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PHUKET: “You’re not sick; you’re thirsty. Don’t treat thirst with medication,” says Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, author of the acclaimed book Your Body’s Many Cries for Water.

We all know that water is essential to life and that in fact it makes up more than 70 per cent of most living things. We also know that although we can survive weeks without food, a person will die within a few days without water. That should say it all.

I agree with Dr. F. Batmanghelidj and believe that most people are suffering from dehydration, especially in a climate like Thailand, and that this is making a lot of people weak, tired, sick. And yes, it even contributes to their being overweight. Let’s look at water’s functions to support these points.

Water regulates ALL body functions, including:

1. Our chemical messengers: the hormones

2. Dealing with the slow killer – inflammation

3. Nutrient uptake – you are what you assimilate, not just what you eat

4. Cell activity and energy production – that is why starting the day with a coffee instead of water is such
a bad idea

5. Detoxification – water is the cheapest and most powerful supplement to get rid of toxins

I could continue, but hopefully you get the point…

How do you know if you are dehydrated?

According to Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, a “dry mouth is one of the very last indicators of dehydration. By the time dry mouth becomes an indicator of water shortage, many delicate functions of the body have been shut down. This is exactly how the aging process is established – through a loss of enzyme function. A dehydrated body loses sophistication and versatility.”

So instead of focusing on the symptoms of dehydration, simply focus on building a habit to never get even close to that stage.

Here are my water rules:

1. Start the day with a minimum of two medium-sized glasses of clean, pure water

2. Drinking is amazing for curbing hunger, so before reaching for food, drink some water

3. Drink more water at the start of the day as drinking too late at night may disturb your sleep by getting
you up often to go to the bathroom

4. Try not to drink too much during meals, as it can dilute the stomach acid which is used to break down your food.

So how much water do you need each day?

There’s no simple answer here, it depends on many factors, including your weight, body fat percentage, activity levels, climate, sex, age,and so on.

But the two standard views suggest either:

Eight standard size glasses of water per day

Half your body weight in ounces, so someone weighing 90kgs needs to drink 100 ounces or around three liters a day.

A good way to assess your hydration level is to pay attention to your perception of thirst and the color of your urine. That means always drinking before you feel thirsty and producing 1.5 liters or more of odorless, colorless urine per day.

Dangers of water

We understand the importance in Phuket of clean drinking water but unfortunately the alternative for many is regularly consuming bottled water which comes not only with the obvious environmental issues but also potential health problems from the chemicals like:

BPA – Bisphenol A or BPA is an estrogen-mimicking chemical that has been linked to a host of serious health problems including:

Learning and behavioral problems

Altered immune system function

Early puberty in girls and fertility problems

Decreased sperm count

Prostate and breast cancer

Diabetes and obesity

Phthalates – Phthalates make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible, but in the body they disrupt our important hormones.

The alternative to plastic bottles

In my home we have installed a high quality water filter, which I think is a great investment. After drawing the filtered water from the tap, we then transfer it into glass – not plastic – for refrigeration. When carrying water around, we use BPA-free bottles, including the metal version SIGG brand (see http://mysigg.com).

Many worry about the dangers of some water filters taking minerals away from water. Ways to increase fluid levels, but get still plenty of nutrients include:

1. Increase vegetable intake

2. Make more soups, especially bone broths

3. Try freshly-made (not in a box) vegetable and fruit juices. (But if you are overweight keep the fruit content below 10 per cent.)

And finally: watch out for over-consuming CAFFEINE, SUGAR and ALCOHOL which can dehydrate the body.

Craig Burton is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) with a Bachelor of Science
degree (Sports Science) and a National Academy of Sports Medicine (PES) certification.

— Craig Burton