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Simple Body Wellness Tip #1

Autumn jumping and clicking my heels on a beach in Southern California. 

Autumn jumping and clicking my heels on a beach in Southern California. 

Easy step toward better health and overall wellness: 

Drink more water

Offering easy fixes to get you drinking more water with ease.

Simply put, your body uses water for everything.  Everything.  The bulk of our body weight comes from water.  Here are two easy to appreciate reasons to drink water

1)  Your skin is your largest organ.  For vanity sake, if nothing else, well hydrated skin is elastic, radiant, and at it's best.  Dry brittle skin is dull and cracks.  Who wants that?

2)  Your body is one efficient machine.  Still, there are waste byproducts that must exit.  Water helps your kidneys sort it all out.  Wash that stuff out.  Who wants to hang onto toxins?

How much water should we drink?

My simplest measure of hydration is using the color of my urine.  My goal is urine that is barely yellow.  Not convinced?  Here is more. 

The vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide. The report did not specify exact requirements for water, but set general recommendations for women at approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water — from all beverages and foods — each day, and men an average of approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water. The panel did not set an upper level for water.
— http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2004/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-Water-Potassium-Sodium-Chloride-and-Sulfate.aspx

The answer truly varies and is rather individual.  The number hinges on several things including environment.  For example, people who work outdoors in hot climate with a physically exerting job must take in more water than an inactive person sitting at a desk in a temperature controlled building.  Add medical problems and medication, the equation gets more complicated.

Intake of caffeine and alcohol containing beverages tend to act as a diuretic (losing water because you urinate more), therefore, you should drink more water if you drink caffeinated or alcohol containing beverages. 

Barring immediate and severe changes in condition like a sweaty work out, lengthy time in the hot sun, diarrhea, vomiting, pregnancy, breast feeding, or fever- your body is really good at using, conserving, and distributing the water given. 

Easy way to get closer to right

I always feel like I am behind or lose track.  I will give you an easy way to maintain admirable hydration, if you have no past medical history, normal kidney function and taking no daily medications.  Drink ½ a liter (500ml) at each meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Drink another liter (1000ml) throughout the day.  Ladies- fiill up a liter reusable bottle in the morning and drink it by days end.  Gentlemen- drink one in the morning and refill for the afternoon.  Sip here.  Sip there.  With little effort you have drank 2.5 (3.5 for men) liters of water for the day. 

To put this in context- the average store bought bottle of water is 500ml and a can is 330ml.  This starts to get more confusing when ml and fl oz are used.  There are 236.588 milliliters in 8 fl oz- I am going to round this number up to 250 for simple math.   Forgive me, I like simple numbers and simple practice.   Four 8 oz bottles roughly approximate a liter. 

If you have any of the water stressors noted above, you will need to increase your intake.  Your primary care doctor can help you fine tune your water intake needs based on your individual medical needs.

Can I drink too little water?

Absolutely.  It is called dehydration.  Your body will concentrate your urine and hold onto water making your urine darker in color.  On the extreme end, it causes death.

Can I drink too much water?

Water intoxication is real.  If you drink more water than your kidneys can produce urine, you are in life threatening trouble.  Maximum normal kidney excretion rate is 0.7-1.0 L per hour as cited by the National Academies Press.  Normal kidneys are impressive.  Still, it is possible to drink too much water and if you have poor renal/kidney function then smaller amounts of water will put you in trouble.

What if drinking water is not your thing?

A slice of lemon is an easy addition for better tasting water.  Get fancy with cucumbers, mint, or the like.  Juice technically adds to the hydration bank but the amount of sugar that goes along with this is a negative in other wellness columns (later discussion). 

Soft drinks that are sugar free and/or zero calories are an anomaly to me.  While the chemicals do not come with calories- they are still chemicals.  You judge.  Additionally, if this beverage has caffeine, it is not really counting in the hydration category and may take away from your hydration tank. 

Bottled water vs Tap

There is a perceived benefit to bottled water.  It is big industry.  Let’s put aside the cost of manufacturing bottles and the creation of waste to look at the water itself.

The irony is that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water and the gist is that bottled water must meet the United States Environmental Protective Agency (EPA) regulations for tap water.  The EPA notes the following as used in disinfecting water: chlorine and chloramine sited as “effective and inexpensive, and they continue to disinfect as water travels through pipes…”  I can’t lie.  That is rather disturbing.  If it continues to disinfect through the pipes, I imagine it may also disinfect my body’s “pipes”

The EPA reports bottled water companies use alternate ways of disinfecting water that may be easier on the taste buds including ultra violet light, ozone and chlorine dioxide.

My personal preference is to have filtered water at home in a choice reusable containers.  Know the type of filter that you have and what is being filtered out and drink up.  Cheers to better informed hydration!