Staying well hydrated is a 'no brainer', right? Well, hydration still remains a key naturopathic recommendation as chronic dehydration is so rampant. A survey conducted by New York Hospital and Cornell Medical Center found that 75% of its 3,003 subjects were experiencing net fluid loss from chronic dehydration. It's no exaggeration to say that the US is in a crisis of dehydration!
For many of us with busy, dynamic lives, hydration can often be the first thing that goes out the window. To complicate matters, we may misinterpret our thirst cue as hunger or even a need for rest; as we age our thirst response actually weakens. It's easy to see that proper hydration can become an uphill battle!
The classic, Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, is a compelling synthesis of Dr. Batmanghelidj's twenty years of clinical and scientific research into the critical role of water in human physiology. It describes how certain metabolic pathways (histamine in particular) compensate for lack of water, and how unintentional chronic dehydration (UCD) produces stress, chronic pain and can lead to degenerative conditions such as: decreased kidney function, kidney stones, hypertension, urinary tract infections, digestive issues, and even neurological symptoms.
Water is important to nearly every part of our body, so not only will hitting our daily recommended intake help maintain our current state of being, it may even improve our overall health.
Water is always working behind the scenes in our body by:
- Regulating body temperature
- Moistening tissues in the eyes, nose and mouth
- Carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells
- Lubricating joints
- Supporting kidney and liver function
- Making minerals and nutrients more accessible
Since our bodies average about 50 to 70 percent water, much of that water has to be replaced every day. We lose water through our breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements - which is why it’s important to continue to take in water throughout the day. For our bodies to function at their best, we must replenish our water supply with beverages and food that contain water. A typical recommendation for an adult is ½ body weight in ounces of filtered water daily.
Here’s why we should hydrate like it's our job:
It keep the bowels moving
Dehydration is the most common cause of constipation—small, hard, infrequent, and uncomfortable bowel movements. Normally, high fiber foods in the intestines absorb and hold on to water. This keeps the stools soft, large, and easy to pass. When we do not drink enough water, the body steals water away from the stools.
It supports muscle health
Our muscles are 70 to 75 percent water. When we're dehydrated, our muscles don’t work as well. They tighten and are more easily fatigued.
It supports cognition
Like muscles, the brain is 70 to 75 percent water. A dehydrated brain can be a foggy brain.
It curbs overeating
A glass of room temperature water before every meal to curb the appetite a bit.
It supports recovery from respiratory illness
Drinking water is especially important when we have a cold or fever. Fluids keeps the breathing passages from drying out and getting plugged with mucus. Water will loosen the secretions in the lungs associated with a deep chest cough. Hydration will also makes up for the water lost through sweat—one of the body’s strategies for keeping cool and fighting fevers.
Let's make hydrate already! Here are some tips:
- Drink ½ body weight in ounces of filtered water (note that with RO (reverse osmosis) we'll need to replenish minerals in the water)
- Carry a water bottle to be able to drink at any point during the day
- Keep track of intake, and aim to take in the optimal amount each day (check out hydration apps for added help)
- Strive to drink half of the daily recommended consumption by midday. Consider stopping about an hour before sleep to prevent night time waking to urinate.
- If the flavor of water is too boring, consider drinking caffeine-free herbal teas or infusing water with a squirt of lemon or lime or infusing it with fruit.
- Drink an extra glass of water for every cup of coffee or glass of alcohol.
There's plenty of incentive to recommit to better hydration. This simple act alone can have far reaching effects on our physical and mental health - this element is SO essential to our body’s cellular functioning, it's like what oil is to a car.
now let's drink (water) to that!