list! Without enough water our body downshifts into crisis mode, causing stress to all parts, inside and out.

Without enough water, our cells can’t stay balanced (with the correct amount of fluid) and so electrolytes (a substance present in all our bodily fluids) can’t do their job effectively. Electrolytes are needed for all nerve reactions—in our muscles and…you guessed it, our brain. According to research, an electrolyte imbalance can cause a variety of negative symptoms, some potentially deadly. Fatigue after only limited activity is a sign of dehydration; the muscles don’t perform as well, and cramping may occur. This is especially crucial for folks who exercise regularly, and/or do so in a warm climate.

Brain fog and mental confusion are also triggers that tell us our bodies need more water. Remember when you drank too much alcohol at your niece’s wedding?  The headache and foggy thinking you felt the next day were due to dehydration from choosing to replace your water intake with gin and tonics. 😉  In a large study published in Nutrition Review in 2010, researchers found that a steady practice of denying your brain the water it needs can speed up the development of dementia. They also discovered being even mildly dehydrated causes mood fluctuations, difficulty in maintaining concentration, and influences the short-term memory process in all people regardless of their ages. It seems no one is immune. Running on empty, water-wise, impairs higher brain functions we use in math calculations. Insufficient water also affects the use of fine motor skills—think sewing or silver-smithing, as well as our eye-hand coordination needed to fold laundry, put on make-up, or write a letter (in the olden days, that is). Again, filling our internal tanks will alleviate most of these difficulties in double-quick fashion, so drink up!

I have more to say about this important topic so stay tuned, and…

Until next time… Be Vibrant!

Meditation App - LJ Rohan