So water seems to come up a lot and some people even joke that these naturalists and organic freaks think water is some kind of cure-all... and in some situations it really is! The human body is comprised of nearly 60% water... so if you're sick, or your skin is bad, or you're just not feeling 100% then chances are that you are a little bit dehydrated. In fact, nearly all headaches not connected to conditions such as brain tumors are caused by consistent mild dehydration.
Lets look at the facts. A car needs oil. Plain and simple. If you regularly don't put in enough oil then the engine cannot function at full speed and will eventually, and quite literally, blow up. When you compare this to the human body, then its not hard to imagine that we would run into a whole host of problems when we don't drink enough water.
Now, everyone will agree that blood is important. What does blood do? It keeps the body supplied with oxygen, transports waste for removal, and delivers much needed hormones and nutrients throughout the body as well as helping to regulate body temperature. Well guess what, in a well hydrated individual blood is about 92% water (according to Wikipedia). If you're not constantly replenishing the water that evaporates off your skin when you sweat, or the water you lose from waste removal into the urinary tract, or the water that gets moved into the cells when nutrient transfers occur then you're going to end up with some pretty thick, sludgy blood. Thick blood is bad. At the very least its... not good. (that's for my Invader Zim fans out there)
So how do I know I am dehydrated?
Easy. Look at your skin. There is a pretty wide range of skin related signs of dehydration ranging from dry, cracked or peeling skin (usually on the joints and face), to acne breakouts and blemishes, to skin that scars easily and is less turgid, meaning that it takes a while to lay flat again after being pinched.
Another sign of dehydration that is often ignored is headaches. When dehydrated, the blood vessels, particularly the small ones in your brain, experience strain on the vessle walls, creating pressure in the brain, which we experience as headaches. So before popping those liver and kidney damaging pain relievers, first try drinking a glass of water and take a quick nap (if possible). Most of the time this will get rid of the headache, usually within 15-30 minutes.
Sleeping poorly can also be a sign of dehydration. Being dehydrated makes it more difficult for the body to flush out waste, so that waste builds up in certain areas of the body, usually in the muscles and joints. This causes joint pain or muscle tenderness that results in a lot of disruptive tossing and turning at night. So instead of trying one of those new, and sometimes addictive, sleep aides, just try drinking more water during the day and possibly a glass before bed. Be careful with the glass before bed though. Some people, myself included, find that this results in waking up with a puffy face. However, some people find that drinking water right before bed helps prevent being puffy faced in the morning, so you'll have to experiment with this on a day that you have the day off or don't have to be in to work early.
Drinking plenty of water also helps relieve period cramps and can reduce how long you bleed. If your blood is thick it takes longer for the uterus to purge it during your period, thus more cramping and longer bleeds. I read a website that suggested that being better hydrated allows for better liver function which helps keep estrogen levels in check. As estrogen drives a lot of the negative effects felt during menstruation then I can understand how this might play a role in the severity of any cramping you might experience. Proper hydration also prevents urinary tract infections by flushing out the ureters and urethra on a regular enough basis as to prevent the growth of infection causing bacteria. Proper hydration can even end a current and prevent future yeast infections. Think about it, yeast infections occur due to an imbalance in the body's natural fauna (bacteria and the like). When you're dehydrated certain of those bacteria and fungi in the body die off. When those die the ones they were keeping in check get out of control, thus a yeast infection.
How do I Rehydrate?
This is a pretty easy fix. Drink more water! DUH! But sometimes that's not enough. Depending on your body sometimes you may need to add a little non-iodized salt, preferably sea salt, to the water. This might seem counter productive but believe it or not salt actually helps facilitate the transportation of water across cell walls. This is why you're supposed to add large amounts of salt to the water when doing a brine for adding extra flavor to meat. The salt forces the cells to open up and take in the spice infused water, thus giving you more flavorful meat. This concept works the same for rehydrating your body, but requires much less salt. If you have access to it, Oral Rehydration Salts are great. They should contain approximately 3.5g Sodium Chloride, 1.5g Potassium Chloride, 2.9g Trisodium Citrate (dihydrate), and 20.0g Glucose Anhydrous. This should be added to 1 litre of water and drank over a period of 8-24 hours.
