I may have mentioned this in a previous article, but just in case you missed it, I'm very proud to be a PK. Yep, a Preacher's Kid - a Baptist PK at that. Dad went to Heaven a long time ago, but I still remember a lot of the phrases he used from the pulpit. When he really wanted to make a point he would say, "Now, I'm going to quit preaching and go to meddling." In other words, "Pay attention. I'm talking to you and this is important." Now, it's my turn to start meddling, and I'm not just talking to you, but to myself as well.You see, I have a terrible habit that I'd bet a large number of you have as well. I drink waaaaaay too many diet colas. Perhaps I understated that. I drink diet soda all the time instead of water. You'd think I'd know better, and I do, but knowing is not the same thing as doing. One doesn't have to look very hard to find information about the hazards of artificial sweeteners in those so-called "diet" drinks. Even though that isn't the primary focus of this article, I want to mention some of the more significant ones. Diet sodas cause increased insulin secretion, which can lead to a greater risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Diet soda intake shows a possible link to lower bone mineral density, decreased kidney function, and migraine headaches. Additionally, drinking diet cola has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity. There is actually a recent report published in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke linking diet soda to a higher risk of stroke and dementia. Pretty scary, huh? So, with my family history of cardiovascular disease and my constant battle controlling my weight, it is time for me to greatly reduce my diet cola intake and start hitting the bottle - the water bottle. But to do that, I will have to "get my want-to fixed" to use another one of Dad's phrases - one that he often directed straight at me.I'm reminded of a segment of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a classic poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. "Water, water, every where, and all the boards did shrink. Water, water, every where, nor any drop to drink." Water might be everywhere, but we must never take it for granted. Summer is upon us so proper hydration is a very timely topic. Generally, healthy people can let thirst be their guide to their fluid requirements. However, certain medications, including some used for heart disease, ulcers, or depression can alter one's thirst mechanism. So can certain diseases. But for most of us, an easy way to gauge how well hydrated we are, is to simply look at our urine. It should be fairly clear, but if it is dark yellow or has a strong odor, that's a sign we may need to drink more water.Dehydration occurs when the body loses more water than it takes in. It can happen to anyone, but the elderly, children, and those with chronic illnesses are at higher risk. In most cases, simply drinking more water can help, but severe dehydration requires immediate medical attention. When the body is dehydrated, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke can occur. One of the most common problems associated with dehydration is - you guessed it - constipation. The body needs to be hydrated for the colon to function properly, so drinking plenty of water can help keep things moving. Drinking plenty of water also helps the body purge other waste through sweat and urine. There are so many more problems we could mention that are associated with dehydration such as increased irritability, lack of concentration, grogginess, worsening of migraine headaches, dry skin, and even bad breath, but I'm out of room.Let me close by saying we just returned from an anniversary trip where we primarily drank bottled water. Since a Diet Coke sold for $5 per can - no way I was paying that much - I pretty much stopped drinking soda cold turkey. I now have a greater appreciation for our local, high-quality water supply. We all need to "tap in" to this amazing health resource.