Pour Me Another…

Water, that is!

by April Jones

Water was designed by its very essence to comfort, cleanse and nourish. It is powerful, essential and often highly undervalued as a part of our diets. With the ability to hydrate, rejuvenate and promote healing, water is not only a sustainer of life, but a provider. It is no coincidence that our bodies are made of 60 to 95 percent water by weight (this includes body mass, cellular composition and other physiological factors and varies amongst individuals), that 70 percent of the Earth is covered by water, and that consuming 2.4 liters of it daily has been shown to improve performance, transport waste and maintain proper hydration for optimal brain and bodily functions.

The earth craves the purity of a fresh drink from heaven. When the skies open, all of life receives a shower and soak. The earth is cleansed, the ground draws up the nutrients, mountains send it forth, and so goes an endless push of abundance and refreshment. Our body’s needs are not much different from that of the earth. We require hydration from pure sources to fuel our delicate systems. It comes as no surprise the heavens do not pour down diet or energy drinks, tea or coffee.

“Now,” you may say, “April, I drink de-caffeinated, diet beverages and sports drinks. There is no sugar in my drink, fewer calories, less caffeine and added minerals and vitamins. They all contain water!” OK, let me be a voice of truth. You have been lied to. “Sugar free” is not as harmless as you believe. There have been a great amount of studies run on the effects of various artificial sweeteners, and guess what? The results aren’t positive. You would be better off consuming the real sugar (in small doses, of course) or eliminating it entirely than you would be to fool yourself in thinking you are making the “healthy choice.”

So let’s break a few of these things down, shall we?  We all know our bodies need hydration. As the temperature rises, our bodies begin to require even more water to stay hydrated. Again, you may consider this a given, but I have found very few adults actually consume water throughout their day. We have been led to believe that sports drinks, flavored waters, energy drinks, sodas and  even beer have a sufficient amount of water to supply our needs and satisfy our thirst. But every additional chemical that is added to your water is one that your body must assimilate. I am not saying there is no value to adding electrolytes and minerals to your diet. Our bodies have been shown to function at an optimal rate when such chemicals are present in our system.  But sugary beverages bring on additional thirst, while pure water brings instant hydration. Your body is not confused about what to do with it. It begins to immediately absorb and distribute the water to feed your body and eliminate the unused and unnecessary waste items found, not only in your gut, but in your other organs and even the blood.

Many people drink only when they have moved past the point of dehydration. When you begin to thirst, your body has already moved to that state. It has depleted the reservoirs necessary to satisfy the need and sends the signal that you’re parched. Your body will even send the signal of hunger, for it is incapable of discerning the difference between the two sensations.

One great way to ensure you don’t dehydrate is to begin hydrating in advance. If you know you are going to spend the day in intense activity, whether indoors or out, begin to hydrate at least two to three hours in advance. If you really want to do it right, begin hydrating the day before.

According to Danielle Ratliff-Fryer, RD/CFT, the average sedentary body requires half its body weight in ounces of water daily to properly hydrate. This amount only increases with activity and exercise. Read it again, peeps, half your body weight. Can you honestly say you regularly provide that to yourself?

As the temperatures and your activity level increase this summer, consider your body’s needs when you reach for a drink. There is absolutely nothing wrong with consuming a variety of beverages (believe it or not, even I will reach for the occasional soda), so long as you get the water you need  to function properly. You may begin to find your body runs a little longer and feels a little stronger. You may also find your body begins to look and feel a little better. You may even notice some weight loss. And best of all, you might even begin to develop a taste for the stuff. Bottoms up!

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