As for staying hydrated on a regular basis the eight 8oz glasses of water a day may not be enough for you. Instead I recommend using a calculation method based on weight, and according to LiveStrong.com that means 1 quart of water per 50lbs of weight. So a 120lb person should drink 2.4 quarts of water a day. Since 1 cup is equal to .25 quarts, divide 2.4 quarts by .25 to give that person a grand 9.6 cups of water a day. Other sites I have seen have different methods for calculating it but regardless of how you reach that number you should never drink more than 16 oz in one sitting. Drinking more than 16 oz at any given time prevents the body from being able to properly absorb the water, and results in the water being dumped without having been of maximum benefit to the body. In layman's terms...chugging wont get you hydrated any faster. In fact research shows that 'chugging' water can actually further dehydrate you.
So how about a neat trick to allow you to drink more water in one sitting and stay hydrated longer? Add Chia Pet seeds to your water. WHAT?! Chia seeds? Am I joking? Nope! I'm totally serious. The jelly like coating that forms on the outside of the Chia seed retains water that is slowly released into the body as it is digested. Yes, they feel a little weird on your tongue so try not to let them sit in your mouth for long if the texture weirds you out. This is great for when you plan any sort of outdoor activity, or plan on doing rigorous exercise, or anytime you just feel like making sure you're well hydrated all day without having to constantly drink water. Chia seeds also have the added benefits of adding dietary fiber to your diet, keeps you regular, as well as being chock full of essential minerals. So you cant go wrong by adding Chia seeds to your next water bottle!
Regardless of the quantities you think you should take, pretty much everyone will agree that to lead a happy and healthy life you need to be taking a multivitamin. So why is it that so few of us actually do? Because we have become a people of results, and when we don't see immediate results we generally think its not working or worth it so we stop taking the vitamin. Fact is that with commercial farming the soil quickly gets depleted of its essential nutrients. So if those nutrients are not regularly added back into the soil, which they aren't as regularly as should be as its expensive to do so, then the food grown from that soil is nutritionally deficient compared to its wild grown or 'organic' counterpart. Which means we humans are not getting all the vitamins and minerals that we should be. Even if you are getting vitamins and minerals in the quantities your body needs to function, those requirements increase any time the body absorbs something that is toxic, like the arsenic, lead, mercury, and other such toxins that are present in farming soil left over from a time when those chemicals were thought to be safe to use on food crops. So taking a vitamin supplement really is essential.
Another word about vitamin quantities... A little known fact about the FDA's RDA or Recommended Daily Amount, is that the RDA of a nutrient is just a base number that the average person needs to prevent certain illnesses like scurvy. It is rather a RDPD, Recommended Daily Preventative Dose. Its similar to taking baby aspirin to prevent heart attack. The aspirin by itself is not going to stop you from having a heart attack. It just helps prevent it. But you have to be on other medications, diet and exercise to further help prevent having a heart attack. I give you this comparison to say that if you are eating nutritionally deficient food and not taking a supplement, then you're not getting the amount of nutrients your body needs to be as healthy as it can be, despite having enough to prevent you being totally malnourished. Just as the baby aspirin regimen is different for each person depending on other medical conditions as well as height and weight, so will your personal requirement for nutrients be different from other people. Therefore, taking just the FDA's RDA may not be enough for you to be as healthy as you would like to be. If you're not feeling any positive effect from taking a single dose of a multivitamin then research what positive effects you would like to see, or what negative effect you're hoping to fix, and start taking extra of whatever vitamins or minerals are recommended for those things, and keep upping your dose till you feel the desired effects. One such website that I have found to be tremendously helpful in troubleshooting certain vitamin or mineral deficiencies is called www.doctoryourself.com. The information you'll find on that site is really quite eye opening and inspiring.
