Did you know that not drinking enough water can raise your blood pressure? It happens for two reasons. First, when you don’t drink enough water, your body attempts to secure its fluid supply by retaining sodium. Sodium is your body’s “water-insurance mechanism.”
At the same time, dehydration also forces your body to gradually and systematically close down some of its capillary beds. When some capillary beds shut down, it puts more pressure in the “pipes”—your capillaries and arteries—elevating your blood pressure.
So, how can you keep your fluid levels and blood pressure in the safe range?
1. Drink the right amount of water. To stay healthy, you need to drink eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water per day. If you have hypertension, your ultimate goal should be twelve 8-ounce glasses or 96 ounces of water per day.
2. Be careful not to overdo it. While I want you to drink a sufficient amount of water, I don't want you to go overboard. Like a sponge, your body can absorb water at a limited rate. It will require some time to adapt to your new level of water intake and become fully hydrated. Drinking too much water, more than the 96 ounces per day that I recommend, can overwork your kidneys and digestive system. Hypertension, diabetes, and stress all leave the kidneys in a weakened state, so be careful. In fact, if you have kidney disease or congestive heart disease, consult your physician before increasing your water intake.
3. Remember to drink more water when you exercise. You lose water through sweat and evaporation. For that reason, you want to hydrate well before, during, and after exercise.