DR. WENDY CUNNINGHAM: How water can elevate your health

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Water is the most fundamental nutrient your body needs. Two-thirds of our body’s mass is composed of water. It stands to reason, then, that water intake should be closely monitored. Obviously, the amount of water we consume is directly related to our overall health and wellness. How? By facilitating joint movement, the digestion of food, and protecting soft tissues — just to name a few. Water consumption also assists in the process of breaking down and/or storing fats.

That said, it is mission-critical to determine how to get your body the nutrients it needs. By keeping yourself hydrated, you enable your body to healthfully execute its many, daily functions. Water assists in digestion. By breaking down solid foods, nutrients freely and naturally enter the body. The stomach, with its enzymes and acids, turns food (solid matter) into a homogenized fluid; this fluid travels throughout the body with ease. How can water be helpful? By fortifying the body against heartburn and constipation.

Water is also needed to maintain proper blood circulation throughout the body. It carries nutrients and oxygen to cells while getting rid of toxins. In addition, water allows for homeostasis, cooling the body when overheated and storing heat when necessary, as well. Essentially, water assists in nearly every bodily process.

Some people underestimate the importance of water, especially its role in protecting joint function. Joints within the body are lined with a thin layer of protection — cartilage — which cushions the bones and protects against shock and damage. When the body is deprived of water, causing dehydration, arthritis can develop. Water protects the gastrointestinal tract, which is important in order to spare the spine from damage. Why care about water?

The adage is true: If you’re thirsty, your body is already deprived of water. Dehydration incites a slew of unpleasant side effects. When there isn’t enough water in your system, the body must work twice as hard to circulate the remaining water. Fat cannot be properly processed without the use of water. The kidney and liver become incapable of functioning properly. If you drink more water, your body will naturally process fat.

Studies show that water consumption is, hands down, the single-most important contributor to good health. Suffering from joint pain? Ulcers? Disorientation and/or dizziness? Dehydration may be the cause. Most unsettling is that if you don’t drink enough water, your body will start to store it and cause enzymatic reactions to occur through the body. The lymphatic system, responsible for ushering nutrients through the blood stream, critically depends upon an adequate intake of water.

Don’t just guess how much water your body needs; measure it properly. To do this, calculate your weight and divide it by two — the remaining figure is, approximately, how much water (in ounces) your body needs each day. Bear in mind, athletes and active people will need more water than that. Warm water is more quickly absorbed into the body, so consider skipping the ice! One way to check if you are consuming enough water is to look at your urine. If the color is lighter, the better it is.

In short: Drink water. Lots of it.

For more information, contact Dr. Wendy at Haydenhealth@gmail.com.

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