For our family, May brings not only springtime flowers, but birthdays! This past week I turned 67 and my husband turned 70. The calendar will not lie on this one: we’re in the last third of our mortal lives and our bodies are changing.
I recently heard Sister Wendy Watson Nelson (turning 71 on May 31) in an interview. She had commented to President Nelson (turning 97 on September 9) that she sensed her own body aging. His marvelous reply was “Isn’t that wonderful! Your body is preparing you for your return to Heavenly Father!” With that wonderful perspective on aging, there’s much to learn and health habits to prioritize in order to make that transition as gentle as possible. I’m sure we all marvel at how President Nelson makes aging look easy. As a medical doctor, it would be fascinating to know his health habits, wouldn’t it? It’s clear, however, that he’s going to leave that up to us.
One of the surprising and potentially very harmful things I’ve just learned about aging is that
1) Your sense of thirst declines; and
2) Dehydration is an extremely common cause of hospitalization for seniors.
Who knew? On the other hand, maybe we do know, but because it’s so easy to forget to drink enough water, we’re sometimes stuck with with a health challenge that manifests itself in an obvious, unpleasant way. It could be minor, but it could be serious … and become very serious.
Besides the obviously unhealthy darker urine, there’s fatigue, wrinkles and bad breath. Argghhhhh! Those awful, not-so-nice, tell-tale signs of aging. We all remember an old aunt or uncle that was like that. Who wants to be that oldster? Not us! We’ll do whatever we can to delay all of that.
All joking aside, maybe enough water is the fountain of youth?!?!? If so, then what’s stopping us from changing this pronto. After all, drinking enough water is not something that costs money like most health remedies! What can we do to help us remember?
Here’s a lovely little lesson from Mother Nature that will help us remember to drink enough water.
This morning on my walk I passed a darling and very vibrant forget-me-not plant in a beautiful garden. It had just been watered, with droplets of water on the leaves, and it was absolutely the picture of perfect health. The variegated leaves were shiny and firm. Its many perky blossoms were in the peak of that delightful shade of vivid blue. If it could sing, this baby would be on Broadway!
I came home and googled to learn more about this lovely little plant. Of course, Elder Uchtdorf’s magnificent talk popped up that we all know, (link below) but so did the history, which I didn’t know.
Based on Christian lore, the story about forget-me-nots is that God was walking in the Garden of Eden. He saw a tiny blue flower and kindly asked “What’s your name, little one?” The wee flower was so shy and awestruck that he forgot his own name! God renamed the flower as “forget-me-not” promising that He would not forget the little flower, no matter how small. The itty-bitty bloom gratefully responded in turn, that he would not forget God.
I hope the information that is here today will help us, like the little forget-me-not, remember who we are and honor our health and bodies.
FACT: Adequate hydration is one of the first laws of life and health. It becomes even more vital as we age.
Let’s go back to my healthy forget-me-not. It was so healthy and firm. The colors were so bright! In contrast, we all know what plants that don’t have enough water look like: limp, soft, dry, edges turning under, unhealthy colors, lack of growth, dried up and decaying roots, etc. Furthermore, we’ve all seen gardens, dried and parched in the afternoon sun, after they’ve been adequately watered. A couple of hours of enough water makes a huge difference in appearance!
It made me wonder … what do our internal organs look like when there’s not enough water? Both long and short term? What would the before and after pictures look like, just like a couple of hours before and after adequate hydration?
I don’t know that there are medical pictures to tell us, but it’s motivating to picture this as we drink our glasses of water. And this we do know:
Some common signs and symptoms of minor dehydration include: dry mouth, tiredness or fatigue, sunken eyes, a decrease in urination, plus urine that’s a darker color than normal. Let’s add muscle cramping, and feeling dizzy or lightheaded. NOT FUN!
I don’t know about you, but often when I look back on my day I know I haven’t had enough. Maybe I’m just lazy, but if so, that needs to change.
It’s always been a challenge for me (and many individuals) to drink enough water, but I’ve now learned that since seniors lose their sense of thirst, this is an even bigger challenge for most of us seniors.
