Stay hydrated, stay healthy
Did you know that water, in many ways, is actually a nutrient? And that it is the most common nutritional deficiency in our population? While it technically does not have vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins or carbohydrates, water is absolutely essential for all of those other nutrients to get where they need to go. Considering that our bodies are made up of roughly 60 percent water, it is critical to maintain a good amount of water intake. It is possible to survive for weeks without food, but only days without water.
Some of the many important roles of water in the body are: transporting nutrients; regulating body temperature; cushioning bones and joints; flushing toxins and removing wastes; and empowering the body’s natural healing processes.
How do you know if you are drinking enough water? A simple way is to look at your urine. It should be pale in color and odorless. If it is dark or cloudy, or has a distinct odor, this is a sure sign of dehydration and possibly an indicator of issues within the body about which you would want to check with a professional.
Below are additional signs of dehydration; see how many you recognize: Early signs include fatigue, anxiety, irritability, depression, cravings, cramps, headaches and hunger (sometimes we think we’re hungry when we are, in fact, thirsty). Mature signs may include heartburn, joint pain, back pain, migraines and constipation.
The best times to drink water is between meals. When you first wake up in the morning, a warm glass of water with ½ of a lemon squeezed into it will help jump-start your digestion. Drink minimally during meals, as too much liquid can dilute the body’s own digestive juices.
We will very quickly reach for a bottle of soda, juice or even “vitamin water,” before reaching for a simple glass of water. We spend money on these products that are filled with toxins and chemicals that do our bodies harm. In truth, there is no need to drink anything at all other than pure water.
Bottled water in plastic bottles is not recommended for a few reasons. First, you are spending unnecessary money. Second, the chemicals in the plastic leach into the water and, especially on hot summer days, you can be sure those chemicals are going into you. Is that something you really want in your body? Third, plastic water bottles contribute to enormous waste and pollution. I recommend getting a reusable stainless steel or glass bottle, and use that to keep you hydrated throughout the day.
A simple carbon filter can be helpful in reducing or eliminating chemicals in tap or well water. They are economical and help keep the water going into your body more pure.
As a guideline, try to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim to drink 75 ounces of water each day. We lose somewhere between 1 to 3 quarts of water a day between sweat, urine and feces. It is really important to replenish this lost water.
Do you drink coffee, tea, juice, soda or alcohol? If so, for every ounce of those beverages, you need an additional ounce of water. These beverages are diuretics and they pull water out of the body. Prescription drugs are also diuretic, and will drain our body’s own store of water.
If the idea of plain old water doesn’t appeal to you, there are ways to enhance it naturally. Add a few grains of sea salt (not table salt) to water, with a splash of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice. Pour it into a glass jar and keep it in the fridge to drink throughout the day. Add fresh fruits, herbs, like mints, lemon balm, rosemary, etc., to a glass or bottle of water. The possibilities are really limitless. Another alternative to plain water is coconut water. This is an excellent re-hydrator, especially after physical activity.
Here is a simple recipe to replace those toxic, colored “sports” drinks. This is much more economical and so much more healthy and satisfying to the body:
Homemade sports drink recipe
Juice of ½ lemon and/or lime
1 quart water
1 teaspoon raw honey (local is best)
Pinch of sea salt (not the iodized “table” salt)
Mix together, chill and serve — makes 1 quart.
Tip: Use in popsicle molds to make a refreshing treat for a hot day.
See what combinations of flavors you can come up with using pure water as your base. Challenge yourself to stay truly hydrated this summer and notice how your body feels better when you do.
Jeni Hall of Dublin is a board certified nutritional therapist practicing in the Monadnock region. Her mission is to empower you to heal your own body and keep it healthy. See www.jenihall.com, for more information.