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Quench Your Thirst

Hello!  I hope you had a safe, healthy, and fun weekend!  I’ve got a sick little guy on my hands today so it’s lots of rest, movies, and snuggles going on here, while Daddy/daughter are out and about.  One of the really important things to remember, especially with a sick child, is hydration.  So my baby boy is the inspiration behind today’s post.

Water is glorious.  It’s so refreshing and I love that no one can really argue about its necessity.  Whether you follow a lifestyle of Paleo, vegetarian, vegan, Zone, Atkins, low fat, low sugar, ketogenic, AIP, FODMAPS, etc…we all need water.  Period.

Not only is water glorious, but it’s also the most common nutritional deficiency in the American population.

Water is a crucial part to our daily diet.  Wouldn’t it be so amazing if we had the ability to store this stuff like camels?  Well, sadly it isn’t so.  We can go roughly 8 weeks without food, but only days without having any water.  Because of that, it is so important to remain hydrated, or things can go downhill pretty quickly.  This makes me think of what I’m constantly telling myself on days when I’m in no mood to clean again: It’s easier to keep up than to catch up.  It’s easier to maintain and clean up the little messes here and there rather than let an entire room go for days and then have to spend a chunk of time and energy diving into a huge mess.  The same thought can apply to hydration. It’s better to maintain my hydration status by sipping water throughout the day, giving my body the fluid it needs to function properly, instead of forcing it to push through without water for so long and then screaming at me to drink some water by giving me a pounding headache.  Am I right?  I’m sure you’ve been there before.  Granted, there are, of course, many possible reasons for a headache, but one that’s often overlooked is simply a need for some water.  Try it next time.  Instead of immediately reaching for the pain reliever pills, try giving yourself about 30 minutes to slowly drink some water.  If the headache goes away, you’re likely dehydrated.

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So what does water actually do for our bodies?  Water plays many important roles in the body.  It aids in digestion by helping to transport nutrients in the bloodstream, and flushing out toxins and wastes.  Water helps our skeletal structure by lubricating bones and joints, and helps to absorb shock to the joints and organs.  Even our cells are greatly affected by proper hydration because when they are well-hydrated, oxygen delivery and cellular communication improve.  And did you ever notice your body feels so much stiffer in a dehydrated state?  That’s because water prevents tissues from sticking and without enough water, that lubrication suffers.  Water also has the very important job of helping to regulate body temperature.  I’d say those are pretty important roles for this simple clear liquid.

Smart ways to stay hydrated:

Drink water!  This seems obvious but it’s something that requires a conscious effort, so it often gets put on the back burner.  My personal favorite way to remember to drink is to depend on my trusty Lifefactory glass water bottle.  It’s a 22oz bottle so I aim to drink about 3 fills daily.  I find that easier than refilling glass after glass – but that’s just me.  And I find the taste of water from glass far better than drinking it from plastic.  Wondering how much water you actually need?  Eight 8oz glasses a day can be a good starting point, but here’s a simple equation to help you figure out what YOUR body needs.

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So if you weigh 150 lbs, you’ll want to aim for about 75 ounces of water daily.

Increase fruits and vegetables.  These foods naturally contain water.  Our current food industry is a big reason people are not properly hydrated.  All these packaged and processed foods have been dehydrated for the sake of extending shelf life.  So if the majority of your diet consists of foods from a package, you’re likely missing out on some necessary water (among other things).  You’ll want to put a little extra effort in to hydrate.

Decrease caffeinated beverages.  Drinks like coffee, most teas, alcohol, soda, and some fruit juices act as diuretics and have a negative impact on hydration.  To replenish after a caffeine consumption, let’s do a little more math.

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This requires an extra step because you’ll need to replace the water you’re losing with diuretics.  So if the same 150 lb person from earlier also drinks 10 ounces of coffee each day, their water intake now increases from 75 ounces to 90 ounces to accommodate for the coffee (10 x 1.5 = 15, then 15 + 75 = 90).

The source matters.

Before you start guzzling a whole bunch of water from your tap, I encourage you to have it tested.  Tap water can be filled with things like chlorine and fluoride, parasites, heavy metals, etc.  This will vary by area, so in this case, knowledge is power.  Have it tested and then you’ll know.

Invest in a good water filtration system.  There are many kinds out there so a bit of research will be necessary.  Even many bottled water brands are simply tap water and somewhat filtered at best.  This doesn’t mean ALL brands.  Check out this site for info on bottled waters.  Just do your best to avoid water with hazardous extras.

On a different note though, the water that has virtually nothing in it, like distilled water, isn’t all that great either.  In order for your body to hang on to and use water, you also need to have a good balance of minerals/electrolytes.  So most water that you drink has some natural minerals in it and that’s a positive thing.  If you were to start drinking distilled water regularly, over a period of time, it can actually start to dehydrate you by flushing out your minerals, throwing off that balance.  Distilled water, since its “empty”, is a sort of thirsty water, meaning it will bind to your minerals to find that natural balance.  Then as the water is excreted through the urinary system, so are the minerals it pulled.  So even though you’re drinking plenty of this distilled water, you’re still becoming dehydrated.  A good balanced water is one that is filtered in a way to remove the hazardous stuff but keeps those beneficial electrolytes.

How does your body tell you it needs water?

Fatigue, anxiety, irritability, depression, cravings, cramps, headaches

If THOSE are ignored for too long, then your body screams louder by coming down with heartburn, joint pain, back pain, migraines, fibromyalgia, constipation, and colitis.  Keep in mind, there are many possible reasons for conditions like these, but water is definitely one.

If you’d like to read more on this topic, check out the book Your Body’s Many Cries for Water by F. Batmanghelidj, M.D.  I mentioned this book a few posts back, and I did express my annoyance with it, BUT it is a really interesting read to see how so many conditions CAN be cured or improved simply by rehydrating.  It’s good stuff.

Now go get yourself a big ol’ glass of water!

In good health,

Michelle

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