Wendy Cunningham: Drink water to improve your health

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Are you looking for an easy way to get a head start on getting healthy in 2018? If you are open to making one simple change that can be implemented immediately with minimal effort and huge benefits, look no further. Drink more water! The benefits of drinking water and being properly hydrated are vast.

If you find yourself fatigued and reaching for a sugary caffeinated drink in the afternoons, chances are that you are dehydrated. Besides fatigue, some of the most common symptoms of dehydration are trouble concentrating, headaches, muscle aches and cramping.

Drinking water helps maintain the balance of body fluids. Your body is composed of about 65 percent water. The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature.

Water can help control calories. People often mistake thirst for hunger, so drinking a glass of water may be all you need to stop the food craving. While water does not have any magical effect on weight loss, it helps by acting as a substitute for higher calorie beverages.

Water helps energize muscles. Cells that do not maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes shrivel, which can result in muscle fatigue. Proper hydration helps keep joints lubricated and muscles more elastic so joint pain is less likely.

Water helps keep skin looking good. Your skin contains plenty of water and functions as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss. Wrinkles are less obvious when your skin cells are plump with water.

Water helps your kidneys. Body fluids transport waste products in and out of cells. The main toxin in the body is blood urea nitrogen, a water-soluble waste that passes through the kidneys to be excreted in the urine. Your kidneys do an amazing job of cleansing and ridding your body of toxins as long as your intake of fluids is adequate.

When you are getting enough fluids, urine flows freely, is light in color and free of odor. When your body is not getting enough fluids, urine concentration, color, and odor increases because the kidneys retain fluid for bodily functions. If you chronically drink too little, you may be at higher risk for kidney stones.

Water helps maintain normal bowel function. Adequate hydration keeps things flowing along your gastrointestinal tract and prevents constipation. When you do not get enough fluid, the colon pulls water from stools which leads to constipation.

While soda, fruit juices, sports drinks, energy drinks, and other beverages typically contain a fair amount of water, they are poor substitutes for pure water. Ideally you should drink half your body weight in ounces every day. Drink from glass or stainless steel to avoid toxins that leach into the water from plastic. You will be surprised at how much better you can feel by just drinking enough water.

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

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