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The Art of Health Bulletin


July 2007

In This Bulletin

Optimal Body Hydration
Why Do We Need to Take In Water?
Water vs. Fluids
Hydrating and Dehydrating Foods
But Water Doesn't Quench My Thirst?
When to Drink Water
Optimal Hydration – Beyond Water Intake

Why Do We Need to Take In Water?

As you may know, the various tissues of the human body are between 75% and 95% water. This water is used as a way of transporting nutrients and other substances in the body. The splitting of the water molecule is one of the ways that the body created energy in the form of ATP.

Transmission of nerve impulses and neurotransmitters is heavily dependent on water. Water also holds the cell membranes together allowing greater efficiency of proteins and enzymes, this means a more efficient metabolism specifically sugar metabolism, the immune system, and the body's detoxification pathways.

Every 24 hours the body recycles the equivalent of forty thousand glasses of water to maintain normal physiological functions. Within this process, the body becomes short about 6-10 glasses of water each day. This deficit must be supplied to the body each day. The body needs, on average, upwards of half its weight in ounces of water per day - a minimum of 8-10 glasses.

Water vs. Fluids

As far as body chemistry is concerned, water and fluid are two different things. Coffee, tea, soda, alcohol and milk all act differently in the body than water and are not hydrating. Caffeine and caffeine-like substances dehydrate the body. They cause you to urinate more than the volume of the water contained in the beverage. Even some herbal teas act as diuretics - eliminating water from the body.

Alcohol causes the kidneys to flush out water and are thus dehydrating. Alcohol causes brain-cell dehydration that manifests as a hangover after alcohol consumption.

If you are a milk drinker it should be considered a food. It is made up of proteins which are solids. Infants who receive formulated milk instead of mother's milk need more water in their diets to compensate for this.

Hydrating and Dehydrating Foods

Beverages are not the only way of hydrating the body. Lets look at food. Foods can be divided up into two basic groups. The first group is made up of concentrated foods. This includes all proteins, fats and starches. Examples of concentrated foods are bread, potatoes, meat, cheese, fish, eggs, tofu, pasta, nuts, seeds and beans.

The second food group is watery foods. This includes fruits and vegetables. Clearly they vary in the amount of water they contain. A fruit like a grape has a much greater percentage of water in it than a banana. Likewise a zucchini squash has more water in it than acorn squash.

It has been suggested by some nutrition experts that the ideal proportion of watery foods to concentrated foods should be 80% watery foods to 20% concentrated foods. Even if you were to narrow this margin considerably to 60% watery foods to 40% concentrated foods it is still drastically different that a typical American diet.

Think about commonly eaten meals in America. Hamburger and fries, pizza, a burrito, or a sandwich. All of these foods are made up of mostly, if not completely concentrated foods. Where does the body get the H2O in these meals to create the digestive enzymes to breakdown them down?

It is our American diet that is responsible for much of our dehydration, and therefore countless, unnecessary health problems. Some of the health problems linked to dehydration are allergies, asthma, chronic bronchitis, and frequent or prolonged colds due to sluggish lymphatic flow.

But Water Doesn't Quench My Thirst?

Many people find that drinking water doesn't really quench their thirst or it "goes right through them", or makes them bloated and uncomfortable. Taking in enough water is the first step. The next step is getting it into the cells where it can be used!

The water we take in from eating fruits and vegetables is easily utilized by our cells because fruits and vegetables (especially organically grown) contain minerals - electrolytes that will allow for water and other substances to cross cell membranes.

Electrolyte-enhanced water can be purchased at many natural food stores. You can also make your own much less expensively by adding 1/4 teaspoon salt to each quart of water. Please use a non- processed salt such as the brand name "Real Salt". Pure white salts have had the minerals processed out of them and can cause fluid retention and contribute to hypertension. Un-processed salts will have a pinkish or beige color. The color means it contains the mineral balance naturally found in salt and will act in a balanced way in your body.

Water will also be more easily utilized by the body by adding fruit such as lemon juice or vinegar to the water. Adding fruit juice will also create an electrolyte solution. Just be careful of consuming too much fruit juice. Keep in mind that it takes many pieces of fruit to create a glass of juice making it very high in dietary sugars.

Read about Real Salt

When to Drink Water

• Drink water before meals (ideally 30 minute before). this prepares the digestive tract or breaking down foods.
• Drink water anytime you are thirsty - even during meals. Dehydration during food intake dramatically impairs digestion.
• Drink water two and a half hours after a meal to complete the process of digestion and correct dehydration that occurs from the breakdown of food.
• Drink 2 glasses of water first thing in the morning to correct the dehydration that occurs during sleep.
• Drink water before exercising to have water available for creating sweat - an important detoxification mechanism.
• And, of course, drink water after exercising to replenish the water lost through perspiration.

Optimal Hydration – Beyond Water Intake

Many people have dehydrated body cells and brain tissue even though they consume adequate amounts of water. In my naturopathic practice I utilize techniques from the BodyTalk System in such cases. The BodyTalk System addresses underlying factors that limit the absorption of water throughout the body.

This involves a specific balancing technique that is done in the office and involves no medicine (natural or synthetic). The technique may be applied to general body hydration, or when needed, to the hydration of a specific area such as an arthritic joint or a specific organ.

Many people notice significant changes in their skin a month or two after the BodyTalk session as their skin rehydrates and becomes more youthful in appearance.

More on the BodyTalk System

Keep your eyes open for my next Art of Health e-bulletin on Breast Health - True Prevention. Have a great Summer!

Optimal Body

Summer is here at last. For many this means more time spent out of doors in the heat of the sun.

The sun is drying to our skin. Moisturizing with SPF is crucial for maintaining hydration of the skin. But what about the rest of the body?

Warmer temperatures also mean increased perspiration which equals dehydration. How can you maintain adequate hydration of your entire body?

Read on. This email contains important information on optimal body hydration.

Yours in Health,

Laura Washington, ND

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