Glass ALL FULL!
Is your glass half full, or half empty? If it’s water, and you are not living in Flint MI, or in a third world country without access to safe clean water, you might consider your glass half full. But, as far as how healthy you are concerning water, it’s possible your are HALF EMPTY – if you are one of the estimated TWO THIRDS of us who suffer some degree of chronic dehydration! Why is it important? Our bodies, 60% water, function best when fully hydrated. Here’s why:
Every time your heart beats, you move your foot, take a breath, blink your eye, think a thought, water is part of the process. In fact, check out the percentages of water in these body parts, and imagine how well they function when lacking H20:
- blood 90%
- lungs = 80%
- kidneys = 82%
- heart = 79%
- bones = 22%
- brain = 83%
Even with full access most of us have to good water sources, we take water for granted, and stave our thirst with other drinks that are often dehydrating, or mistake thirst for hunger and overeat. If we wilted like a plant, or dried out like a lawn, we might take more notice! Actually, we do wilt, sort of. We’ll get to some of those symptoms later in the article. First, what water helps us with!
Our bodies are designed to run on water and minerals. Without either, our body will simply shut down. Not good! We can actually help our bodies stay YOUNGER LONGER by ensuring water is a resource always readily available for function. It:
- repairs and rebuilds bone, muscle, and tissue.
- attacks toxic or hostile organisms and infection
- our transmission system for nervous system messages
- gives us energy (5% drop in fluids = 30% drop in energy level)
- detox: cleans you from the inside – flushes out toxins and runs body more efficiently.
- lowers incidence of disease: (bladder/colon/breast cancer, ADD, chronic fatigue, Alzheimer’s disease)
- improves mood. 30% of people suffering from headaches find water resolves the issue
- enhances strength
- helps body release weight
- helps body cells behave younger for longer
- relieves arthritis and joint pain
- enhances protection against neurological disorders such as ADD, Alzheimer’s disease, or mood swings
You’re Dried Out If….
Thirst is our ‘go-to’ sense of needing water. However, by the time we feel thirsty, we are already depleted. If we ignore that, our body, as it gets more stressed and our functions more compromised (remember those percentages above?), has other ways to tell us we really need to kick it in gear. Here are some symptoms of more severe dehydration, a sign we need to take action immediately to stay healthy:
- exhaustion or daytime fatigue
- fuzzy short term memory, trouble with focus or math (only takes a 2% drop in body water)
- irritability or confusion
- tight inflexible skin
- dry mouth
- hungry all the time (body confuses hunger when it’s actually thirst)
- constipation or infrequent urination
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- low blood pressure
- rapid heartbeat or breathing
While glasses of water are best, other drinks that hydrate include iced and hot herbal teas and lightly flavored waters (see recipes in this issue). Broth and soups (especially nourishing bone broth for a double health bennie!), and dairy or nut milks. Fermented drinks such as kombucha and kefir are also super healthy options!
Most fruits and vegetables have water content of 80% or higher. These definitely count for your dietary water needs, with a bonus of the amazing vitamins and minerals they offer. Go for the highest, such as tomatoes, citrus, melons, cucumbers, leafy greens, and broccoli. Consider them in a drink such as a smoothie.
Other Hydrating choices:
Not as efficient as drinking or eating, bathing and swimming are still very beneficial for hydration – our skin is a great conduit to allow water to be absorbed. Best health benefits are found in the cleanest water – free of chemicals (especially chlorine and fluoride) or filled with nourishing minerals – think Epsom salt baths or a lovely relaxing dip in a hot spring, yay!
What’s NOT Hydrating?
Vending machines and grocery store shelves are loaded with drinks, but are they a healthy hydrating choice? Actually, our use of these products are one of the culprits of our state of dehydration. Often, they are loaded with artificial sweeteners or sugar, both of which are severely dehydrating. Caffeinated beverages are reputed to be dehydrating, and though this theory has been debunked by some, I still apply balance and moderation to coffee and caffeinated tea with my clients, by suggestion addition of one glass of water daily for every cup of tea or coffee. While alcohol has a few health benefits, one is NOT hydration! Alcoholic beverages are diuretics, so if you choose to use, drink one glass of water for each glass or bottle of alcohol to help balance your body’s needs (hangovers have plenty to do with dehydration by the way).
Quantity: eight glasses daily are the minimum recommended amount of water to drink. However, since bodies are different sizes with different needs, a more accurate estimation is one half your body weight in ounces (ie: 150 pound person = 75oz of water daily). Add more if you are more physically active, or out in dehydrating elements such as sun or wind.
Start your day with hydration: making a 16 ounce glass of water the first thing you do each morning will kick start your body from all that hard work of cleansing and healing through the night and help expel those toxins and waste it’s gathered. That hydration will awaken and restart function and energy you need for your day ahead. Boost it by squeezing half a lemon in the water to enhance the alkalinity your body thrives on.
Pre-measure the amount of water you’ll need for the day to make it easy to keep track. Many of my clients use a 32 or 64 ounce container in the fridge or on the counter. It’s easier to count two containers than 8 or 10 glasses, and making it handily available makes your water intake both simple and successful.
Make it special: flavor your water by making sun tea with a lovely herbal tea, or slice organic citrus or cucumber for a light, refreshing drink with a subtle deliciousness. One hotel I stayed in had a daily flavored water in the lobby – my fave was Watermelon water, with a beautiful display of freshly melon chunks that yielded a very light, tasty, refreshing drink – yum!! A blend of citrus fruit slices with a few berries is as delicious as it is lovely, and herbs such as fresh mint or lavender add another interesting twist to inspire or calm your mood. See the recipes in our newsletter for ideas!
It’s possible that you, like me, will experience an initial intense thirst you’ve not experienced before. Know that as you improve on your body’s water content, you are activating a new healthy conversation with your body that will enhance your health and youth. Congratulations! It’s a habit that will bring compliments, better immune resistance, healthier skin and moods, and become an appreciated ‘Feel Good’ lifestyle you’ll love!