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June 21, 2018  |  Login
By James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.
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Drink before You Think

Do not wait until you have the sensation of feeling thirsty to start drinking water. By the time you feel thirsty, you are likely to be mildly dehydrated. Regular water intake throughout the day is encouraged.


An adequate water intake is very important for both children and adults. Most of our body consists of water, making it a crucial substance that enables all the cells, the organs, and the tissues of the body to work properly. This includes the brain. Mild dehydration can interfere with concentration and cause headaches. Most people do not consume enough water on a daily basis. Infants should consume 1.5 ounces of water per pound of body weight daily. Infants who are breastfed do not need to drink water, as they get plenty in the breast milk. Children should drink an average of 40 ounces a day. Adults should drink 48 to 60 ounces a day. A warm climate, exercise, soft drinks, and high-sodium foods lead to dehydration. Also, a person may need more water to help recover from an illness.

The other consideration in regard to water is quality. Tap water in North American homes is laced with chemicals. Chlorine is a good disinfectant but should not be consumed, as it destroys the good bacteria in the digestive tract and is linked to bladder and rectal cancer. It can be removed with a filtration system and with a charcoal filter in the showerhead. Fluoride is contained in the municipal water supply, depending on which area of the country you live in. Fluoridation of the water supply is a controversial topic; fluoridation may be a serious health hazard. Pesticides, heavy metals (e.g., lead) and other contaminants are found in the water supply. Parasites and bacteria are in higher-than-acceptable concentrations in some areas of this country's water.

The optimal solution is to install a reverse-osmosis system in your home or drink distilled water. Have your drinking water tested by a certified water-testing company in your area. You can also contact the Environmental Protection Agency Safe Drinking Water Hotline (1-800-426-4791 or to get more information about water safety standards and testing.

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