from the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
As we go about our daily activities, it is easy to forget how important staying sufficiently hydrated is. But with water being approximately 60% of our body weight, it is critical to overall health. A general rule of thumb for an average sedentary person is to divide your weight (lbs) in half and drink that many ounces of water in a day. So, a person weighing 160 lbs should drink at least 80 ounces (10 glasses) of water per day. However, warm temperatures, exercise, and illness can greatly increase that demand.
It is important to understand that the fluids within and outside the cells of our body are not just plain water. They contain a delicate and complex balance of electrically charged molecules, or electrolytes, from a variety of dissolved salts such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. The positive and negative electric charges of these ions create osmotic gradients across our cell membranes, and the resulting currents facilitate the transmission of nerve impulses, nutrients, caloric energy, fluids, and the removal of toxic wastes. They affect nearly every process that goes on in our body, including hormonal secretion, muscle activation, maintenance of blood pH, and hydration itself. Studies show that dehydration and subsequent ionic imbalances can affect physical performance, cognition, thermoregulation, eyesight, kidney function, cause muscle spasms, fatigue, seizures, abnormal heart rhythms, and even coma.