Hello! I hope you’ve had a great start to the New Year! 🙂
I know it’s been a while since my last post – but let’s pick up from where we left off and jump right into one very important stress management technique:
Stress Reduction Strategy #1 – DRINK WATER
You’ve probably heard this a million times already but yes, drinking enough water each day IS important! But wait! Before you roll your eyes at me (or, rather, at your computer/phone screen) and exit this page, please stay with me and read on…
I know you think you’ve heard it all before… “Remember to drink 8 glasses of water every day blah blah blah…” but did you know that even if you are one of the few who actually drinks enough water each day, that your body may not be absorbing and utilizing all that water you’re drinking?! This condition (known as malabsorption) may be one reason why many people think that drinking water doesn’t do a whole lot for them… But before we address that, let’s talk about what drinking water has to do with stress…
WATER & STRESS
According to WebMD/Trent Nessler (PT, DPT, MPT, managing director of Baptist Sports Medicine in Nashville):
“Stress can cause dehydration, and dehydration can cause stress. It’s a vicious cycle. You can break it by building more water consumption into your day. Stress can result in many of the same responses as dehydration – increased heart rate, nausea, fatigue, headache – so if you can remain hydrated you can reduce the magnitude of the physiological responses we have to stress.”
So yes, being adequately hydrated is a big part of reducing stress. While it doesn’t stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system directly, drinking enough water is an essential component to enabling our bodies (especially our brain/nervous system) to heal and function optimally. Because we are electrical/energetic beings, our bodies need water for our cells/neurons to communicate with one another so that our brains can think, our muscles can move, our eyes can see… you get the picture. 🙂 Water provides a medium in which biochemical reactions occur (such as metabolism, digesting food, producing energy, fighting infections, and building tissue) – so it makes sense that we need water to help make everything run properly.
WATER & THE HUMAN BODY
Here are a few facts about water and the human body:
• At least 75% of North Americans don’t drink enough water (WebMD)
• The body of a middle-aged man or woman is made up of approximately 65% water (muscles contain ~75%, blood ~80%). (The percentage for children is a bit higher; the percentage for an elderly man is a bit lower.) (Smirnov et al)
• Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired. (Mayo Clinic)
• Reducing the amount of water in a human body by only 10% (in relation to normal) would result in death!! (Smirnov et al)
• Drinking enough water can prevent and treat conditions like: depression, fatigue/low energy, ADD/ADHD, digestive problems (including constipation, stomach ulcers)
• Drinking enough water boosts weight loss, flushes toxins, carries nutrients to cells, carries oxygen to cells, provides a moist environment for ear/nose/ throat, lubricates joints, aids in digestion, regulating external and internal body temperature, helps carry waste products out of your body
• Drinking enough water can help with sleep disorders by increasing neurotransmitters/hormones like serotonin – the precursor of melatonin (which is essential for sleep and healing)
• Mild dehydration can increase cortisol levels (WebMD)
So the next time you’re feeling stressed and tired – don’t drink that extra cup of coffee (which dehydrates you further) – drink water! 🙂
SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION
Signs of (mild to moderate) dehydration include: (See illustration below for additional signs.)
- Thirst, dry mouth (Note: If you’re thirsty – you’re already dehydrated!! (WebMD))
- The darker the colour of your urine and the stronger the smell – the more dehydrated you are (WebMD)
- (There’s also the skin turgor test or the ‘dehydration pinch’ test – but note that this test only works with moderate to severe dehydration.)
- Headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue
- Dry skin, dry eyes
- Getting sick more frequently/staying sick longer
- Muscle cramps
- Bad Breath
- Cravings for sweets
- Mood changes, irritability
- Confusion, anxiety
- Joint and body aches
- Premature aging
- Urinary Tract Infections
HOW MUCH WATER DO WE NEED TO DRINK EACH DAY?
RULE OF THUMB: Drink AT LEAST half your weight in ounces of water per day.
So for example, if you weigh 150 lbs, drink at least 75 ounces of water per day – which is roughly 9+ cups. You may need to drink more (or less) based on your diet, activity level, and weather/environment. The more active you are and the warmer the weather is, the more you will need to drink. You also need to increase your amount of water consumption if you drink caffeinated beverages (since caffeine acts as a diuretic which can dehydrate you further). You may need to drink less water if you eat lots of ‘water-abundant’ vegetables/fruits and and drink other ‘healthy’ fluids like broths, kombucha, etc… But remember that you STILL need to drink water… plain ol’ water… 🙂
Here are some tips for increasing water intake:
If you’re not used to drinking a lot – you may experience a significant increase in how often you urinate when you start drinking more. Don’t let this discourage you or prevent you from drinking more water! I’ve heard so many people say things like – “I don’t like drinking so much water because it makes me have to go pee so often!” It will take time for your body to make adjustments. Of course you will still need to urinate more often overall… but not crazy often! Lol! No different than when parched, cracked soil after a long, hot summer receives its first heavy rainfall, the soil is so dry that it cannot absorb the water right away. It needs time to soften and re-hydrate before it can draw in and make use of all the water. In the same way, the cells in your body need time to adjust. Be patient. 🙂
Here’s some homework for you! Try increasing your water intake over the next several days and see if you notice a difference with energy and stress levels. Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, tea, cola or other caffeinated drinks during a low energy day, have an extra glass or 2 of water instead… Sip it throughout the day and see if you notice any changes.
As mentioned earlier – try drinking room temperature water as opposed to iced water all the time. I know – even just the thought of drinking room temperature water grossed me out prior to age 40… but give it a shot anyways! 😉 Drinking room temperature water is more conducive to the body’s natural processes.
IF you do start drinking enough water every day for several days (remember – caffeinated drinks don’t count and they dehydrate you further!) and it doesn’t seem to be making much of a difference or if you’re experiencing bloating and heaviness in your stomach from drinking water, it is possible that you may not be drinking the right type of water AND/OR you may have issues with malabsorption – where your body is not absorbing and utilizing the water that you ingest. The inability to absorb water and other nutrients involves gut health as well other factors like body pH, etc… I will discuss malabsorption and talk about the best types of water to drink in my next post…
In the meantime – Bottoms Up! 😀
For questions, comments, or topic requests – please e-mail me at email@example.com. 🙂
Water & Stress Reduction: Sipping Stress Away http://www.webmd.com/diet/water-stress-reduction
Why Your Body Needs Water http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/why-your-body-needs-water.html
Water: How Much Should You Drink Every day? http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256
Introduction to the Biophysics of Activated Water – Igor V. Smirnov, Vladimir I. Vysotskii, Alla A. Kornilova http://www.bookpump.com/upb/pdf-b/1124783b.pdf
Why Your Body Needs Water http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/why-your-body-needs-water.html
Here’s What Dehydration Does to Your Body (and What to do About it) https://www.fix.com/blog/dehydration/
6 Unusual Signs of Dehydration http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/unusual-signs-of-dehydration/
4 Reasons You Should Drink Enough Water – Dr. Joshua Axe http://draxe.com/4-reasons-you-should-drink-enough-water/
How Do You Know if You’re Drinking Enough Water? – Dr. Joseph Mercola http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/12/15/drinking-enough-water.aspx
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