How Many Times Must I Learn the Dehydration Lesson?

“Did you know the number one cause of headaches in North America is dehydration?”

In 1999, I sat at my desk massaging my throbbing temples when a co-worker asked me this baffling question. “No, I did not know that”, I moaned. She continued, “More people are helped by the glass of water they take with the pain reliever than with the pain reliever itself.” Wouldn't you know it! When I convinced myself to stay hydrated, my frequent headaches subsided.

”Did you know the number one cause of constipation is dehydration?”

Shrugging off the déjà vu and embarrassment that my step-mother-in-law knew I was constipated, I again said I did not know that. Albeit much harder to intake enough fluids when nursing (which caused my problem in the first place) I made a conscious effort to stay hydrated and again solved my problem.

“Did you know water is better than lip balm?”

Skeptical that anything but Spring weather could solve my first-Michigan-winter lip issues, I again answered “No, I didn’t know that” to a native Michigander. Sure enough, drinking more water did much more for my cracking lips, cuticles and knuckles and itchy arms than all the balms and salves and lotions I’d been slathering on since the first snow.

Is there anything water can’t do?

Probably not. Water helps every system of your body. In addition to helping with headaches and better bowels, if you avoid dehydration...

• Your immune system can better flush out irritants and antigens

• Your urinary system can better flush out toxins

• Your skin will have fewer breakouts and wrinkles

• You will have more energy because you’ll have enough blood volume to keep the oxygen flowing

• Menstrual cramps will feel less intense

“Does it HAVE to be plain water?”

Let’s explore your non-water options:

• Soda (a.k.a. liquid candy bar) has phosphoric acid and caffeine, which will dehydrate you and pull nutrients out of your body, not to mention empty calories

• Diet soda has artificial sweeteners that can trick your body into overindulging in sweets later

• Grocery store juices contain lots of calories for the amount of nutrients they provide

• The cost of flavored waters adds up quickly. They often contain the same questionable ingredients as soda

• Caffeinated teas will pull water out of your body

• Herbal teas are the next best thing to water, but boxed tea bags cost quite a bit if you drink them as your only source of hydration

”Okay! I get it! I need to drink water!”

I don’t know about you, but that was easier said than done for me. I tried filling a pitcher with my water for the day, but at dinner I still had more than half of it to consume! And drinking too much water at once, especially with meals, can lead to weird tummy feelings and indigestion because it dilutes your stomach acid.

So, I started adding a splash of juice to the pitcher of water, which significantly increased my ability to consume it, but became an expensive and calorie-laden option.

I tried adding lemon juice, and that also helped a bit, but I just got bored. Then I was introduced to goji berry juice. I experience so many benefits that I know I’ll be drinking goji berry juice every day. Why not have it help me avoid dehydration? I drink one ounce goji juice with 12 ounces of water four times a day. Finally, for the first time in my life, it hasn’t been a hassle to stay hydrated! (And I need a LOT of water every day because I’m nursing my daughter.)

I also enjoy drinking out of pretty stemware. We don’t drink alcohol, so they’re just going to collect dust otherwise. Find moments in your day that you can associate with water consumption…

• Make sure your water glass rests in a high-traffic spot, and drink every time you pass by

• Add a straw. You'll drink more with each swig

• Sip while you read a magazine

• Put a glass by the recipe you’re using and take a swallow with each step

• Drink while you surf (the net)

• Guzzle a cup after each time you brush your teeth

”Help! I’m drowning!”

When you first commence your battle on dehydration, you will be visiting the bathroom CONSTANTLY. My dad clocked himself at every 20 minutes when he first started. Eventually, your body will realize what you’re doing. Your kidneys will stop hogging all the water and share with other body systems and you won’t have to “go” so much. Full-tilt hydration should have you peeing every 3-5 hours, with clear urine. So, ignore the numbers. Stop worrying about how many ounces. Try for clearer pee.

Drink Warm

I’ve heard so much conflicting advice about what temperature your water should be:

“Ice cold! You’ll burn calories warming it up!”

“Room temperature! You’ll absorb it instantly!”

In my quest to improve my digestion, the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle, I found that drinking cold liquids with meals causes digestion to slow down. If you deal with indigestion or constipation, try drinking warm or room temperature liquids with meals. Now that my habit is hot tea with meals, if I ever have ice water with food, my stomach lurches with protest. When helping food along, think warm! If ice helps you drink it down other times of day... go for it!

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What has water done for you? Any tips to share with our readers? Let me know with the form below! :)

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