Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Healthy Habit: Drink Water

(c) 2009, Kathy Fannon

by Guest Blogger: Julie Stiles

Julie is one of my friends and an Integrative Nutrition classmate. I love this article she wrote for her newsletter and wanted to share it with you. Please visit her blog, Transformation Over Tapas, and her website. She's working on getting them up and running so be sure to check back for all the fun things you'll learn from her! (Note: links within her article were added by me.)

One of my clients told me recently that she struggles to drink water, in part because she doesn’t like the taste. This reminded me of a time much earlier in my life when I was the same way. I was accustomed to other drinks and just plain water tasted, well, just plain. Who wants to drink that?

Still, I knew that drinking water was good for me, and so I started drinking water. Fast forward to now, when it’s almost all I drink. Instead of “just plain” water, I find it refreshing, filling a need that no other drink can. Whether I’m drinking from my stainless steel water bottle when I’m out and about, sipping hot water all morning as I work (it’s an Ayurvedic thing), or downing a glass after a workout, it has become a healthy habit I cannot do without.

Many people do not drink enough water, and the health implications of dehydration are much broader than we might expect. Since water makes up such a large part of our body, however, it makes sense that making sure we get enough of it can have profound implications for our health. Not drinking enough may lead to cravings, digestive problems, headaches, itchy and breakout-prone skin, fatigue, and even sluggish thinking. So how can you make sure that you are getting enough?

Assess your current water intake

How much water are you drinking now? Recommendations are generally around 1/2 body weight in ounces per day, which might need to be adjusted based on your climate, physical health, and activity level. What other liquids do you drink that you could replace with water for a healthier choice?

Start your day…

…with a tall glass of water. This will help hydrate you after a long night of not drinking; it flushes toxins from your body and prepares your system for the day.

Carry a water bottle

Make sure you have water with you at all times. Fill your bottle with filtered water so you don’t have to buy bottled water. Make sure you have enough for your day, taking into account activities such as workouts or spending time in the sun.

Create reminders to take a sip

I have carried a bottle with me all day and never remembered to actually drink from it until I was already dehydrated. You might drink on the hour and half hour, or use some cue, such as a phone ringing, to remind you. Try to drink consistently; it’s better to sip a little many times than drink a lot at once.

Not too late

Focus on drinking more in the morning into mid-afternoon. If you forget during the day and then realize that you are dehydrated in the late afternoon and evening and drink a lot then, you risk disturbing your sleep by needing to get up to use the bathroom.

Sip plain hot water

This Ayurvedic recommendation not only hydrates but helps stimulate the lymphatic system, which removes waste from the body. As Ayurvedic physician Dr. John Douillard says, “Water and only water can adequately rehydrate the body. The best lymph moving rehydration technique is to sip hot water every 10-15 minutes throughout the day.” When you drink anything else, even hot water with lemon, it has to go through digestion first, by sipping warm water your body utilizes the water more directly, going straight to your cells. If you don’t like the taste, try it anyway for a morning, sipping regularly, and see what happens. It took me all of a couple of hours before I was completely hooked.

What steps will you take this week to increase your water intake?