Last week saw an alarming spike in the number of patients admitted for dehydration, fatigue and heatstroke in hospitals across the Southwest, with several major cities recording temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. But did you know that when it comes to drinking enough water, most Americans consume far below the recommended daily minimum, regardless of season?
CBS reports that while most people know perfectly well that water is the way to go, up to 75 percent of the American population fall short of the 10 daily cups prescribed by the Institute of Medicine – which, in medical terms, means that most people in the U.S are functioning in a chronic state of dehydration.
“60 percent of our bodies is composed of water, 75 percent in our muscles, 85 percent in our brains, it’s like oil to a machine,” explained Dr. Roberta Lee.
With Americans reportedly buying more soda than water, the news may not come as a shock – but health officials continue to emphasize the importance of proper hydration, as chronic deficiencies may be very difficult to connect to its symptoms.
“Because the human body is so unique that it will say ‘I want water’ in food, in any way, shape or form,” said Grace Webb, Assistant Director for Clinical Nutrition at New York Hospital. “People just think that when they start to get a little weak or they have a headache, they need to eat something, but most often they need to drink.”
“Water is necessary for the body to digest and absorb vitamins and nutrients. It’s also key to proper digestion; it detoxifies the liver and kidneys, and carries waste away. If your urine becomes darkly colored like this, we’re dehydrated. The urine should be light, straw colored,” she continued.
Over time, failure to drink enough water can contribute to a wide array of medical complications, from fatigue, joint pain and weight gain to headaches, ulcers, high blood pressure and kidney disease.
In addition, much of our fluid intake can itself have a deleterious effect on our health, as caffeinated, diuretic beverages may contribute to the problem.
“We have a tendency in the U.S. to drink a lot of beverages that are mildly dehydrating,” Webb explained.
For those of you who cannot stand the taste of water, there is a wide variety of fruits and vegetable that can help remedy the condition – which, according to doctors, is among the easiest to reverse.