As a Nutritional Therapist, I spend a great deal of time thinking about and learning about nutrients. It all fascinates me. Going through school, one of the most shocking things I learned was that water is a nutrient. We think about Vitamin C or Protein (for example) as being nutrients, but we rarely think about water. Water is a very important nutrient indeed. It is necessary for life, and very necessary for good health. So, why is water the number one nutrient deficiency in the United States?
When I lived in Peru, I couldn’t drink the water without boiling it first. But, we, here in the US, have the luxury of being able to turn on the tap and have bacteria-free water come flowing out.
Easy as that! Why, then, do most of us walk around in a state of dehydration?
The answer is choices. We have a ton of other choices (soda, juice, coffee, tea, sports drinks, etc.) that get marketed to us relentlessly every day. Water is free, but somehow we spend thousands of dollars on drinks every year!
The other problem with the drinks mentioned above is that they are diuretics. They make the body flush out water. So, not only are we not drinking enough water, we are flushing out the little we do drink leaving us at a deficit and severely dehydrated. The common health concerns that we visit the doctor for, (headaches, migraines, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, muscle aches, joint pain, IBS, Crohn’s, etc.) are all signs of dehydration. So, next time you have a headache, try drinking a glass of water.
It is my goal to drink my optimal amount of water every day — a goal I have been working up to since summer. It is important to me for two reasons:
- I want to be at my best possible health, and,
- I want to increase the duration and distance of my runs. Being properly hydrated helps our bodies function at the cellular level. It lubricates our joints, helps with blood viscosity, and carries nutrients around the body. Being hydrated will also help us perform better as athletes reducing pain and injury, helping endurance, and allowing airways to be moistened for easier breathing.
Each of us has an optimal amount of water we should be drinking everyday. Do you know what yours is? Here is an easy calculation to help you figure that out:
Take your body weight and divide it by 2. Figure out the amount (in ounces) of diuretic drinks you drink a day and multiply that by 1.5. Add these two figures together, and you have the optimal amount. Take into account any vigorous exercise you do, and drink more water on those days. Here are a few tips to help you optimize your hydration.
- Make sure your water is filtered. Our water in the US is treated with chemicals that you do not want to drink. Make sure you get a filter that filters out chemicals, like a reverse osmosis filtration system.
- Use a glass bottle for your water, and bring it with you, so you remember to sip out of it all day. Plastic bottles have chemicals that can negatively affect your health.
- Add a pinch of sea salt (Himalayan Pink or Celtic) to your glass of water. These have all of the minerals necessary (like electrolytes) to allow the body to utilize the water. You can also add a good quality electrolyte solution.
- Some slices of organic lemon or lemon juice will add electrolytes, as well as the added benefit of stimulating digestive juices.
- Upon waking, drink two 10oz glasses of water with sea salt and lemon. This will help the body eliminate toxins from detox occurring during sleep, and it will help to stimulate digestive juices for breakfast.
Wish me luck in my goal to increase my water this year or, better yet, join me! Stay tuned for future articles, I will share a healthy, nutrient dense recipe that you can use to squelch those carb cravings.