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5 Pillars of Health: Hydration

The only thing that precedes water in terms of how vital it is to our survival is oxygen. The body is made up of two-thirds water, after all. Would you be surprised then if I told you that our earth is also made up of about two-thirds of water? We know that life on earth is largely dependent on water, but what you may not know is that the majority of Americans are chronically dehydrated. 

Nutrition Coach: Cara

DEHYDRATION

Dehydration is when we go without adequate amounts of water for too long. For many people, the standard “8 glasses of water a day” isn’t sufficient because it is offset by consuming caffeinated and alcoholic beverages and eating a diet high in sodium. Dehydration, even mild dehydration, has been shown to put stress on our cognitive functioning, causing a dip in concentration and short-term memory, as well as increased feelings of anxiety, fatigue and headaches.

ESSENTIAL TO THE BODY

Most organ functions require certain amounts of water – meaning your muscles, heart, and kidneys all need water (and the body to be adequately hydrated) in order to work properly. Water is the main component of blood, which supplies cells with oxygen and nutrients and carries waste out of the body. But water also regulates internal body temperature, lubricates joints, and cushions vital organs. 

REMOVING TOXINS

Drinking water flushes toxins from your body, many unknowingly accumulated from things you eat or drink. Though water doesn’t necessarily neutralize toxins, your kidneys need water to get rid of certain wastes. If you don’t drink enough water, your kidneys don’t have the amount of fluid they need to do their job properly. And if the body does not have sufficient water, then metabolic wastes will not be removed as efficiently as they should.

AIDING IN WEIGHT LOSS

Drinking adequate amounts of water can aid in the process of weight loss. Most simply, choosing water over other calorie-laden beverages will cause you to reduce your overall number of calories. But it can also make you feel fuller, so you may eat less at each meal. Water, particularly cold water, may even play a role in increasing your metabolism.

Water is essential to survival, so use these facts to figure out if you need to increase your intake or feel reassured that you’re drinking enough. Proper hydration is a foundational pillar that will also empower your body to maintain the balance of the other four pillars of health – movement, nutrition, sleep and mindfulness.

TIP: Upgrade your water bottle to a bigger size. Transitioning from one that holds 16 oz to one that holds 20 or 24 oz will easily help you increase your consumption by adding an additional few ounces each time you refill your bottle. It is best to have a water bottle made of aluminum, stainless steel or glass. (Plastic water bottles should be used sparingly because they can leach chemicals and cultivate bacteria.)

AIM: Aim for 80 ounces per day, but take physical exertion into account and up that amount based on your activity level and body’s needs.

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