A word of caution, don't be afraid to experiment. In nature animals don't have to think about or be careful of how much of a certain nutrient rich food they eat, just as we should not fear taking large doses of vitamins. Animals don't worry about vitamin quantities, they instinctively know whats good for them and will eat as much of it as is needed to keep them feeling good. Whatever their body doesn't need it either stores or flushes. There is not a single death on the books that can be attributed solely to vitamin 'overdose'. So if ever you see a headline for 'Death by Vit C' its more likely to be a case of someone being crushed by a crate of oranges than it is to be a case of someone taking too many supplements. However, there are cases in which vitamin 'overdose' is listed as a contributing factor, but these are rare and always involved a medical condition that could be made worse or complicated with the use of certain supplements. So please, if you have any medical conditions be sure to do some research and maybe even consult a physician before starting vitamin therapy to be sure you dont complicate anything. One such example is Hemachromatosis, a blood condition in which the body is too efficient at absorbing Iron and stores it in organ tissues such as the heart, liver and kidneys. If left untreated this condition leads to many other illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. People suffering from this condition should not take an iron supplement and should probably even take a Green or Black Tea extract to help prevent the body from absorbing some of the iron they naturally get in their food as well as donate blood to help slowly lower their overall iron levels.
How do I know if I am not getting enough Vitamins?
You probably wouldn't believe me if I told you the symptoms since vitamin deficiency is so incredibly common, and has been for so long, that most people just accept these things as facts of life. If you're interested in seeing what common ailments are linked to vitamin deficiency please check out the following link http://itoldyouiwassick.info/2011/03/06/common-causes-of-mystery-symptoms-%E2%80%93-part-3-%E2%80%93-vitamin-and-mineral-deficiencies/. Its one I recently found and agree with pretty much everything they list on the site. Its really interesting to see what people have just learned to live with that can easily be fixed by taking vitamins. In fact, pretty much every illness, if you look closely enough, can be linked to vitamin deficiencies, even horrible illnesses like heart disease and cancer to less detrimental ones like low libido and sore gums. DoctorYourself.com is another site that has a lot of information on how to combat certain diseases using vitamin therapy as well as recommendations on doseage and what sources are best for obtaining these vitamins. So please feel free to read up on it. Not every illness is listed on the site but many of the most common ones are, and as you start treating the most common ones you may even notice that other issues you might be suffering from will decrease and even go away while you're treating the ones you looked up. You may even find that you were suffering from something you didn't even realize was a problem. For example. I was diagnosed with Post Partum Depression after I had my daughter. So my doctor started me on Vitamin D and Iron, as well as Zoloft to get me over the hill so I could feel well enough to start working out. Once I had been on vitamin D and Iron long enough for it to build up in my system and replenish my depleted stores I was feeling well enough that my Dr was able to take me off the Zoloft completely. But in the mean time I was feeling better than I ever had my entire life. Come to find out I had been suffering from a dietarily induced low grade depression almost my entire life. I never knew I could be so happy because I didn't know what it felt like. Now that I know the very real and very damaging effects of those deficiencies I make sure that I get enough sun, vitamin D when sun light is scarce, and enough iron to keep my energy up. Since then I have had more energy than I thought was possible and I almost never have unexplained periods of sadness.
This brings me to the last item on today's list. Exercise. Why is exercise important? There are many reasons, the usual being that its important to stay in shape, you want to look good, etc. But what if I told you that exercise helps you be a happier person? Now, I know this isn't such a foreign concept but it really is true and it can be just as effective as any anti-depressant. If you're up and moving you're more likely to feel energetic. In fact when youre regularly exercising your body consumes more calories, so you can feel good about occasionally eating those really rich foods that make you smile. Having a higher calorie requirement also helps to speed up your metabolism, and when you're trying to get and stay thin, a fast metabolism is your best friend.
