Hydrate Your Way to Health: The Dehydration-Illness Connection


It is vital that every human being drink ample amounts of water every day—especially those who suffer headaches.

Since water makes up roughly 75 percent of the human body and 85 percent of the brain, it only makes sense that no tissue, organ or gland can function properly without an ample supply of this natural fluid. It is the improper functioning of the digestive system, lungs, liver and kidneys that not only contributes to and triggers headaches, but also makes us ill. Indeed, we humans would surely cease to exist without the magic elixir known as water, which, next to oxygen, is the most vital substance on Earth.

Drinking ample quantities of water every day is so important that for centuries many traditional cultures have used its healing qualities to cure and prevent various illnesses and diseases. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), for example, recognized the healing powers of water more than 3,000 years ago.

Even Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, was said to have drank and bathed in water to benefit from the healing properties of its mineral content. Indeed, the mere consumption of this fluid can help restore the body to its natural state of homeostasis (balance) by clearing toxins, cleansing the colon, flushing the liver and kidneys and emptying the bowels—all necessary elements to removing and preventing a number of headaches.

With the abundance of water available in the United States and the sheer necessity of it to our health and well-being, it is a wonder that the many illnesses and ailments are actually caused or aggravated by simple dehydration. The leading researcher of our time on illness and diseases caused by dehydration is Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, an internist trained at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School of London University and one of the last students of Sir Alexander Flemming, the discoverer of penicillin. In his book, The Body’s Many Cries for Water, Dr. Batmanghelidj asserts: “Chronic, unintentional dehydration is the origin of most pain and degenerative diseases in the human body.” (1)

It was while spending several years in an Iranian prison that Batmanghelidj came to discover the healing powers of simple water—including decreased occurrence and symptoms of heartburn, lupus, arthritis and peptic ulcers—and the negative effects of dehydration. So how does dehydration cause pain and illnesss?

As the water content of tissues falls to a certain point as a result of dehydration the bi-layer membranes that surround cells contract, forming a barrier that prevents further water loss. This obstructs the free movement of molecules so that metabolism and elimination are limited. Slow metabolism and elimination lead to build-up of toxins in the blood which can manifest as a chemical-induced headache.

It is important to understand that regardless of the quantity of your daily water intake, its percentage in urine remains constant at around 95 percent. When the hypothalamus detects a lowering of water volume in the body it signals the pituitary gland to release the antidiuretic hormone (ADH) into the bloodstream which increases the capacity of the kidneys to re-absorb and recycle water.

In essence, when the body moves into survival mode by contracting the bi-layer membranes, the kidneys keep recycling and concentrating the urine in an effort to maintain sufficient hydration. Thus the less water put into the body the less the body’s ability to cleans itself of poisonous toxins through elimination via urine, feces, perspiration and the breath. And since waste products left to accumulate in your tissues create chronic pain, headaches and many diseases, water intake is necessary to facilitate the effective elimination of the toxic build-up.

It is in part due to the overtaxing of the colonic track by overeating, ingesting foods high in nitrates and other chemical content, in addition to an abundance of sugars or alcohol, that one feels exhausted, lethargic, experiences seemingly unending dull headaches, catches colds easily or becomes seriously ill. It is precisely the absorption of the nutrients in the colon and intestines from the food we eat that prevents, causes or cures what ails us.

In fact, research has indicated that a thorough flushing of the mucus folds in the colonic tract where toxins and wastes generally remain will cleanse the system and keep the body healthy and the immune system strong. At the same time, quantities of water are known to revitalize the kidney and liver. Thus, by drinking ample quantities of water the colon will become more effective, thus increasing the quantity and supply of fresh blood that can then move throughout the body.

It is vital that every cell, tissue and organ in your body be sufficiently hydrated for your body to return to and maintain its natural state of homeostasis. It is only in this state that the chemical toxins that have built up in the body can be properly processed and eliminated. Water is the only substance that can properly hydrate the body; not caffeinated coffees and teas, carbonated sodas or sugar-filled fruit drinks.

Only water, pure and simple as it is, will keep you healthy and help the body eliminate many of the underlying triggers affecting your health daily. So how much water is enough?

There is much written about specific quantities of water that are needed by the body to function properly. Drinking a single glass of water at lunch or dinner will not do the job. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends six 8-ounce glasses of water per day, other experts suggest consuming 8 ounces of water per 20 pounds of body weight.

But remembering math and numbers throughout a busy day can be difficult. In order to reap the full health benefits from water one must think in terms of water as therapy and drink copious amounts throughout the entire day. If you drink water from a bottle throughout the day, after a period of hydration you will find yourself making frequent trips to the restroom to relieve yourself.

A continuous flow of water through your body that is continually washing away the toxins in your system and keeping them from building up is exactly what you want. This way your kidneys will not become over-taxed and forced to concentrate urine in an effort to maintain proper levels of hydration in your body.

When urine is concentrated as a result of dehydration its color becomes dark. Therefore, if you find yourself drinking throughout the day, but it has been a while since your last glass, check your urine. If it is colored, it is a sign that you are becoming dehydrated—and this happens quickly when consuming caffeinated diuretic beverages like coffee and soda—and it is time for another glass or two of water.

I always keep my bottle of spring or filtered water filled and at my side. In this way, I will never forget to drink from it and I will not be forced to consume chemically treated tap water in whatever location I happen to find myself.

In summary, we have established the undeniable fact that keeping the body properly hydrated helps remove toxins from the body while maintaining proper blood flow and organ, muscle and glandular functions; and that drinking water throughout the day, as dictated by urine color, is the best way to maintain proper hydration.

Your body will never feel as light or as clean and unpolluted as it will once it is properly hydrated. And in the process, a large portion of the on-going headache triggers that have attacked you in the past will be eliminated.

—Dr. Mark Wiley


  1. Batmanghelidj, F. (1996). Your Body’s Many Cries for Water. Falls Church, VA: Global Health Solutions, p. 11.

Personal Liberty

Dr. Mark Wiley

is an internationally renowned mind-body health practitioner, author, motivational speaker and teacher. He holds doctorates in both Oriental and alternative medicine, has done research in eight countries and has developed a model of health and wellness grounded in a self-directed, self-cure approach.

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