The importance of hydration for your health

Why water?
Our bodies are made up of around 60% water. We need water for energy, for our brains to function properly, to maintain a healthy weight, for a healthy digestive system so that we have daily bowel movements, and to maintain a healthy blood pressure.
Our joints are surrounded by synovial fluid which cushions and protects them, and around 70-80% of joint cartilage is made of water. Similarly, the discs between the vertebrae of the spine are made up of fluid which is partly water. When we’re dehydrated, these fluids become depleted which can aggravate joint and back pain.
If we aren’t drinking enough water, we’re likely to become constipated. This is because our bodies draw water from the bowel back into the bloodstream when we need it, drying the contents of the bowel out and slowing everything down. If your bowel movements are irregular or sluggish, or your stool is dark and difficult to pass, you probably need more water. 
When we take medication it’s especially important that we are drinking enough water. Most drugs and their metabolites are eliminated from the body in urine or bile (secreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder) so we need to support our kidney and liver function to flush these from our systems, and drinking enough water is one way of doing that.
We lose water every day through our urine, sweat, breath and bowel movements. If we don’t replace it we can become dehydrated.
Signs of dehydration
• Joint pain
• Muscle cramps
• Headaches
• Constipation
• Brain fog
• Fatigue
• Dry mouth
• Itchy or dry skin
• Low blood pressure
• Dizziness

6 tips to increase your water intake
1. Try to drink a minimum of 1.5 litres of plain (filtered if possible) water every day.
2. Drink steadily throughout the day, not just in the morning  and evening
3. Buy a 500ml reusable water bottle and take it with you wherever you go, and aim to get through 3 refills by the end of the day.
4. You might find you need to go to the loo more often, but this will be temporary while your bladder gets used to this amount of liquid
5. If you don’t like water or find it boring, you can add slices of lemon, lime, cucumber or ginger root to it for flavour
6. If you like a hot drink in the morning, make a cup of hot water and squeeze the juice of half a lemon into it (add a slice of ginger root if you like ginger) – this helps to improve your digestion and liver function, and can be counted in your water intake for the day
Written by Lesley Painter at Dandelion Nutrition and Health
Registered Nutritional Therapist and Colonic Hydrotherapist