Common dehydration linked with cancer, diabetes, stroke and depression—Learn how water therapy can keep you happy and healthy

Even though we may think that we're well hydrated on any given day, the truth of the matter is that most of us aren't. The wide-spread consumption of dehydrating caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, soda and tea, make it easy to become imbalanced. By the time we have the telltale signs of thirst or a dry mouth, it's already too late. On the surface, this may not appear to be much of a problem, but the reality is that chronic dehydration, even if mild, leads to numerous health disorders - some quite serious like cancer, stroke and fatal coronary heart disease. Research has also shown that, when the body is dehydrated, fatigue sets in, while anger and mood disorders run rampant.

As basic as it may seem, water is the fluid of life, affecting everything from digestion and mineral balance to detoxification and memory. When thirst strikes, we are already dehydrated by 1-2 percent, and the ramifications can be downright dangerous, with increased incidences of the following:

  • Hypertension
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cancers of the bladder and colon
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Kidney stones
  • Arthritis
  • Periodontal disease
  • Gallstones
  • Constipation
  • Glaucoma
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Impaired athletic performance
  • Anxiety

Lawrence E. Armstrong, professor of physiology at the University of Connecticut, has specifically studied the effects of dehydration on cognitive skills, memory and mental stability. In one study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, both men and women were evaluated when mildly dehydrated. Women reported fatigue, difficulty concentrating, alterations in mood and headaches, while male participants noted increased anxiety and tension, as well as poor memory.

Drink up

Yet we don't have to be at the mercy of dehydration and the subsequent health issues. A powerful tool for staying hydrated, detoxified and robust is found with water therapy—namely, consuming a good amount of water early in the day. Ayurveda has long recognized the benefits of the practice and named it Usha Paana Chikitsa, which means "early morning water treatment." According to Underground Health Reporter, a solid protocol entails:

1. Upon waking, immediately drinking four-six glasses (about 1/2 a liter) of room temperature, purified water.

2. Refraining from eating or drinking anything else for one hour prior to and one hour after the therapy.

3. Avoiding alcoholic beverages the night before.

In the beginning, you may need to space water consumption by drinking four glasses at once, and then waiting a few minutes before drinking the remaining two.

If you need additional motivation, staying hydrated throughout the day encourages:

  • Purification of the colon, leading to increased nutrient absorption
  • Production of new blood and muscle cells
  • Clear, youthful skin
  • Weight loss by boosting metabolism up to 24 percent
  • A healthy lymphatic system, which supports immunity

However, it's important to maintain electrolyte equilibrium. Enjoying mineral-rich herbal infusions like nettle, oat straw, red clover and fresh vegetable juices, as well as potassium soups and slow-simmered bone broths (recipes here and here), are all excellent methods for balanced hydration. Judicious use of Celtic or Himalayan salt can keep minerals levels stable too.

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