H2O: Elixir of Health and Vitality

Water. We can’t live without it. Literally. It comprises about 70% of adult body weight and even more for infants and children. Essential to every cell in the body, water helps to . . .

  • maintain normal temperature through sweating and respiration
  • regulate thirst and appetite
  • transport nutrients in the bloodstream
  • remove waste and toxins through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements
  • reduce friction in joints and facilitate muscle contraction
  • balance pH level (acid and alkaline)
  • nourish the skin

8 x 8: Is That Really Enough Water For You?

Everyone’s hydration needs are different, depending upon age, gender, activity level, body composition, and overall health. It’s more myth than scientific fact that healthy people should drink 8 cups x 8 ounces of water daily. A better estimate is your body weight: Drink one-half ( ½) your weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 ounces of water each day.

Your Body Needs More Water When You:

  • are in hot, dry climates or at high altitudes
  • exercise or perform rigorous work
  • take certain medications
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • feel ill – running a fever, experiencing diarrhea or vomiting; during acute and chronic injury/illness

What Counts as Water?

Pure H2O is best, or water with electrolytes. Caffeine-free tea, such as herbal, can count toward daily fluid intake. Coffee and fruit juice don’t contribute to hydration. Food, such as celery, tomatoes, cucumber and melons, can contribute to daily water requirement depending on the proportion of fruits and vegetables in your diet.

 

Salt in Moderation is Not Your Enemy

If you have ever had the experience of drinking a lot of water only to have it pass right through you then you know how important electrolyte balance is to water absorption! But you don’t need to resort to way-too-sugary sports drinks with coal-tar-derived artificial colors in order to appreciate the benefits of electrolytes. You can buy a high-quality non-sugary electrolyte mix and add it to your water. We carry one in our clinic dispensary. Or you can make your own electrolyte drink with a pinch of natural sea salt (for example, Himalayan pink salt) and a little citrus juice. If you make your own, don’t use processed table salt as it can cause more harm than good. Natural sea salts contain a variety of trace minerals as well as a good balance of the major electrolytes.

Are You Dehydrated?

Dehydration means your body lacks the water required to function. Many people are in a chronic state of insufficient hydration. This can result in constipation, dry skin, inflammation, urinary tract infections, fatigue, and weight gain due to increased appetite.

Inadequate hydration makes it harder for the body to eliminate toxins and can quickly lead to acute dehydration, which is life threatening. Warning signs include dry mouth, irritability, headaches, and muscle cramps. If you don’t receive fluids, you become dizzy, clumsy and exhausted. The vital organs start shutting down. Without water, along with a healthy balance of electrolytes, you will enter into a coma and die.

You may have heard you can determine if you are dehydrated by the color of your urine. However, certain foods, supplements, and medications change urine color; it’s not a reliable guide. Your health practitioner can help you determine the amount of water that’s right for you.

Savvy Ways to Drink More Water:

  • Use a “dedicated” glass or water bottle. Choose a style and size that feels right to you. Keep it by your side. Sip throughout the day.
  • Add a small pinch of natural sea salt or other high-quality non-sugary electrolytes.
  • Do the citrus twist. Embellish water with slices of orange, lemon, or lime.
  • Get fizzy. Bubbly spring water hits the spot on a hot day. Look for carbonated water without added sweetener. Search online for recipes for making your own carbonated ginger or lemon-lime beverages.
  • Enjoy Virgin Sangria (or Earth Juice for kids). Pour water over fresh (or frozen) citrus, melon, blueberries or strawberries. Chill for a few hours. The water extracts some of the flavor, nutrients and color. Try with mixed fruits or carbonated water for a delicately sweetened, beautiful refreshment.

 

References

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  • Jequier E, Constant F. “Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration.” Eur J Clin Nutr. (2010) 64:115–123. 8 Mar 2017: http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v64/n2/full/ejcn2009111a.html
  • Murray, B. “Hydration and Physical Performance.” J Amer Coll of Nutrition (2007 Oct 26) [5 Suppl] 542S-548S. Accessed 8 Mar 2017: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17921463
  • USGS.gov “The Water in You.” Accessed 8 Mar 2017: https://water.usgs.gov/edu/propertyyou.html
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  • Long, M. “Sports Performance and Nutrition: A comprehensive guide.” Naturopathic Currents. (2015 April – Web). Accessed 8 Mar 2017: http://www.naturopathiccurrents.com/articles/sports-performance-and-nutrition-comprehensive-guide
  • HealthyEating.SFGate.com “Why do we need to drink water?” Accessed 8 Mar 2017: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/need-drink-water-4301.html
  • Project Wet (resource for grades 8 through 12) Accessed 8 Mar 2017: http://www.projectwet.org/sites/default/files/content/documents/hydration-activities.pdf
  • Centers for Disease Control. “Plain water, the healthier choice.” Accessed 7 Mar 2017: https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/plain-water-the-healthier-choice.html
  • “Water and Nutrition Basics.” Accessed 8 Mar 2017: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/nutrition/index.html
  • Mayo Clinic. “Factors that influence water needs.” Accessed 8 Mar 2017: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256?pg=2
  • McIntosh, J. “Why is drinking water important?” (Posted 4 Oct 2016) Accessed on 8 Mar 2017: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290814.php
  • UNM.edu. “Dehydration.” Accessed 8 Mar 2017: http://umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/dehydration