Making it even more difficult is the fact that seniors’ bodies tend to retain less and less water as we age.
These challenges can make us ill and even send us to the doctor — or hospital. Clearly, we all need all the help we can get to drink enough water as we age!
The Sad Results
Not drinking enough water can cause major health problems like kidney stones, blood clot complications, passing out, rapid but weak pulse and lowered blood pressure. If the person is on medication, being properly hydrated is also essential for medication to work properly. How about the bonus elements of lack of sweating, muscle cramps, low blood pressure and confusion?
Let’s add loss of balance, constipation and electrolye imbalances!
The good news is that water is EASY and nearly free to obtain! What medicines or supplements do you know that are basically FREE?!? Drinking enough is one of the best healers around that will easily help us avoid doctor visits and medications, not to mention illness and hospitalization.
Ten Exciting Benefits On The Plus Side!
One of water’s many benefits is an increase in brain power. Since your brain is made of 73% water, drinking it helps you think, focus, concentrate, and stay alert. (These are also obvious signs of aging.)
As a result, enough water helps your energy levels improve!
Enough water (at least 64 ounces per day)
1. INCREASES BRAIN POWER AND PROVIDES ENERGY!
2. PUTS YOU IN A BETTER MOOD
3. IMPROVES COGNITIVE AND MOTOR SKILLS
4. INCREASES YOUR MEMORY
5. HELPS YOUR BODY DISTRIBUTE NUTRIENTS AND FLUSH TOXINS
7. MAINTAINS REGULARITY: Oh, don’t we know it. Our BMs require moisture to literally LUBRICATE the bowels and to MOVE fecal matter out of the digestive tract into the potty. Inadequate hydration causes very dry stools, which are far more difficult to pass. The body will take the moisture from the bowels for supporting other organs.
8. PREVENT HEADACHES AND BACKPAIN: Believe it or not, chronic pain can often be tracked back to dehydration. For example, the bones of your vertebrae are support by discs. At the central nucleus of each disk is WATER. A lack of water can compromise these discs!
9. PREVENTS BAD BREATH: Did you know that bad breath is a common sign of dehydration? We need enough water to flush away food particles and the oral bacteria that leads to bad breath.
10. FLUSHES TOXINS AND DISTRIBUTES NUTRIENTS:
This is so important! If your intake of water is low, your ability to transport nutrients becomes compromised. You’ll lose strength and feel sluggish because of the backup of ammonia, uric acid and other junk we don’t need hanging around in our bodies!You can read more when you use the link below for a documented study at NIH and more reasons to drink enough water.
The Good News
Although dehydration can become a serious issue, it is also easily avoidable! Here are five tips to make it easier to drink six to eight, or even 10 glasses of water!
1) Track your water each day using water cups or bottles that measure your intake. There are several apps for your phone that will help you with that too.
2) Use a drinking cup or water bottle with a wide straw. If you can, take 10 swallows at a time. If you can’t do that, then sip throughout the day. Some skin experts say that your skin will do best with a FLUSHING by drinking 8-16 ounces a couple of times a day, rather than the slow-drip method.
3) Drink 2 8 oz. glasses first thing in the morning just to get the body restored and refreshed after many hours of no liquid.
4) Drink 8 oz before each meal, and another glass at night.
This habit alone of 2 glasses in the morning, 1 before meals and 1 more before bedtime is 6 glasses of water each day!
5) Avoid caffeinated, sugary or artificially sweetened drinks that are extremely detrimental to health. Don’t include them at all in your water count. If you do drink carbonated, sugar, or sugar-free beverages, drink an extra two-three glass of water to flush it out.
So now I’ve added a new soapbox to my life: drinking enough water every day. I want you to know that these messages are for myself more than anyone of the readers here, … and that we’re in this quest for health and wellness, as we age, together!
Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been a columnist for Meridian Magazine since 2007. She provided mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success and happy living both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 through Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents of a growing number of darling little ones. They are now happy empty nesters in Sandy, Utah where they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox.
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