Exercise also gets your heart rate up. Duh. I know. But why is getting your heart rate up a good thing? Well, for one, it stimulates the brain to release endorphins which produce a whole ton of feel good responses in the body. http://www.road-to-health.com/64/What_are_Endorphins_.html explains it quite nicely, its a bit of an education :) and according to the site ' The word "Endorphin" comes from the two words, "endogenous + morphine." Endorphins are small, protein molecules that are produced by cells in your nervous system and other parts of your body. An important role of endorphins is to work with sedative receptors that are known to relieve common pain. These analgesia-producing receptors are located in your brain, spinal cord, and other nerve endings. Endorphins are not a single molecule, but actually come in several forms, and can be anywhere from eighteen to five hundred times as powerful as any man-made analgesic. And, they are non-addictive.' Exercise is a natural pain reliever??? How cool is that?! And whats more, exercise also improves circulation. This helps promote balance within the body that reduces swelling in the limbs, allows for swift and proper transportation of hormones and nutrients, and also increases your libido...something that naturally increases your desire for sex cant be a bad thing, especially not when you're married. So hop on that treadmill and run baby, RUN! Your husband will thank you for it, I promise!
So What Constitutes Exercise?
Any activity that when sustained for 30 minutes or more will raise the heart rate several points. That could mean anything from running a mile, to walking around the neighborhood, to doing the dishes and laundry, to doing yoga (yes, yoga really can get your heart rate up, if you disagree you're either doing it wrong or you've never done yoga). And yes, rigorous sex can be counted as exercise if you do it for 30 minutes or longer, remember, the increased heart-rate is just as important as any muscle movements you might be doing.
However you choose to get your exercise, to get the best results you should you raise your heart rate to the point that talking while exercising becomes difficult. This rule doesn't apply directly if you're doing weight training, which everyone should, especially if you're trying to lose weight or lean out. When doing weights you should chose a weight that you can complete 4 sets of 10 repetitions with. By the 10th rep of the 4th set you should be genuinely struggling to move the weight. If you get to the point where you can relatively easily finish the set, then its time to up the weight. Don't let yourself get too comfortable with the weight as this will result in the plateau effect where you'll stop seeing any major results. This is fine, however if you've gotten to a look you enjoy and are just trying to maintain it.
Don't let anyone tell you that your chosen method of exercise is not beneficial. If that activity gets your heart rate up and makes you feel great then who is to say its not helping you? Granted, certain exercise methods are better suited for weight loss than others, for example: yoga is much better for increased flexibility and body control than weight lifting or running, just as weight lifting and running is great for weight loss and muscle gain. So its very important to make sure that the exercise method you choose is whats best for the results you're looking for. And as always, be sure to do some research first to find out what will suit you best, and if you have any medical conditions or concerns be sure to consult with a physician before starting a new exercise plan.
If you're already pretty fit or you're just simply happy with the way you look then you may want to choose an exercise plan that allows you time to meditate, or just be present in your body. This might sound like a lot of spiritual hocus pocus but you might be amazed at just how therapeutic it is to simply let yourself exist while blocking out all other thoughts or cares. This activity could be something as simple as doing dishes by hand, or sitting in the sauna after a nice run. Though the point of exercise is usually to get your heart rate up its just as important to have a cool down period after the exertion to allow you to quiet your mind before returning to the stresses of everyday life.
So do some research, find out whats bringing you down that could be contributing to unhappiness in your life and in your marriage. I guarantee you that you'll be surprised at how much happier you can be when you start focusing on taking care of the things you CAN change rather than worrying about the things that cause unhappiness that you have no control over... like your spouse. When I stopped worrying about John and started making sure I was taking good care of myself I was more free to love John for who he is, warts and all, without adding to the stresses of marriage by not being healthy.