Water makes up 70 percent of the human body and 80 percent of the brain. It is a very powerful nutrient. When it is lacking, you can expect to suffer a wide range of health ailments. Arthritis and headaches are two of the most common illnesses associated with dehydration.
Every time a joint moves, a small amount of water is released to help lubricate it. Lack of water, or dehydration, sets the stage for pain and stiffness, leading to arthritis. A telltale sign of dehydration is stiff joints after lying down or sitting for an extended period of time.
Headaches are the second most common condition associated with dehydration. As simple as it seems, you can markedly improve headaches just by drinking enough water.
When I first met my patient Maria, she complained of constant headaches. “Some are worse than others,” she told me, “But I can’t remember a day without a headache.”
Maria’s situation was not unusual. Before she came to see me, another doctor had prescribed medications for inflammation and pain. They worked, but Maria didn’t like taking them. “They upset my stomach and make me tired,” she explained.
As a matter of routine, I ask patients about their water intake. Generally, the first thing they tell me is about other beverages, such as juice, coffee, or soda. Maria drank three cups of coffee and one soda per day. I kept asking Maria specifically about her water intake. Finally, she understood, and told me that she was drinking one or two glasses per day.
My physical exam revealed that Maria had many signs of dehydration, including dry skin, thinning nails, and a dry mouth. Her tongue was coated with a thick, whitish substance. I explained to her how important it is to stay hydrated, and that her headaches might significantly improve just by correcting her dehydration.
Three weeks later, Maria looked much happier. “About seven days after drinking more water, I woke up and ‘poof,’ my headaches were gone,” she reported. At first, she didn’t want to get too excited, but then realized her headaches weren’t coming back. “Who could believe that?” she marveled, “All those headaches just from not drinking water.”
Drinking water is the first step to better health. Most patients who come to see me with a chronic illness are dehydrated — and if you are dehydrated it is impossible to overcome illness or to achieve optimal health until you increase your water intake.
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