Dr Nicola Dehlinger, ND

Many people wonder…what is the answer to my health concern?  How can I easily and affordably improve my health?  The answer is simple – drink more water.  It’s been said so many times, we don’t even hear that advice anymore.  But a basic understanding of how your body works might spark new inspiration!

In adults, approximately 60% of the body is made up of water, so for someone who weighs 160lbs, that’s about 40 liters of water!  The lungs are about 83% water, making proper hydration crucial for breathing and respiratory health.  The heart is more than 70% water and relies on water to create more blood volume so the heart can circulate the blood and oxygen with more ease.  Folks who are dehydrated tend to have higher blood pressure to force the lower amount of blood around the body. 

The kidneys and liver are basically sophisticated filters of the body.  If you’ve ever filtered water from a pond, you know that the more sludgy the water, the harder it is on your filter, and the less effective the filter is.  The same is true for our organs of elimination.  When the liver and kidneys don’t have sufficient water to do their jobs, we can’t process toxins or eliminate waste as effectively, allowing compounds to recirculate rather than exit the body. 

Through sweating and respiration, water regulates our internal body temperature.  It forms saliva which contains amylase, an enzyme for digesting carbohydrates and stimulating hydrochloric acid in the stomach so is crucial for triggering optimal digestion.  Not only does it lubricate all of our joints, water also acts as a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord.  It is literally protecting our most vital organs!

Research estimates that about three-quarter of our brain is composed of H2O.  Therefore, hydration status can have a big impact on mental health, even mild dehydration.  Common symptoms of not being “fluid” enough include fatigue, headaches, stress and sleep issues.  In fact, the first clue you’re dehydrated is lack of mental clarity.  This foggy state of being often gets chalked up to needing a “pick-me-up”, so we often reach for caffeine or sugar when we start to drag.  Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it causes the body to lose water, making the dehydration situation worse, causing us to rely on more stimulants…you can see where this will lead!

Your digestive tract is essentially a slip and slide.  If you want things to run smoothly, lubricating the tube with plenty of water is key.  Water forms saliva which contains amylase, an enzyme for digesting carbohydrates and stimulating hydrochloric acid in the stomach so is crucial for triggering optimal digestion.  Proper water intake will also improve how much nutrition you receive from your food.

Getting more water in your system can be easier than you think.  Start by putting one large glass (at least 12oz) on your nightstand and drink the whole thing before your feet hit the ground in the morning.  While you’re waiting for your tea or coffee to brew, have another large glass (bonus points for adding a squeeze of lemon to help alkalinize your system!).  This way you’re starting your day well-hydrated and simply have to maintain this status, rather than play catch up.  If you don’t like plain water, jazz it up by adding mint, lemon/lime, or cucumbers.  Herbal tea and bubbly water count as well!  For ultimate absorption, try adding a tiny pinch of sea salt or electrolyte powder to the water so it more closely matches the salinity of the water inside your body already.  A good rule of thumb to follow is to drink half of your body weight in ounces each day – adding an extra 8oz for any caffeinated or alcoholic beverages. 

Once you are hydrated, you’ll notice at how much more energy you have, your appetite normalizes, food cravings shift, mental capacity brightens, and constipation goes away!  Water is truly is the elixir of life! 

Nicola Dehlinger, ND, graduated from SCNM. Dr. Nicola sees clients from around the world in her naturopathic medical practice, Pura Vida Natural Healthcare, in Durango, CO. She is an expert in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and insomnia. She is able to minimize supplements and medications as her patients become empowered to heal themselves. In addition to seeing clients, Dr. Nicola leads group and private retreats. She teaches a variety of online and in-person classes. In her free time, you can find Dr. Nicola in the mountains or the kitchen, enjoying time with her husband, son, and dogs. Website: www.puravidahealthcare.com

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