Summer's Coming! Let's Talk About Hydration.
When was the last time you drank 8 glasses or more of water in a day? (Have you ever?) Do you drink that much in other liquids like sodas and energy drinks? Coffee? Tea? Juice? Alcohol? Do you drink anywhere near that much liquid any day?
The human body is made up of approximately 75% water. Humans could survive nearly a month without food, but if deprived of refreshing liquid, we would be lucky to survive a full week.
Water in our bodies is a carrier of nutrients and wastes. It cushions our joints, and regulates our body temperature. Oftentimes when we “feel hungry” we are actually dehydrated and thirsty and our cravings for food can be harnessed after enjoying a healthful drink.
Staying fully hydrated has been shown to enable many cellular functions to work optimally, as well as prevent many debilitating diseases and problems. Hydration...
Increases Bowel Movements Relieves Hemorrhoids
Prevents or Relieves Heartburn Prevents or Relieves Gallstones
Lowers Risk of Colon Cancer Supports Cardiovascular Health
Relieves and Prevents Arthritis Prevents Urinary Tract Infections
Prevents or Relieves Kidney Stones Reduces Pain, Risk and Occurrences of Ulcers
Is Critical for Healthy Skin Helps Manage the Effects of Alcoholism
Improves or Eliminates Acid Reflux (GERD) Helps Prevent Obesity
Other health conditions that are believed to be improved by staying hydrated are AIDS, Angina, Asthma and Allergies, Colitis, Depression, Heartburn, High Cholesterol, Hypertension, Diabetes, and Pain.
Elderly people and people who live in dry, arid climates and high altitudes are more susceptible to dehydration than most, and some medications are dehydrating. Dehydration can be identified through many different symptoms including:
Dry Lips and Mouth Dizziness Headaches Forgetfulness or Confusion
Rapid Breathing Dark Urine Constipation Muscle Weakness
Heart palpitations Fatigue Increased Heart Rate
Possessing the habit of drinking plentiful healthful fluids in order to expel a quart of urine a day is one of the most powerful behaviors to help you maintain your health and well-being. A good rule of thumb is to drink half of your weight in ounces in fresh pure liquids per day.
All liquid is not equal! Water, mineral and bone broths, fresh squeezed juices, and herbal teas will support your hydration without added sweeteners, or artificial colors and ingredients. Be cautious of commercial juices which are often highly sweetened, or are only partially made from real fresh juice. Milk (bovine, goat, and nuts as tolerated), soups, and fruits and vegetables are also great sources of hydration. Some studies show that caffeine will dehydrate, so should be balanced with more healthful fluids when consumed. It is recommended that an 8-oz glass of water be consumed between alcoholic drinks. This will support liver function, decrease the amount of alcohol consumed, and help to prevent headache and other hangover symptoms.
It is advised to not drink liquids 10 minutes before, during and after meals so as to not impact the pH stasis within the different stages of digestion. Liquid, when taken with food can potentially dilute the very powerful hydrochloric acid required in the stomach to prepare for nutrient absorption in your small intestine. Too much liquid with meals can also cause heartburn and gas.
We need to be aware of our hydration every day of the year, but we must be especially vigilant as the weather turns warmer and we spend time expending energy as we work and play more outside. Athletes must replace all of the moisture they lose in workouts, and anyone who sweats should replace your loss of fluids with even more than the recommended 1/2 your weight in ounces.
We must protect our water - this most vital and valuable substance on the planet! More and more we are finding toxins such as heavy metals, pathogens, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and carcinogens in our water sources. Supporting organizations such as the Environmental Working Group, The Water Project, Environment America and American Rivers will assist in ensuring that someone is looking out for the welfare of our water availability and quality.
Now let's go drink a glass of water while we're thinking about it!
References for this article are available upon request.