Happily Hydrated

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We all know that we should drink water during the day and that water is good for us…but do we really know the vast benefits to drinking water and staying hydrated?

Our bodies are made up of about 70% water.  Every organ, tissue and cell in our body is dependent on water to function properly.  If we do not drink enough water we compromise the functions in our body and our cells and organs cannot do what they need to do properly to keep us healthy.

Water keeps our muscles, bones, tissues and organs functioning properly. Our body pulls water into the organ or tissue and flushes toxins out.  An easier way to understand this is to think of what we do when we need to rinse down a sink; we need water to move things away and down the drain.

Our body functions in exactly glass of waterthe same way, we need to take in water, which goes in through our digestive system and is then distributed through our blood to every part of our body.  This carries with it the good nutrients that we need and delivers them where they are beneficial and then carries away the toxins that result from our body processes.  If our blood is low on water, it makes that distribution and elimination very inefficient.

Our digestive tract is also dependent on water in the same way.  The water we drink mixes with the food in our digestive tract and works with the fibers in our foods to move those toxins out of our body.  When we are constipated, we are allowing the toxins and byproducts of our body processes to sit in our digestive tract.  Our body is designed to eliminate certain things, and plenty of water, along with a high-fiber, plant-based diet will do just that.

So how much water is enough?  Well the rule of thumb is that whatever we weigh in pounds, we should take that number and divide it in half.  This number is the ounces of water we need daily at a minimum:

For example: 140 pounds / 2 = 70 oz. of water; 70 oz. / 8 oz. = 8.75 glasses per day (8 oz. glasses)

Having a plan for consuming our necessary ounces of water will help us get what we need.  Keeping a refillable container with us, and knowing how many of those we need to drink in a day to meet our ounce requirements will simplify the calculation. When we are participating in activities such as swimming, tennis, walking running or golf, we will need to increase our hydration requirement to replenish whatever we lose to sweating.  Sports drinks should be reserved for use only when we have a very strenuous output of energy and sweat that would require some electrolytes. Otherwise, for most of us, plain water is the best along with a healthy snack after our activity to replenish nutrients and electrolytes.

Our water should be purified to remove toxins that are either found in our water, or added to our water when it is purified at the source.  Chlorine is added to our water to kill bacteria, but it is not good for drinking.  Fluoride has also been added for years to drinking water based on the thoughts that it would help reduce cavities in teeth.  What fluoride actually does is throw off the balance of other nutrients that are essential to our health, especially iodine.

Reverse Osmosis is the best way to purify our water for drinking and removing impurities and additives, but it should be remineralized to keep the pH more alkaline as RO tends to make water more acidic.  We have a Culligan RO system in our home and enjoy purified water right from a tap at our kitchen sink.

Lemon in our water actually helps alkalize our body and helps keep our digestive system moving.  I start my day with a large glass of water with fresh organic lemon squeezed in. The rest of the day, plain water is fine… if you have the opportunity to add lemon… great!

Stay hydrated, everyone!

Go With Your Gut

Seventy percent of our immune system originates in our gut…

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The New Year is always a time when we evaluate, assess and determine if there are any changes we should make.  We often vow to be healthier, but we may be overlooking the biggest factor in our immune system, our gut. Over 70% of our immune system originates in our gut and therefore, if our gut is not healthy, we won’t be healthy.  We often overlook digestive issues year after year because we think there is no easy fix.  Do we consider heart burn, reflux, or intestinal distress problems as just a part of life?  That is only true when it is occasional. When these issues recur over and over, or are even part of our daily life, this is not normal.  There are medications we can take, both over the counter and prescription, but these usually just treat symptoms, and often don’t address the underlying cause of the issue.

Food intolerances are the biggest cause of intestinal distress and we may not even realize it. Gluten and dairy are the most common offenders, but each of us is different and things such as sugar, other grains and soy can trigger discomfort or worse.  When we eat foods that we don’t tolerate, it causes inflammation in the lining of the gut.  This makes our immune system compromised and causes both our intestines and our body to react.  The inflammation can then be carried over into other areas including illness, eczema and arthritis.

Perhaps the best way to begin to address this issue is by keeping a food log so that when we experience an issue we can determine if there is a pattern of offenders.  Simply write down everything eaten at each meal for a week or two, also making note of any incidents of indigestion, heartburn, reflux, or intestinal distress.  See if there is a pattern of foods or situations that seem to result in an issue. If we already know certain food offenders, make this the year to make a change and repair the damage in our intestines and immune system.

Try eliminating foods that may have shown up in a pattern in our log, or remove the most common offenders for 2 weeks and then try adding back only one at a time to test a food, eat a very small portion such as a couple bites 2-3 times during that day and allow 24-48 hours to see if there is any reaction. The symptoms can be bloating, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, headache, rash, or even other things. Write down any reaction. Eliminate the food again for 3-5 days and then test it one more time. If a reaction occurs again, it is most likely that you are intolerant to that food.  This doesn’t always mean that we can never eat that food again.  After eliminating it for a longer period of time, and working to heal our gut, an occasional meal including the food(s) may be fine.

While food intolerances may not be causing digestive problems for some of us, there are other key elements that all of us can follow to keep our gut healthy.  These are explored further in other posts

  1. Drink plenty of water.
  2. Eat plenty of fruits and veggies.
  3. Avoid excessive alcohol or caffeine.
  4. Eat probiotics.
  5. Eat prebiotics.
  6. Exercise regularly.
  7. Eat the right types and amount of protein.
  8. Be creative and adventurous with meals and meal planning.

So go with your gut, listen to what it is telling you, and you will be healthier going forward. Happy New Year!