This article was published in The Times Herald Record as my Holistic Outlook column.
Feeling sluggish and tired? Rethink your fluid intake.
Hydration is essential to the functioning of every cell, organ and system in your body, but it’s not just about how much you guzzle.
Healthy babies are almost 75% water. That declines over the course of our lives. Ideal hydration for women is about 50% and for men 60%. Men, having less fat, need more water to stay hydrated.
Measuring hydration is always part of my initial consultation, and I see very few people with healthy, optimal levels. Most people test around 40-46% and it is not uncommon to see women in the 30 percentile range.
This alarms me, because even one point can effect your health: your metabolism, your ability to concentrate, and your energy level, just to name a few.
Some people know they don’t drinking enough, but others protest “I drink water all day long!” But if what you drink runs right through you, you are not getting the benefit, and are not, in fact, being hydrated.
Here are the three elements I consider:
- Input. Drink approximately half your weight in ounces of water each day. Coffee, tea (unless herbal), alcohol and soda don’t count!
- Quality. Tap water isn’t always healthy, and I usually recommend a filter. An inexpensive charcoal filter (such as a Brita) often works well, or there are more comprehensive systems, such as Reverse Osmosis, that can be installed under the sink or for the whole home for a few hundred dollars. With RO, you’ll need to add electrolytes back in, as it takes out everything.
- Uptake. As with nutrients, we can become less capable of absorbing and utilizing water. You’ve probably heard of “insulin resistance” as a diabetes marker. We can become “resistant” to other hormones and nutrients as well. f you can’t increase hydration by increasing water intake, it can indicate impaired resistance in general.
Don’t increase your water by downing quarts at a time! Our kidneys have a remarkable ability to adjust output, but too much at once can actually dehydrate you, as it will take a lot of electrolytes with it. Instead, sip regularly in-between meals. (Drinking too much during meals dilutes your digestive enzymes, another no-no.)
For heart health, it is important to maintain hydration at night, when we normally lose some, and to rehydrate again first thing in the morning. Bladder wake you up? That may be more a sleep issue. If you’re getting deep, sound sleep, it’s normal to simply wake in the morning with a full bladder.
Drink up! And let me know if you feel better!