Stay hydrated. Stay healthy!

We are now well into the long, hot summer holidays and many of us turn our thoughts to beach and pool parties, fun days at the water parks or spending the time in air conditioned malls and cinemas. With the weather is heating up to what feels like boiling point, the one thing many people ignore is the need to drink more H2O. It is common to hear that water is essential for your health. But why is that?

We all know that drinking water regularly is good for the body. But most of us probably don't realize just how important being properly hydrated is for our health. In fact, every system in the human body depends on water to function. As summer becomes more and more brutal, make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

Did you know that approximately two-thirds of the human body is made of water? The brain is 80 percent water; muscles, including the heart are 75 percent water, blood is 83 percent water, your lungs are 90 percent water, skin is 64 percent water and even your bones are 30 percent water. Drinking enough H2O maintains the body's fluid balance, which helps transport nutrients in the body, regulate body temperature, digest food and assist in many other functions.

Effects of dehydration.

Dehydration is dangerous; even mild dehydration can leave one feeling unwell. Staying hydrated is crucial to maintaining your body temperature. Your body loses water through sweat during physical activity and in hot environments. As summer approaches make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid drying out. Remember that if you are feeling thirsty, you are already starting to dehydrate.

The body becomes dehydrated when we lose more water than the body takes in, which can lead to an imbalance in the body's electrolytes. The kidneys keep the levels of electrolytes in the body stable when they function properly. If they are not working efficiently, waste products and excess fluid can build up inside the body. Kidneys need enough fluids to clear away what our bodies do not require and water is essential for the them to function as it helps dissolve minerals and nutrients, making them more accessible to the body. In addition, increased water intake appears to decrease the risk of kidney stone formation.

The kidneys are not the only bodily functions to be affected by a lack of water.

*Cartilage found in joints and the discs of the spine, contains around 80 percent water. Dehydration can reduce their shock-absorbing ability, leading to joint pain. Aching joints, and muscle cramps and strains can all occur if the body is dehydrated as water protects and cushions our tissues, spinal cord and joints.

*Blood is more than 90% water. Staying hydrated improves blood oxygen circulation, whilst a lack of water can cause blood to become thicker, increasing blood pressure.

*The bowel needs water to work properly. Dehydration can lead to digestive problems, constipation and an overly acidic stomach. This increases the risk of heartburn and stomach ulcers. Drinking water before, during and after a meal will help your body break down the food you eat more easily. This will help you digest food more effectively and keep things flowing along your gastrointestinal tract which relieves and prevents constipation.

*When dehydrated, airways are constricted by the body in an effort to minimize water loss. This can make asthma and allergies worse.

*Water does more than just quench your thirst, regulate your body's temperature and keep your organs working; it also keeps the tissues in your body moist. You know how it feels when your eye, nose or mouth get dry. Keeping your body hydrated helps it retain optimum levels of moisture in these sensitive area as well as in the blood, bones and brain.

* Drinking water may help to prevent and treat headaches and keep you focused.

Dehydration can affect brain structure and function and can trigger headaches and migraines in some individuals; several studies have shown that water can relieve headaches in those who are dehydrated. Do you need a productivity boost? In order to really focus, a glass of water can help people concentrate and say refreshed and alert.

* Drinking plenty of water during physical activity is essential. Hydration affects your strength, power and endurance and water helps energize muscles. When muscle cells don't have adequate fluids, they don't work as well and performance and energy levels suffer. Drinking sufficient fluids is particularly important when exercising and staying hydrated is crucial to maintaining your body temperature. Your body loses water through sweat during physical activity and in hot environments and it is essential to replenish it on a regular basis.

Water can help control calories. For years, dieters have been chugging down pitchers of water as a weight loss strategy. While water doesn't have any magical effect on weight loss, substituting it for higher calorie beverages can certainly help. In addition, it is a natural appetite suppressant as it makes you feel full; eating less and drinking very cold water can boost your metabolic rate, increasing the potential for weight loss.

* Water helps keep skin looking good. The skin contains plenty of water which functions as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss. Without sufficient moisture, the skin can become more vulnerable to skin disorders and premature wrinkling.

Tips to help you drink more water.

Think of water as a nutrient your body needs that is present in liquids, plain water and foods. All of these are essential daily to replace the large amounts of water lost each day. Here are some easy tips to help you drink more water:

* Have a glass of water with every snack and meal; if you do not like the taste of plain water, spice up the taste buds with a squeeze of citrus,fruit or vegetables.

* Keep a bottle of water with you at all time - in your car, at your desk and in your bag.

* Eat more fruit and vegetables. Their high water content will add to your hydration.

So, Le Chaim, drink up and remember that water is the best natural remedy. Drink your way to better health.