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The importance of drinking more water as you age

Keep hydrated, keep young

As month one draws to a close, I wanted to leave everyone with some motivation to stay hydrated, especially as you get older. You are probably aware that as you age, there are certain bodily processes that start to become sluggish compared to when you were younger. For example, when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I was better able to recover after a night of drinking. If you’re thinking, “late teens!!!”, don’t worry, the drinking age in Ontario is 19 and 18 in Quebec, which I live very close to. I would be able to spend all night drinking, have very little sleep, barely any water and still be able to function quite well the next day. Not always, mind you, but it was still possible. Now, I find that if I don’t drink some water before I go to sleep after a night of drinking, I have a headache the next day. I often feel very lethargic as well. Being hungover is essentially the aftermath of dehydration the alcohol has done to your body. Coupled with the diuretic effects of caffeine from one of my staple bevvies, the rum and coke, it isn’t looking pretty. So, as we age, our bodies have a more difficult time recovering from dehydration.

There are two reasons why we need to drink more water as we get older:

1. Your body starts to lose its capacity to process water efficiently, therefore it is easier to become dehydrated.

2. Your body doesn’t signal its thirst as well. As we age, we are less likely to feel the need to drink water.

When I started to plan my year of the detox, I asked my dad that if he could do only one thing to improve his health, that it be to increase his water intake. Though his intake of alcohol has decreased, he used to drink a lot of beer and he also has coffee occasionally. I asked him one day, as I was researching more about water, how much water he’d had that day and it was about a cup. That was at the end of an entire day! To keep our bodies functioning at its best, we need to be hydrated.

According to Dr. Batmanghelidj, author of Water: for Health, for Healing, for Life, we are at our highest water regulation efficiency between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. I wish I had of been paying attention to see if my hangover after my 26th birthday celebration was worse! He he he. He also talks about a study that was conducted in 1984 which looked at body thirst differences between old and young men. The study found that elderly men were far less able to recognize their thirst than the younger men were in the same experimental setting. Even though bloodwork was done showing that the elderly men were dehydrated and water was placed within their reach, they did not have the urge to drink. (Philipps et al., 1984, New England Journal of Medicine)

I can see that even though I thought I was going easy on him, asking my dad to do this one thing, it may have been a lot harder than either of us anticipated. That doesn’t mean he’s off the hook though! Especially since a later study showed that there can be significant body water loss in the elderly, anywhere from 3.5- 6 litres over a ten year span! (Steen, Lundgren and Isaksson, 1985, The Lancet). Considering the average weighted man has approximately 40 litres of body water, I’d say that’s rather significant loss indeed. It brings a whole new meaning to the description ‘shriveled, old man’! And since we know 66% of water loss comes from inside your cells, that seems a bit dangerous to me.

Basically, what I am saying as I finish up my ‘get hydrated’ month is that even though the month is over, we should never stop striving for hydration. Water can improve our quality of life and is especially important to keep in mind as we age. If we form habits to maintain our thirst, I have full faith that we will be the lucky ones, skipping around Florida with our blue hair and being refused for senior discounted meals. Water for life!

Have you felt a difference in your hydration as you get older? When you drink? Have you noticed it in any older relatives?

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About msjenniferwalker

I'm a Jenn of all trades, as long as they are creative and fulfilling. I'm an actress, writer, photographer and all around social person. I love to learn, travel, meet new people and have new experiences.

Posted on January 30, 2012, in Information and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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