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All Things Hydration

Hydration is more than just being thirsty – although thirst is a clear indicator of dehydration. Ensuring that your body has ample fluids can help with digestion, immunity, detoxification, and overall wellness.

In this article we’ll discuss some key reasons you need to make sure that you are properly hydrated daily, and share some tips to help you find the best way to stay hydrated for your lifestyle. But, first, we need to start with water.

Choosing Better Water

Wait, isn’t water just… water?! Yes and no. Most municipal water treatment centers use chlorine to purify the water, and there is more research showing that pharmaceuticals are also leaking into our drinking water supply. To add to that, many cities and states choose to fluoridate the water.

Unless you drink local spring water or are on a well, it’s best to filter the water coming from the tap. You can fill up jugs at local health food stores and use those for drinking water, or use an in-home system. The gold standard is a Berkey filter, which sits atop the counter. Another fairly affordable option is a reverse osmosis system that can be installed under the kitchen sink.  

Stripped Water

Some people say that water is boring, or that they don’t like to drink plain water, or they have a hard time remembering to drink water. With filtered water being stripped of both toxins AND minerals (you can’t just leave the minerals, unfortunately), this complaint makes sense as our bodies don't really enjoy drinking stripped water. Some even experience dehydration symptoms when drinking lots of plain water, causing them to go to the bathroom frequently but still feeling thirsty.  This is their body requesting more holistic water. This is why its important to add in components that remineralize and deepen the complexity of the water again. Water in nature (think spring water) has lots of minerals. This is the type of water our bodies evolved to drink. So drinking stripped water is quite foreign to us. Read on to see options for remineralizing your water.

And when you drink your water, it’s best to drink at room temperature. Sip water throughout the day, don’t chug it all at once.

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What are some Symptoms of Dehydration?

Your body gets dehydrated before actually feeling thirsty, and if you are chronically dehydrated, you might not even notice the thirst. Some of the deeper symptoms of dehydration include bad breath, cracked tongue, crust in eyes and sheet marks on skin upon waking, dark urine, pain when urinating, constipation, dry mouth and throat, dry skin, mental or physical fatigue, UTI’s, dizziness, headache and sometimes even overall increased pain or stiffness in the body.

None of these are the end of the world on their own, but they are indicative of more serious issues happening below the surface. Dark urine means your kidneys are not flushing quickly enough, and this can lead to kidney issues, like stones, and can also affect the bladder, leading to urinary tract infections.

Dehydration can also lead to constipation: water helps lubricate the digestive process and ensure that the solid waste moves through your system swiftly. Eating a high fiber diet is key, but making sure you have enough liquid to keep things moving is equally important.

Dry mouth is uncomfortable and also allows tooth decay to run rampant. Saliva helps to balance the flora in the mouth (it has antiseptic properties) so having a deficit of saliva can really throw your mouth flora off track, leading to other issues. A cracked or “geographic” tongue is usually an indication of chronic dehydration over many years.

It's hard to convey that essentially ALL bodily systems rely on adequate water. This is a non-negotiable as a human. Does this mean just choke down plain water all day? No. Read on to find tips to make water and foods more hydrating for you for a more enjoyable approach to systemic hydration.

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How Can you better Hydrate your body?

The recommended amount of liquids a day is 50% of your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should drink about 70 ounces of water each day. But if you consume any diuretic drinks like alcohol or 4 or more cups of coffee, or soda, you should add more. But don't discount hydrating foods as part of this. Soups, stews, broths, smoothies, sauces, herbal teas, fresh fruit and veggies are all deeply hydrating. Focus on increasing the overall amount of fluids in your day in both liquid and food form. 

Make Your Water Interesting! 

It’s easy to make your water better! Some tips for making your hydrating fluids more interesting and nourishing include:

  • Make ‘Spa Water:’ Add fresh herbs (mint, basil, cilantro), fresh fruit, and/or vegetables to your water to add some flavor. Let sit overnight in the fridge for maximum flavor, and let come to room temperature before drinking. Options include fresh lime, lemon or orange , frozen cucumber slices, fresh or frozen berries, frozen starfruit and kiwi. Citrus can sometimes be astringent (drying) on its own, so pairing with some sea salt or other herbs is nice.

