The benefits of drinking water - plain ole water - may surprise you! Did you know that depression is a sign of dehydration? High blood pressure, fatigue, migraines, anxiety, and back pain are also indications of a need for WATER!
Excuse me, what?
Water is the number one nutritional deficiency in America. (If not the world.) That's a fairly bold statement, now isn't it? We know we need water, but the definition of "water" seems so ambiguous! Is flavored water in a plastic bottle real water? How about carbonated water in a can? How about mixing my water with a packet of sugar free pink powder that will taste like "fruit" and give me energy? Is that water? I use water to brew my coffee...that is obviously some water intake for the day, right? Well, the answers to these may surprise you a bit, but the good news is that I have these answers and a few very easy tricks that everyone can implement today to start rehydrating.
A few of water's roles within the body:
- Regulating body temperature
- Transporting toxins out of the tissues of the body
- Cushions bones and lubricates joints
- Allows for easy cell-to-cell communication
- Moistens respiratory tract for easy breathing
- Maintains the correct electrical charge within the body's cells
- Adequate hydration makes blood and lymph flow easily through the vessels
- Prevents constipation
Kind of important for basically all aspects of bodily function, and yet, your doctor is likely NOT prescribing more water if you show up at their office with extreme fatigue and migraines.
So is it a big deal? Why should you care?
Early Signs of Dehydration
Mature Signs of Dehydration
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Pressure
- Joint Pain / Back Pain
I know what you're thinking right now. It's one of 3 things:
1. I WOULD DRINK MORE WATER BUT I DON'T HAVE TIME TO BE PEEING ALL DAY LONG.
This is obviously a valid concern, and I have absolutely been one that made the mistake of drinking way too much water and being in the bathroom every 20 minutes. What I didn't understand at the time was that if I was peeing that much, I was also flushing the electrolytes (minerals) within my body right out. No bueno. The electrolyte minerals are what hold an electric charge and literally pull the water into the cells of our bodies. If we flush the electrolytes out, there is nothing to hold the water in that we are drinking.
SOLUTION: ADD A PINCH OF UNREFINED SEA SALT TO EACH BOTTLE OF WATER
You won't taste the salt in this small of an amount, but the trace minerals within the unrefined sea salt (pink himalayan would be great as well) will keep electrolytes in balance within the body, keep the water in the cells, and therefore you won't be peeing as much.
2. I DRINK PLENTY OF WATER. WELL, PLENTY OF LIQUIDS. THAT'S THE SAME THING, RIGHT?
In a word, NO. Most Americans spend the entire day sucking down diuretic beverages. We start the morning with a cup (or a pot) of coffee, move onto soft drinks or juice from there, and straight back into coffee in the afternoon slump and a glass of wine with dinner. Sure, those beverages are made from water, but they are not hydrating. A diuretic, as all of those are, pull water from the cells of our body and are excreted into urine rapidly. Each time we take a sip of coffee or alcohol (or juice, soda, some teas, or energy drinks) we are further depleting our bodies of water on a cellular level.
Over time, the human body will draw water from every last store that it can, which amounts to it being slowly leached from connective tissue like cartilage. What do we get when years of dehydration rob our cartilage of the moisture that makes it spongy? You guessed it: back and joint pain. (This is just one example!)
SOLUTION: BODYWEIGHT DIVIDED BY TWO PLUS 1.5 TIMES THE DIURETIC INTAKE
Take your bodyweight and divide it by two. This is the amount of water you should drink each day, measured in OUNCES. Estimate the amount of diuretic beverages you consume on a daily basis, and add 1.5 times that amount to your baseline to account for the water your body will lose by drinking those diuretics. This will be your total for the day.
Example: 150 pound woman who drinks 2 cups of coffee a day (purely hypothetical, of course)
150/2 = 75oz PLUS 3 cups of water due to the coffee intake
3. WATER TASTES SO BORING! I WOULD RATHER HAVE _________. (Beer? Me, too.)
Ok, I get this. I do. I drank pop all day everyday for the first 25 years of my life. I absolutely understand the notion that a refreshing beverage should be cold and fizzy. Like pop. Or better yet, beer. I had to retrain myself to believe that thirst equaled a need for water and nothing else, and it took a little time. You can do this, too!
Let's just dip a toe into the water (see what I did there?) in terms of water purity: It is really important to think about where your water came from. Tap water from municipal sources is treated with chlorine and other additives in different concentrations depending on the area, and fluoride may or may not be added as well. Neither of those are good to drink, which is why many European countries have banned the fluoridation of the water supply. If at all possible, filter your drinking water! If you have a well, it is a great practice to get the water tested for impurities or heavy metals. A reverse osmosis system is great for anyone if your budget allows, but just remember that this also takes out all the good trace minerals that your body needs as well. You can re-mineralize filtered water with a few drops of a mineral solution, so that's no biggie...just don't forget!
THE SOLUTION: GET A GOOD WATER BOTTLE AND DRINK PURE WATER FROM IT ALL DAY!
This one is pretty easy. You just have to do it! If you are used to drinking from a plastic water bottle, I would really suggest investing in a stainless steel or glass vessel instead. Over time, the plasticizers can (and will) leach into your water. There are many great stainless steel lined or glass lined bottles, BUT if you are in a pinch for cash just use a big mason jar! Doesn't get any easier than that.
I know you want your water to taste less watery, but pouring powdery packets in to make it a chemical shitstorm isn't the answer....so let's just take that off the table. Slice up some lemon or cucumber or other fruit and throw it in if you are feeling frisky, but no fruity powder packets, ok?
Look at that! The first step to changing the way you feel in your body is as easy as drinking more pure water and less diuretic beverages. Not too shabby.
Now buy a sassy water bottle for each member of your family, add a pinch of sea salt and a squeeze of lemon and bottoms up!
Do you have a favorite trick to staying hydrated, especially in the heat?
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