Why is Staying Hydrated So Important?

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

I recently met a woman who very rarely drinks plain ol’ water. I thought, “Hmm, only camels could survive without water…” I was actually concerned, but it also got me thinking about all the benefits that come with being hydrated. In a recent post, I mentioned a few benefits that come along with increasing your water intake. In this post, I would like to explain those in a little further detail and also explain the opposite; what happens when you are dehydrated? Also, what happens if you don’t drink enough water over long periods of time, like Miss Camel Lady.

Firstly, every single part of our body needs water to continuously function. Water is literally one of the only two things that we absolutely need to survive, along with food/nutrients. If you think about it, if each cell and organ need water, do you think it will perform better when it has it? Worse when it doesn’t? If you answered “yes,” then you are on the right track. Our body loves water and nibbles it up every time that it gets some. It helps in lubricating our joints, clean our kidneys, and remove wastes from our body. When you go pee, you aren’t just getting rid of excess water, your body is getting rid of some the waste that it doesn’t want. Just based on those benefits alone, you should be wanting to drink more water. But if that won’t do it, then maybe we should go over some of the downfalls to not staying hydrated, or not drinking enough water.

There are quite a few disadvantages that dehydration has for our bodies. One of the big ones, especially with summer right around the corner is a heat injury. If you are dehydrated and exercising or working in the heat, you are really putting yourself at risk. You will be very prone to heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and in major cases, a heatstroke that can take your life. I don’t mean to be a downer, but I can’t stress the importance of hydration enough. Another downfall to dehydration that most people don’t think about on a daily basis is the increased risk of a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). They are painful, much of which arises in the abdomen, and then can lead to a burning feeling during urination.

There are two major long term possible problems if you don’t drink enough water that I would like to discuss. Although I am sure there are more, these two are quite important and worth noting. People get kidney stones all the time and aren’t sure why they got them, and why they had to endure that pain when so many other people don’t have to. To understand how water affects kidney stones in any way, you first have to understand what a kidney stone is. Don’t worry, this isn’t a super long science lesson, hang in there. Basically, kidney stones are the supersaturation of calcium, phosphate, and oxalate. In laymen terms, it is when your pee has more calcium, phosphate, and acid than it does water, so crystals turn into stones, and then you pee them out. This is said to be one of the most painful experiences to have to undertake, and unpleasant doesn’t do it justice. The other major long term possible problem that under-hydration can affect is actual kidney failure. Over time, they will be overworked by having to process other liquids, with little to no help from some fresh, clean water, and will begin to fail. Thus, if you aren’t already even a little bit focused on your daily hydration, you should begin to get on the train soon. It’s better to prepare for the worst and be ready than run into a health issue over something as simple as drinking a little more water.

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Kim Shapira MS, RD

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