Water is essential for life and the stability of the body’s physiology. Water is needed to maintain circulation and the functioning of the kidneys and liver, and to remove
wastes. Abundant intake of water protects against kidney stones and decreases the risk of bladder cancer. Dehydration can adversely affect mentation, including
concentration, reaction time, learning, memory, mood, and reasoning, and can also cause disorientation, headaches, fatigue, and anxiety.

Adequate hydration is needed during physical exercise, and when exposed to temperature stress. Water needs vary greatly depending on environmental conditions and physical activity, so there is not a fixed recommended level of healthy intake of water. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has suggested that an adequate daily intake for total water, including water in food, is about four quarts for men and about three quarts for women. Although thirst is a good guide to water needs, and most people can meet their water needs by drinking at meals, and when they get thirsty, substantially more fluid may be needed in hot environments because body water deficits and dangerous heatstroke can occur rapidly.

It is also possible to consume too much fluid and cause water toxicity by exceeding the kidney’s maximal excretion rate of approximately 0.7 to 1.0 quart per hour. Water toxicity is a dangerous condition characterized by low blood sodium resulting in a transfer of water to the body’s cells by osmosis. This causes the cells to swell
and can cause seizures, brain damage, coma, and even death.42 43 Some athletes who overheat or develop muscle cramps drink too much and end up overhydrated and ill with water intoxication, and some have died. Dehydration in sports is not a cause of muscle cramps. Overheated athletes need to cool off resting in the shade or, if necessary, submerged in cool water.

This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in the book or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon). Copyright 2020 by J. Joseph Speidel.