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  • Eat hydrating foods. Vegetables, both cooked and fresh, can contain lots of water. So can fruit. This water inside plants is different from tap water in that it is considered “structured water.” Some health experts believe this structured water is even more bioavailable to our bodies than tap water, meaning we would need less structured water to rehydrate than tap water. Choosing wet foods such as fruits and vegetables, sauces, soups and stews, over dry processed foods such as chips, cookies, pasta, and bread can have a great impact on your overall hydration level. So next time you reach for a snack, consider some raw veggies with dip, veggie rich smoothies or fresh fruit.
     
  • Make Herbal Teas (Hot Method): Use 1 tablespoon of dry herb per cup of water unless otherwise directed, and cover with freshly boiled water to extract the most constituents from your plant. Pour on boiling water, stir briefly then cover the infusion for at least 15 minutes; strain off plant parts. Let cool and sip all day. Put any remaining tea in the fridge or a thermos and consume before the end of the day. Herbal tea (both hot and cold brew method) is an easy way to get healing minerals, volatile oils and other constituents at the same time you are hydrating. Many health gurus drink almost solely herbal tea as their water intake. You can experiment with substituting herbal tea (hot or chilled) for water throughout the day and see if you feel good.
  • Make Herbal Tea (cold brew method): Most leaf or flower herbs, especially chamomile, can be enjoyed cold brewed. Marshmallow root is also great cold brewed. Combine 1 tablespoon with 1 cup of room temperature water. Steep for at least 15 mins up to overnight. Strain off herbs, and enjoy throughout the day. You can also start an overnight infusion right before bed. Steep in a jar or a plastic-free French Press on the counter until morning with the plunger in the up position. In the morning, press or strain and enjoy. You can place herbs in a tea ball in your water bottle and refill throughout the day to maximize herbs. 

  • Apple Cider Vinegar: ACV makes a surprisingly refreshing drink. Choose the organic, naturally fermented brands, like Bragg’s, which is full of enzymes and probiotics. Add just a teaspoon to 8-10 ounces of water, and add a touch of honey if it tastes too strong.

  • Make Homemade Energy Drinks: Commercial hydration drinks (like Gatorade) are full of sugar, preservatives, artificial flavors and artificial coloring, so make your own by adding a pinch of Himalayan salt (warming) or French grey sea salt (cooling and moistening); do not use iodized or regular table salt. Sea salt adds minerals and sodium back into your water. You can combine this method with adding fruit or herbal teas above. Before adding, squeeze the peel to release the volatile oils. Drop the whole wedge in your water.

  • Drink Vegetable or Bone Broth: warmed in a mug with a little salt. Delicious, nutritious and hydrating! This is a great alternative or compliment to coffee or tea in the morning. 

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Hydrating On The Go

To ensure you are hydrated, you first need to make sure you drink enough hydrating fluids in the mornings (sometimes called front loading your fluids for the day). The second way to stay hydrated is to have fluids with you once you leave the house. Invest in a quality travel bottle: glass is great, and so is stainless steel. Use it daily. For stainless steel, I recommend these affordable options in both 17oz and 34oz.

And it also important to mention the importance of avoiding plastic water bottles: not only are single-use plastic water bottles an ecological disaster, they are really costly. Research shows that a lot of the water in plastic bottles is from municipal sources and is full of chemicals and bacteria because of low testing standards. If these bottles have been transported in hot trucks or stored in hot warehouses or hot cars, it is likely they have leached hormone disrupting chemicals into the water as well. Overall, it's not a good choice for hydration and health.

Image credits: mint water image by Francesca Hotchinwatermelon image Neha Deshmukh; spa water Photo by Monika Grabkowska; and rose herbal tea Photo by Marco Secchi on Unsplash

Blair Townley