Q: Water? Or An Almond Milk Latte?
Almond milk latte, right?! But for today, let’s give back the spotlight to water a bit here. Why should we be making efforts to drink so much of it again? What does it do for our bodies? Let’s talk a little about water, and remind ourselves why it should get some love in our daily lives (too). This is not a post about how you have to eliminate the joy of coffee… promise.
Being the first month of the year, there’s an abundance of health tips and recommendations going around. It can be overwhelming knowing where to start, and what to invest in. So let’s start small, and take one huge step towards better health… not an original thought, but worth repeating…. Drink WATER!
It seems overly simplistic, … and not nearly as tasty and delicious as coffee, but the benefits are more than worth the conscious effort. Small changes allow us to feel incremental shifts that spark the motivation we need to make bigger changes. So, start small… the small changes ARE enough!
• Energy and mood. Dehydration is associated with fatigue, poor memory, and low mood.
• Metabolism. Water is the medium required for all metabolic reactions including digestion (activation of enzymes), absorption (transport into cells), and excretion (through kidneys and the intestines).
• Beauty. Hydrated skin makes you look more youthful. It helps in rejuvenation of collagen, and restores elasticity to your skin. Dehydration on the other hand, will cause skin to age pre-maturely, look dry, leathery, lead to under-eye circles, and wrinkles.
• Prevent headaches. Dehydration is a known trigger for headaches and migraines.
• Regulate bowel function. When your body is dehydrated, it will reabsorb more water from the colon. Less water in the colon → constipation.
• Breathing! The lungs are comprised of tissue that needs to be moist in order to properly absorb oxygen, and excrete carbon dioxide.
• Physical endurance. Dehydration hinders cardiovascular, thermoregulatory, metabolic, and central nervous system function. Water helps lubricate joints, and prevent muscle soreness. Water carries nutrients to muscles for building strength, and carries away lactic acid to decrease DOMS.
• Weight loss. Water may increase metabolic rate, and therefore increase your energy expenditure. It also stops you from misinterpreting thirst signals for hunger.
• Nutrient exchange. Water transports nutrients towards cells in need, and carries wastes & toxins away from tissues for detoxification. Water-soluble vitamins need water for transport into cells. Think vitamin C, and all the amazing Bs!
• Detoxification. The kidneys are one of the main organs of elimination, and they require adequate water to function properly. The kidneys remove waste products (uric acid, urea, lactic acid) that need to be dissolved in water. Without adequate water these wastes can cause kidney damage.
Symptoms of dehydration
• Fatigue and weakness
• Brain fog and low mood
• Dry or flushed skin, mouth, and lips
• Rapid heart beat
• Muscle cramps
Things that can affect our hydration status are:
• Impaired absorption/digestion… food sensitivities, IBS, IBD
• Dehydrating beverages…. coffee, alcohol, and sugary beverages.
• Increased metabolic rate… exercise, heat, and excessive sweating
• Stress… digestion is your bodies last concern in a stressful state!
How much hydration is enough? This depends entirely on your lifestyle! Diet + activity level + climate dictate your need for water. Different people will require different levels of hydration based on their lifestyle, and potential barriers mentioned above. Increased activity level, dry or hot weather, high protein/fiber/salt diet, and insufficient intake of fruits and vegetables will require more fluids to maintain balance.
Our sense of thirst dulls as we age, which means that we become less in tune with our need for hydration. On top of this, as we age, our percentage of water reserves in the body also decrease. Our hydration, and all that it benefits, becomes more vulnerable with age. So drink water, even if you don’t necessary feel thirsty!
Limit your intake to ½ hour before meals, or 1 hour afterwards. Drinking water with meals dilutes your digestive enzymes, and will impair digestion, slow elimination → contribute to the buildup of wastes in the body, and toxicity.
Lastly, is all water created equal? Luckily, here in Vancouver, our water comes from remote mountain reservoirs in the Northshore, located upstream/away from human activities that normally introduce contaminants (pharmaceuticals, pesticides, fertilizers, industrial chemicals). Metro Vancouver is required to provide ‘microbiologically safe’ water to our drinking tap, which is achieved through the use of chlorine, UV light and ozone. So although we are fortunate to have an incredibly clean water source, the processing used to ensure it is free from bacterial or microbial/parasitic infection, causes its own threats to our health. Chlorine and its by-products are known to be harmful, and likely carcinogens. Purchase a quality filter that specifically neutralizes chlorine (our main issue here). Also, something that’s good to know is that not all taps in your home go through the same filtration. Your shower/bath water is meant for external use only, and is more likely to carry bacteria!
• Generally, about 2-3L for females and 3-4L for males per day
• Drink water even if you don’t FEEL thirsty!
• Drink water between your meals, not WITH meals.
• Drink pure filtered water when possible.
• Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake improves hydration status.
If you are interested in other ways to improve your health this year, call The IV Wellness Boutique (604-974-8999) to book a naturopathic visit with Dr. Brett Simpson.