Water is the single most critical nutrient for health, growth, and development. Did you know it is also the most abundant nutrient in your body? Up to 60% of the adult human body is made up of water. Water is also critical to all of your body systems, which includes the integumentary, cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, lymphatic, immune, muscular, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, urine, skeletal and in some books, the craniosacral system. All of your systems require water to properly function! This is why you may have had therapists at Freed Bodyworks suggest you drink plenty of water. But, why do we suggest you drink plenty of water?
Here are a few cool facts about the benefits of staying hydrated:
1. Staying hydrated can actually lower your stress. Your body and your mind will become stressed if you are dehydrated. While I acknowledge that it is more complicated than that, it is also just that simple.
2. Mild dehydration is also one of the most common causes of daytime fatigue. If your body can’t get enough fluid from cells, your cells begin to draw water from your bloodstream. As a result, your blood will thicken which puts more strain on your cardiovascular system. This can create that tired, weak or groggy feeling you may be experiencing.
3. Drinking water helps prevent muscle cramping and lubricates your joints. Synovial fluid provides cushion and protection for your joints. Water is needed to nourish and produce Synovial fluid, so if you become dehydrated there is less synovial fluid available to protect the joints.
4. Water might also eliminate the need for “special” products to get rid of fine lines, wrinkles, and itchy dry skin. Fine lines and winkles are actually deeper when you're dehydrated. Water hydrates skin cells and can actually help you look younger. It also flushes out impurities and improves circulation and blood flow leaving you with that “glowing” look. When I look in the mirror, it’s usually not to check my hair (I already know it’s unruly); I am looking at my eyes. If they are puffy, darkened or sunken, I know I need more water ASAP.
5. Water is great for your digestion! Your digestive system needs water to flush impurities along and to stay lubricated. If you are dehydrated, your body’s digestive system does not have the water it needs to keep those bowels moving.
6. Water can also boost your metabolism. You’ve probably heard that drinking more water can help you lose weight. I’m not talking about the concept where it can make you feel more full if you drink a glass of water before a meal, so you consume less food. I’m talking about how water plays a large role in metabolism by helping to break down food to generate molecules of nutrients such as starches, triglycerides and protein, for easy digestion. It also assists in breaking down bonds to create smaller molecules of glucose, fatty acids and amino acids.
So how much is enough?
Well, that all depends on the source of information. You are probably pretty familiar with the standard recommendation of 8 – 8 oz. of water a day. Some sources say for every pound you weigh, you should drink a ½ oz. of water. So, if you are 150 lbs., you should drink 75 oz. or water. I have also read that the “average” male should drink 3 liters a day and the average female should drink 2.2 liters a day. The amount of water you need to drink to stay properly hydrated depends on a variety of factors including, age, activities, geographic location, wellness, foods you eat, alcohol and caffeine intake and much more.
Personally, I go with ½ oz. of water for each pound that I weigh. I can personally attest to the fact that staying hydrating can improve the functioning of your joints (i.e. less pain and more mobility), make you look years younger by eliminating or decreasing thin lines and winkles, improve digestion and provide you with sustainable energy. I am 45 years old and to this day, I have bartenders give me suspicious looks when I show them my ID. They turn it over, then over again, and over a few more times, hold it up to the light, take out a magnifying glass (not really), ask to see it again, etc. Every joint in my body that has been x-rayed (and that includes most of them) shows varying degrees of arthritis and I get along pretty well with limited pain as long as stay hydrated and do other important self-care activities like stretching and eating healthy. Granted, other habits have contributed to my youthful looks, but you can ask me personally if you would like to know my other tricks.
Here’s are a few hydration tips:
Tip #1: If you're feeling thirsty, you're already a little dehydrated.
Tip #2: If it sounds like an impossible feat to drink ½ of your body weight in ounces, break it down to something that does seem possible. I basically strive for 5 – 16 oz. glasses a day. I have a 16 oz. glass that I keep in the kitchen and my water bottle is 20 oz. For me, knowing the size of my glass is important. Once I have figured out the math, all I need to keep track of is the number of glasses I have consumed that day.
I drink a glass of water when I get up and another glass as I get ready or right before I leave the house. I drink at least 16oz of water at lunch, another during the afternoon and another one at dinner. Boom! I’ve had my five glasses a day. That doesn’t even include water I may get from the foods I eat and other qualifying beverages.
Keeping my glass on the kitchen counter is also a reminder to drink water when I go into the kitchen. Even if I don’t drink a full glass, it helps me keep track of how much I have had. If I’m at work, I drink 16oz of water in between massage sessions.
Tip #3: If you are worried about having to go to the loo all of the time, try drinking a full glass of water at a time instead of sipping. A naturopathic doctor recommended this trick to me and I’ve been happy with the results. She also suggested that I added a pinch of Celtic mineral sea salt to my water. It’s a great way to get more minerals and the small amount of salt helps your body to absorb the water. A good guideline for the pinch of salt… if you can taste the salt in your water, you have probably added to much. So back to increased urination, sure I still pee about every 2-3 hours, but I find staying hydrated is worth the extra trips to the loo. I might also add that I sleep about 8 hours and don’t need to get up in the middle of the night to pee. I travel a lot and I still find it worth staying hydrated. Ugh, just think of a day of travel with no water. My sinuses were dry, my skin was dry, my mouth was dry, my appetite was out of whack, I had a headache and I actually felt hung-over (no alcohol involved) by the time I got to my destination. No, thanks! It’s been pretty rare that I have had to go to pee and not been able to. I think that was my fear behind staying hydrated when I travelled.
Besides, so what if you pee in your pants! According to Adam Sandler, “You ain’t cool unless you pee your pants.” And, don’t we all just want to be cool. I am totally kidding on this one! Please do not pee in your pants because Sue Pate at Freed Bodyworks said it was ok.
Tip #4: Do your lips feel chapped even though you haven’t been outside in the elements? Or, is your skin itchy and dry? Both are great indicators that you may be dehydrated.
So does this mean I should only drink water?
Absolutely not! I would be very sad if I had to give up coffee and happy hour. To stay properly hydrated, I drink more that 1/2oz for each pound I weigh. I probably take in about 100oz on any given day.
Do an experiment.
Take a close up photo of your face. Then drink 1/2oz of water for each pound that you weigh everyday for a week. Try to drink a little more if you are a caffeine and alcohol consumer like myself. At the end of the week, take another close up photo of your face and compare the two photos side by side. Ask your friends and family to also look at the photos side by side to see if they notice a difference. Add to the experiment and don’t tell them when each photo was taken and see if they can guess correctly. If you are at least a little convinced of how proper hydration is creating good changes in your body, try it for another week and you will see even more great changes. And, if you can do it for a third week, guess what happens after 21 days? A new habit is formed!
I’ll be the first to admit, access to “clean” drinking water is a global and complicated issue. This blog is only to get you to think about the benefits of staying properly hydrated. If you feel in anyway that the points discussed in this blog could be harmful to you, please discuss the issue of hydration with your primary care physician or take what works for you here and leave the rest.
Yours truly in the quest to stay hydrated,