I harp on this often because it is EXTREMELY important. Most humans live in a constant state of dehydration. We go into full camel mode, for real. Researchers have found that as little as 1% dehydration negatively impacts your mood, memory, and motor coordination. When you lose water in your body and you do not replace it with more water, bad things happens inside your body. Your kidneys start to cling onto water, which means that you are urinating less frequently. You want to know what your kidneys do? They filter your blood every single minute (literally, a half cup of blood per minute) and remove waste and extra water that makes you urinate. You need your kidneys to take out your body’s trash (e.g., toxins). When your kidneys cannot function because you are dehydrated your body has no way of taking out the trash. Get out of your kidney’s way and let them do their job!
Because our bodies operate as a system, all our organs depend on each other. If your kidneys are too busy hoarding water to take out the trash, your blood becomes thicker and more concentrated. The thicker the blood, the harder it is for your cardiovascular system (aka, your heart) to do its job. The kidneys slow down the heart’s process! There is a LOT of bad things that happen when your heart has to work harder to pump your blood. So, if you enjoy doing things like living, exercising, walking, or anything else that requires an elevated heart rate, I would strongly suggest drinking water.
If you aren’t convinced yet, here are some other benefits to drinking water:
- Anti-aging effects on the skin (your skin is the largest organ in your body. You want your skin to feel like it’s in Hawaii, not Death Valley). *This also includes wrinkle reduction! Not that wrinkles can’t be beautiful, but when you are dehydrated you can see it in your face and skin.
- Improved physical performance (it’s easier to walk, exercise, etc.)
- Weight management
- Increased energy levels
- Improved digestion
- Helps your body take out the toxin trash (your kidneys will thank you for it). This happens through urination and perspiration, both are important.
- Lubricates your joints (helps your bones out)
- Regulates your temperature
- Helps your brain
- Jump starts your organs (especially when you are drinking more water in the morning)
How does drinking water contribute to living a more mindful life? Well, I am glad you asked. When you are dehydrated (like most humans are) we rarely understand signs of thirst, hunger, or any other subtle discomforts our bodies try to communicate with us. Most of the time, if you feel hungry or like you haven’t had enough food, it is your body’s way of telling you that you are really just dehydrated. When you are adequately hydrated, your body can begin to balance out and adjust to a healthier baseline level of homeostasis (aka, a new normal). Your organs stop overcompensating and it gives you the insight you need to listen to the needs of your body when it comes to food.
Having water with meals also improves your digestion AND it allows you to slow down your eating process. Slowing down the eating process is important when you are learning about how to eat mindfully. When you eat, be sure to have water on hand!
How much water should I drink?
I am glad you asked this very important question. My initial response to this is, more. If you are in doubt about whether you are drinking enough water each day, you are probably right. Statistically speaking, if the vast majority of the human population lives in a state of dehydration, then you are probably not in the minority here. SO, you should start by doubling the amount of water you are currently consuming.
More specifically, although the science varies from person to person and is dependent on various factors, here is about how much water you should be drinking each day. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggest:
- About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids for women
- About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
Tips for Staying Hydrated:
- Drink a cup of water right when you wake up
- Drink a cup about 30-minutes before a meal
- Drink a cup right before bed
- Before, after, and during exercise
- Always have water on hand! Get yourself a fancy water bottle and carry it around with you wherever you go. This will quickly turn into a habit and lugging around a big bottle will remind you to drink more water. **It may seem inconvenient, but believe me, it’s way more convenient than all the health problems dehydration can create.
- Try making your own spa water by adding mint, cucumbers, berries, lemons or limes to your water!
- Drink a glass after meals
- Order water in addition to your morning coffee at your local coffee shop.
- Track your water intake!
Stay hydrated, my friends. You will get used to having to run to the bathroom more often than you are used to, but your body will thank you for it!
At The Fearless Kind we encourage all our patients to drink a lot of water, as it helps flush out the toxins from the body. It also improves mood, offsets caffeine consumption, and provides our patients with more energy to work on their recovery while in treatment.