“Water is the driving force of all nature.” — Leonardo da Vinci

Second only to oxygen, water is the most essential element for our survival as living beings. Our bodies simply cannot function without it. With nearly 70 percent of the human body consisting of water, the average adult contains anywhere from 10 to 13 gallons of it.

Good hydration is the foundation of good health. Water acts as the primary catalyst of all functions in the body, playing a key role in metabolism and all physiological processes. Water transports nutrients, delivers oxygen and removes the waste products of normal metabolism through the processes of digestive elimination, perspiration and respiration. The fluids in our bodies regulate temperature and act as a lubricant that cushions joints and bones and a shock absorber for organs and glands. Water is crucial to the body’s overall capacity to repair, restore, and heal.

Proper hydration can prevent or alleviate a wide variety of physical and psychological ailments, such as:

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Hypertension
  • Premature aging
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Obesity
  • Back pain
  • Depression
  • Migraine headaches
  • Autoimmune diseases such as lupus and diabetes

Because water increases blood circulation, cleanses our cells and flushes toxins from the body before they can cause damage or be reabsorbed, increased water intake also has strong cancer-preventing effects and can reduce the risk of getting cancers of the colon, breast, kidney, bladder, prostate and testicles.

For optimal health, we should drink from two to three-and-a-half quarts of pure, clean water every day. To a lesser extent, fresh fruit and vegetable juices and non-caffeinated herbal teas are also good sources of water. In contrast, all alcoholic beverages and caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea and soda, act as diuretics that increase the loss of fluids and actually dehydrate the body. For every six ounces of alcoholic or caffeinated beverages that we consume, we must consume an additional 10 to 12 ounces of water to properly rehydrate ourselves.

One of the most important and least understood aspects of hydration is the fact that the body signals us with thirst only after dehydration begins. Medical experts agree that even minor dehydration can cause health problems, such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

More serious dehydration can result in:

  • Migraine headaches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hypertension
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune diseases

And, of course, the most serious cases of dehydration can result in death.