Make sure to drink up

For the Monitor
Published: 8/5/2019 10:43:58 AM

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

We’ve probably heard it a million times, and because of that we started to tune it out – this is called neural adaptation, in case you were wondering. So why the pressure to drink water?

First, it doesn’t need to be water. It can be around 90 ounces of any liquid, except alcohol since that causes some other dehydration-related problems.

Second, it doesn’t even have to be liquid! Soup, gelatin or anything that will melt into a liquid counts, as do juicy fruits like watermelon or even some vegetables like tomatoes! 

So now that you have a few new ways to help with that hydration, let’s look at why it’s so important. The American Heart Association notes that keeping hydrated helps the heart pump blood more easily, and helps muscles work efficiently. This is why, when we get dehydrated we may faint, feel weak, or even have a heart attack or stroke.

A 2015 research article in the American Journal of Neuroradiology found that dehydration also affects our brain volume. Studies are even looking at the link between dehydration and an increase in asthma attacks and COPD flare-ups. In fact, to keep those critical systems hydrated, our body will steal water from our other body cells, causing them to shrink and causing additional problems for us, like sunstroke. 

Sunstroke, or heat stroke, is when our body temperature rises too high and damages our kidneys, heart, and brain. This damage can become permanent, and even death can result, like during the 1995 Chicago heat wave that led to 739 heat-related deaths! 

Our bodies are mostly water. According to H.H. Mitchell in Journal of Biological Chemistry, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. Our skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys 79%, and even our bones are 31% water. So this summer, and really year-round, make sure you are drinking your water or eating your cucumbers, and soup, just like everyone’s always telling you to!

(Elizabeth Chang is a provider educator with the Franklin VNA and Hospice. For more information, call 934-3454 or visit FranklinVNA.org.)




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