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Health and Water

Health and Water. Taking charge of our own well-being

By María Villegas

Today I would like to address here a fundamental topic that, despite its importance, we often neglect. A topic that could even save our lives. I am referring to hydration - a vital component of health -, the correct way and amount to do it, as well as the signs that reveal its need. We can include all the greens imaginable in our diets, exclude sugar or gluten, exercise like marathon runners or meditate like initiated masters, but if we do not hydrate ourselves properly, we will not see the expected results.

Water is nature's essential nutrient. 70% of the earth, the brain, the body, the muscles, is water. However, only 2.5% of the planet is drinkable. It is a finite resource and must be cared for. Our body only lives 3 to 5 days without water. Water contributes to the proper functioning of the body and digestion, the detoxification process, and the maintenance of healthy skin. Water protects joints and tissues, lubricates the spinal cord, regulates blood pressure and temperature, quenches thirst, improves the health of skin, nails and hair, reduces feelings of hunger and contributes to weight loss. But, just as it is a finite resource for the planet, it is also a finite resource for our body. Every day we lose about 2.5 liters through urine, sweat, tears, breathing, exercise and others. Although we should drink plenty of water, excess water can cause mineral imbalances due to the calcium, magnesium and fluoride content. Therefore, the amount and form of ingestion must be calculated.

Signs of dehydration:

Sticky mouth Dark and frequent urine
Cramps Dizziness or fainting
Constipation and digestive problems
Lack of energy
Low blood pressure
Dry skin Feeling hungry

Some effects:

Premature aging
Fluid retention and weight
Excess toxins
Lack of concentration

In people under 65 years of age, dehydration can also be detected by the elasticity of the skin. If when you pinch the skin on your arm for a few seconds and release it, it forms a kind of tent and does not immediately return to its normal condition, it is a sign of dehydration.

A 5% decrease in body fluids results in a loss of 25 to 30% of energy. With just 1% dehydration, mood, attention, memory and motor skills are already affected.

Photography by Charlotte May

What amount?

Surely you have heard about 8 glasses of water a day. That may or may not be a recommended measure because not all organisms are the same. One option to calculate the number of daily liters that we are supposed to ingest is to divide our body weight in kilos by 30. But, if the average result is 2.5 liters—practically what we lose per day—we are not hydrating ourselves. In truth, just replenishing fluid. Therefore, our intake, in principle, should be a little higher, 3 to 4 liters per day. How to drink 4 liters if we barely manage to drink 2 glasses? There are healthy ways to do it, but first let's see what water is most advisable for it.

What water?

There are different types of water. Most, treated with chlorine and fluoride, lose many original minerals. I do not recommend tap water, because it can bring parasites and contaminants, either due to the state of the pipe or due to the chlorine treatment.

A study in the United States found 316 contaminants in tap water, of which 86 were caused by treatment plants, in addition to 204 types of chemicals, the origin of which in some cases could not be determined.

A very complete water is that which comes from springs because it is pure and retains all its properties; Its pH of 7 makes it neutral, neither acidic nor alkaline. But, since it is not easy to have a spring at hand, we need a more viable option. Alkaline water—which has a higher pH—is healthier because it promotes cell regeneration, the elimination of toxins and helps combat, among other irregularities, insomnia, gastric hyperacidity and diabetes.

We can obtain alkaline water through special ionizing filters or through a simple homemade method: fill a jug with boiled water, add half a teaspoon of baking soda, cover it and shake it vigorously. It can be stored in the refrigerator and lasts the same as the traditional one. It should be shaken well before each intake. Another way to have healthy water is to add ½ lemon to each glass.

Always remember to boil the water!

When I ask some patients why they don't drink water, I almost always get two answers: that they forget or that they don't feel able to drink that amount. A good way to improve hydration is to make it a habit, linking drinking water to a habit that you already have and practice, without fail, every day.

Useful habits:

      Drink a glass of water before or after each brushing your teeth.
      Have another glass while you prepare breakfast or lunch.
      Drink one or two glasses of water when you get to the office
      Drink about four cups of herbal tea a day.
      Drink a large bottle of water while walking the dog, if applicable.
      Drink a glass of water when you wake up.

        Be careful, these are changes that must be gradual, you do not go from 0 to 100% in one day. Little by little, the body gets used to it and will receive the water more comfortably. It is recommended to drink a lot of water in the morning, moderately in the afternoon and little or nothing at night so that it does not interrupt your sleep.

        Oriento Photography

        Staying hydrated:

        Have a jar with the necessary amount on your desk, and take regular shots.

        Set reminders on your phone or watch or download an alarm app. Include green juices, not everything has to be 100% water.

        Cucumber or melon, as well as many other vegetables, are rich in liquid. Always carry a large bottle of water and have it on hand.

        If we get tired of the water due to the lack of flavor, add mint, lemon, celery, cinnamon, ginger or something else that makes it more refreshing.

        Drink water gradually. You don't drink in 10 minutes what you didn't drink in a whole day and it can make you feel bad.

        Be creative. Include hot or cold herbal tea, vegetable milks or soups. Replace habits. Instead of drinking coffee, have a glass of water.

        Write hydration goals and read them aloud day and night, so that the mind understands what to do and how to project.

        Proper hydration: Drinking coffee, tea, soda, alcohol or energy drinks is not as effective in quenching thirst or regulating fluid levels, as they have dehydrating agents that produce the opposite effect to what is intended. Let us remember that, even if they contain water, they are not water.

        Increase the amount of water when you are in very high places; when you exercise, you have diarrhea, fever or vomiting; when there are urinary infections; when you are pregnant or breastfeeding; when alcohol has been ingested.

        People with cancer should increase their hydration so as not to become dehydrated with the side effects of therapy. Make sure you are well hydrated when exercising.

        Coconut water, in addition to hydrating, restores lost electrolytes.

        An additional fact, if you are going to carry water in a bottle, it should be taken into account that some plastic containers may contain BPA (Bisphenol-A), a toxic compound that can cause health problems. It is worth investing in a good quality bottle, hopefully not plastic or PBA free.

        I hope these tips help improve your hydration levels and your health.

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        You can find the author on Instagram as @mariavillegasoficial

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