Drinking water can be a great appetite suppressant
Water will fill your stomach with something that has no calories, and will help you get by in those moments when you find you need something.
By now you might think you have a handle on your fluid intake...
...because it doesn’t cause a problem for you, but if you have these symptoms, you might have them because you are not taking in enough water.
If you suffer from constipation, you probably do not drink enough water. At this point patients tell me, “I drink gallons of water.” The last part of your digestive system is the colon, and it is responsible for removing water from your digested food and recycling it. The more your body needs water, the more your colon will remove water. There are other reasons for constipation, mainly that you have not had enough fiber, and we will discuss that in a later chapter. Suffice it to say, the main reason people are constipated is that they are not drinking enough water.
Muscle cramps and aches, especially in the legs, often occur because the body does not have enough fluid on board. These cramps are blamed on not enough potassium, not enough calcium, but most of the time it is just not enough water. If you start to exercise and notice cramps, first think of water, not of something else.
Dry skin and dry hair are often attributed to a lack of moisturizer—which makes cosmetic companies quite rich, but often it is simply a lack of fluids. The skin will dry out quickly if you chronically do not have enough water. There are a lot of other reasons for dry skin and dry hair, but a lack of water is probably the most common of all.
Fuzzy memory can be caused by as little as a two percent drop in the body’s water level. This often explains behavior around election time. A lack of water makes it difficult to concentrate on simple tasks or math problem, crossword puzzles, or reading complex materials. Early post-operative patients who do not drink enough water find that they feel far more tired and listless than before. This can continue and is important to nip in the bud.
Heat stroke is a condition related to not drinking enough water
Here in the Sonoran dessert where I live, we hear about this every year. Whether it is someone on a golf course, playing in the sun and not drinking enough water, or someone out hiking not drinking enough water. People die yearly from heat stroke, something that can be prevented easily by drinking enough water. Signs of heat stroke—and dehydration, are headaches, fuzziness, confusion, lethargy (feeling tired), and ultimately death. Even people who know better can suffer from heat strokes. I know because it happened to me playing golf in the summer sun several years ago:
I decided to play a second round of golf in the afternoon and started to notice a headache by the third hole. By the time I was at the fifth hole I couldn’t concentrate too well on my putts, and I was getting tired. I collapsed on the ninth hole after vomiting and was taken into the clubhouse— where I refused to let them call 911 (showing the effect of water on my judgment). Fortunately a friend of mine, also a physician, saw me, sat me down in a shower, and forced me to drink water. It took me a few days to recover. That was a very difficult way to learn the rule that for every twenty minutes in the sun I need to have at least 12 ounces of water.
That lesson, however, proved to suit me well when playing with other golfers who drink alcohol on the course. Alcohol is the only beverage that acts as a diuretic. It will take out more liquid from your body than you will put in. Whenever I am playing a competitive round of golf, I always watch carefully those golfers who drink—because I know that at the end of the round I can bet them more and probably win. As they become progressively dehydrated with the alcohol, their ability to concentrate on golf shots diminishes, as well as their judgment about what they can and cannot do with their golf swing. Of course, I tell them that I am doing this—and haven’t lost yet.