30 Apr Water Water Everywhere (excerpt from Coordinating Chaos)
“Did you know that 76% of Americans are functioning in a chronic state of dehydration? True. It’s common to hear that water is essential for your health. But why? Water is your body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Your body depends on water to survive, so by depriving our body of the water it needs, we are not allowing it to function at its full ability. Which, of course, can lead to all kinds of issues. Drinking enough water is one of the most important things you can do for your body.
Quickly, here are a few benefits of drinking enough water:
- It lubricates the joints cartilage, found in joints and the disks of the spine, which contains around 80 percent water. If you are dehydrated for a longer period of time, it can reduce the joints’ shock-absorbing ability, leading to joint pain and inflammation.
- It forms saliva and mucus saliva, which helps us digest our food and keeps the mouth, nose, and eyes moist. This prevents friction and damage. Drinking water also keeps the mouth clean. Consumed instead of sweetened beverages, it can also help reduce tooth decay.
- It delivers oxygen throughout the body. Blood is more than 90 percent water, and blood carries oxygen to different parts of the body.
- It boosts skin health and elasticity. With dehydration, the skin can become more vulnerable to skin disorders and premature wrinkling.
- It cushions the brain, spinal cord, and other sensitive tissues. Dehydration can affect brain structure and function. Hydration is also involved in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters. So, prolonged dehydration can lead to problems with thinking and reasoning.
- It regulates body temperature. Some scientists have suggested that when there is too little water in the body, heat storage increases and the individual is less able to tolerate heat strain. Having sufficient water in the body may reduce physical strain if heat stress occurs during exercise.
- The digestive system depends on it. Dehydration can lead to digestive problems and an overly acidic stomach. This increases the risk of heartburn and stomach ulcers.
- The bowel needs water to work properly. Dehydration can cause constipation. Hydration flushes out body waste and toxins through the processes of sweating and removal of urine and feces.
- It helps maintain blood pressure. A lack of water can cause blood to become thicker, increasing blood pressure
- The airways need it. When dehydrated, airways are restricted by the body in an effort to minimize water loss. This can make asthma and allergies worse.
- It makes minerals and nutrients accessible. These dissolve in water which makes it possible for them to reach different parts of the body.
- It prevents kidney damage. The kidneys regulate fluid in the body. Insufficient water can lead to kidney stones and other problems.
- It boosts performance during exercise. Some scientists have proposed that consuming more water might enhance performance during strenuous activity. More water is needed when you are exercising to prevent dehydration because you are losing so much through sweat.
- Water may also help with weight loss, if it is consumed instead of sweetened juices and sodas. “Preloading” with water before meals can help prevent overeating by creating a sense of fullness.
So the benefits of being hydrated are massive and it’s clear to see what an impact getting enough water can have on your entire body. But, how much water do you need each day? It’s a simple question with a lot of different answers. You’ve probably heard the advice, “Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.” That’s easy to remember, and it’s a reasonable goal. But depending on activity level and weight, that might not be enough. According to holistic nutritionists, the formula for deciding on how much water you need can be even simpler than that – just take your body weight in pounds and divide it in half. That is a good estimate of how much water you should drink in ounces each day. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you should drink 80 ounces of water.
Remembering, though, is another issue. I am so busy each day that a lot of the time, I will look up and 3 hours have already passed by – I didn’t remember to make lunch for myself let alone keep track of how much water I drank. What I do to keep me on track – is fill up a giant water bottle in the beginning of the day. It is marked with how many ounces AND a time of the day. So not only does it help me keep track of what I’ve drunk, it also motivates me to keep on going. If it’s 1pm, and my water level is still at 10am – I know I gotta step it up.
I also hear often in my coaching, “But I don’t like water.” Well first, get over it. You need it. So suck it up, buttercup. (Literally, suck it up, use a straw if it makes it easier to get all that water down. I pour my big jug of water into a cup with a straw and ice, because that makes it easier for me.) But also, if you really do have a hard time with water, mix it up a little bit. Try flavored sparkling waters like La Croix or Bubblys. Add fruit to your water for flavor. Drink iced tea with no caffeine. With all of these choices, you are still getting your water intake but it might make it a little yummier, and a little more fun. A small caveat – artificial sweeteners, while ‘zero’ calories, are artificial still. So stay away from those types of additives – they aren’t doing your health any good.
Whatever works for you, find a system so that you can make sure you are staying hydrated and helping your body function as efficiently as it can, so that you can do everything you need to do in your busy-mama-day.”
Check out the rest in my book Coordinating Chaos!