I recently helped a friend throw a party at her home. For several hours, I helped serve dish after dish of delicious-looking food. Although I hadn?t eaten in quite a while, I had no appetite. Nothing tempted me, even some of my favorite foods. I was tired and knew I needed to eat, but nothing I tried tasted good.
What I didn?t realize was that my body was trying to tell me there was a problem. But I wasn?t listening. Fortunately, a friend of mine was. She?s a well-respected acupuncturist who heard I had no appetite. She even noticed that I lacked my usual energy and enthusiasm.
That?s when she told me: "You?re dehydrated! Can I get you some water?"
I drank the water and re-filled my glass. Three glasses later, I felt alert and able to eat. Sure enough, she was right. I was simply dehydrated. I concentrated on drinking plenty of water for the next few days and my energy and appetite returned. It?s amazing how beneficial it is to get enough water.
Residents at a care facility in Suffolk, England, found that when they drank enough water, a myriad of symptoms disappeared. These included reduced urinary infections, less need for laxatives, improved sleep, and fewer falls. Instead of nodding off after lunch, residents were more awake.
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The researchers gave them bottles of water in their rooms, and they put water coolers throughout the facility. One woman in her late 80s had difficulty walking before drinking more water. Now she walks outside almost every day. "I feel more alert - more cheerful too," she said.
Dehydration is all too common, especially as we age. This is because hormonal and other changes in our bodies reduce our ability to balance fluids and metabolize water. Fever, diarrhea, and heat all contribute to dehydration.
So, should you drink 8 to 10 glasses of water every day? Not necessarily. You need whatever your body needs. It may be more, it may be less. All liquids help re-hydrate, but those containing caffeine have a lesser effect, since caffeine is dehydrating.
Many people wait until they feel thirsty before reaching for a glass of water. By the time you?re thirsty, you?ve waited too long. You?re already dehydrated. Here are some other risk factors for dehydration:
Sudden cognitive impairment
Needing medications like diuretics and laxatives
Fever, vomiting, or diarrhea
So reach for a glass of water, even if you?re not thirsty. Pay attention to that feeling of dryness in your mouth. It?s a better signal to help you stay hydrated. When the weather is particularly hot, remember that you need more water than usual. It costs nothing and it can preserve your health.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand