Don’t Overlook Hydration as Key to Good Health
Dr. Melanie Brown
(Republished from the Mountain Times Newspaper, Welches, Oregon)
As we settle into winter, many of us find it much more appealing to stay under the covers in the cold mornings as we start to feel those aches and pains and mental sluggishness. One thing we often forget to ease this transition—and improve our overall health—is hydration.
We often think of thirst as our first indicator of dehydration. However, chronic dehydration is a constant problem, especially as we grow older—the National Center for Biotechnology Information published an article that explained how 1 in 4 older adults suffer from dehydration.
The elderly start to lose their thirst sensation and may drink less than in their younger years, decreasing strength and memory function. In addition, kids depend on their parents to make sure they consistently drink enough water to feel their best and function well in life and school.
The benefits of drinking water are aplenty
For you aquaphiles out there, good for you! However, for the many people who don’t inherently crave water, it is more important to strategize your daily consumption. I’m not sure if it’s the salty well water I grew up drinking or the fact that I’m “too busy” to pee all the time, but I have never enjoyed drinking water regularly. Still, being health-conscious means that I try to focus on the “whys” to keep me motivated.
For starters, we can change the adage to say, “An ounce of water is worth a pound of pills.” You can decrease your risk factors for disease by staying hydrated. Water is a cleansing agent that helps the kidneys to eliminate toxins from the body via the bladder. In addition, water helps with constipation. “The solution to pollution is dilution.” You should not have a book in the bathroom (unless you are hiding from your kids).
And if you eat every day, you should poop every day! Water helps the fiber clean the intestines like a broom. My great-grandpa lived to be 100 years old, and I believe it was because he drank adequate water and ate oatmeal every morning, cleansing his body regularly of disease-causing toxins.
In a study with 20,000 participants, consuming only five glasses of water per day decreased the risk of cardiovascular disease by 46 percent in men and 59 percent in women. A significant reduction in breast and bladder cancers was also shown. Another study published in the World Journal of Psychiatry showed a correlation between drinking sufficient water daily and reduced incidence of depression and anxiety.
Hydration also prevents headaches and can improve mood and energy. Finally, water is a natural Botox alternative. You will turn from a raisin into a grape with smoother, more glowing skin!
How to put a hydration plan into action
First, when people offer you water, always say YES! Fill your bottles in the morning or have a favorite water bottle that you fill a few times per day. Drink a little a lot; don’t flood your body all at once. I set my timer to squawk at me every hour from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to help me get a jump-start on changing my habit. My kids enjoyed hearing the alarm and bringing me my water.
In addition, start the day with a glass of warm lemon water. Not only will you be hydrating, but you will be supporting your liver and digestive systems, too!
Know what the water in your hydration plan contains
You can’t talk about hydration without discussing water quality, so let’s dive into that for a minute. So, the H2O has arrived at your sink, but what came with it? It is essential to know your water, because not all water is the same. Depending on where you draw your water supply, it could contain prescription drugs, radon, arsenic, aluminum, mercury, asbestos, coliform bacteria, nitrates/nitrites, lead, or other contaminants.
HOLD ON! We wanted to hydrate to detoxify here, not to increase our toxic exposure! With the state of our world and, subsequently, our environment, we must try our best not to contaminate our bodies as we hydrate them!
Most of our water comes from lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and groundwater. If you have city water, water then flows from intake points to a treatment plant, a storage tank, and finally to our houses through various pipe systems. Water reports are available to the public for your review.
If you get your water from a private well, there is no “treatment plant”—you handle maintenance, testing, and operation. Wells should be checked and tested annually for mechanical problems, cleanliness, and the presence of contaminants. Whole house filters need to be changed regularly.
Steps to take to purify your water
There are many ways to purify water beyond efforts made by the city or you working on your well. The most common are fridge filters, for which you can upgrade your cartridge. There are pitcher-style purifiers, reverse osmosis filtration systems for under your sink, and various other methods. Find what works best for you to get closer to pure H2O.
If you have perfected your home filtration system, take water on the go instead of investing in expensive bottled water. Most bottled water comes in bottles made of plastic #1, deemed the safest by the FDA. Still, some contain #7, which may contain BPA, the most dangerous form of plastic that many countries have banned.
Reusable water bottles can also be made of these plastics, so check the codes stamped on the bottom. Some metal water bottles have BPA lining, so be diligent. My favorite water bottle is my glass bottle with a felt cover and a carrying clip. It works great for me since my hands are always full—and there is no plastic or metal aftertaste!
The hydration challenge comes with a reward. Whether you drink half your body’s weight in ounces, or eight glasses per day, just get it in there! You will feel more energized, and you will receive endless health benefits. It’s simple, it’s free, and your body will thank you!