What if I told you there’s one ingredient that can increase energy, improve digestion, help you maintain a healthy weight (and help with weight loss), keep your skin glowing and reduce risk of headaches, would you want to know what it is? If I told you it’s safe for kids, allergen free, fat free, gluten free, sugar free, zero calorie, easy to prepare and ethically acceptable for vegetarians, would you think it was too good to be true? And if I told you it’s moderately priced and readily available, would you try it? I’d like to introduce you to your #1 health and wellness essential; water.
The human body is about 60% water by weight and volume. It’s contained in our tissue, blood, bones and elsewhere in the body. Ensuring we maintain the right amount of body water is called fluid balancing and it’s a critical aspect of homeostasis – our internal regulating system. We can go for weeks without food but can only live 2-3 days without water.
Most people significantly underestimate the impact water has on their health. Dehydration is linked to a host of health issues like migraines, digestive distress, lethargy, chronic pain and obesity. Unfortunately, by the time we’re thirsty our bodies are already dehydrated. This risk increases with the elderly because they do not “experience” thirst as often.
Drinking sufficient water promotes the closing of your vascular system throughout your body, reducing headache pain and helping prevent future attacks. Water flushes the kidneys and bladder and moves dead cells and waste out of the body (detoxifies). Water is essential to healthy digestion. An 8oz. glass of water 30 minutes before eating has been proven to accelerate weight loss, water can reduce sugar cravings and improves nutrient absorption and the body’s metabolic function. Water keeps skin plump while dehydration causes wrinkles, crow’s feet and sagging in the neck. Water contains pain relieving properties and can reduce pain associated with back and arthritic pain brought on by internal drought.
Water is our body’s main source of energy. We wouldn’t let our car run dry so don’t let your body run dry either. Stay hydrated by establishing regular water breaks throughout your day. How much water you need and when can vary depending on lifestyle or pre-existing issues like urinary frequency. As a general rule, drinking half your body weight (in ounces) per day will keep you well hydrated. A woman weighing 140 pounds would drink 70 ounces (aboutnine, 8 oz. glasses) per day. A few examples of when you need more water; before and after heavy exercise, in hotter temperatures, before and after air travel.
People often ask me if sport drinks, coffee and tea will keep them hydrated. The short answer is yes… and no. Every drink other than water has an “agenda” in your body. Sugar, caffeine or artificial sweeteners will have an impact on your body that interferes with the objective of staying hydrated. So, while these drinks do hydrate the body, all of them also come with either natural or chemical additives that dehydrate the body. And while we get water from our food, that too is what I consider a secondary source. If you dislike the taste of water, try adding a slice of lemon, lime, orange or cucumber to give your water a healthful flavor lift.
Whether you choose tap, bottled or filtered water, it’s important to feel confident in your water source (recent reports coming out of Flint Michigan are a cautionary tale). If you’re drinking unfiltered tap water and are not sure of the quality, have it tested. If you drink bottled water, know that most of what’s on the shelf is filtered tap water. Further, disposable bottled water options take a huge toll on our planet. In my practice, I recommend clients get a water filter for their kitchen faucet and a PBA free, re-usable container for water on the go. It’s up to you and your budget; there are lots of options available.
Water, served straight up, on the rocks, shaken or stirred, is the essential fluid of life. Somewhere along the line, we supplanted it with drinks that aren’t essential to our health and often cause harm. Do yourself a favor, get hydrated, stay hydrated and enjoy the amazing benefits of our planet’s most essential resource. Cheers!