Staying properly hydrated (drinking enough water) is one of the main pillars of good health.
Water is the main nutrient transport system of the body. If you are dehydrated then all of the nutrients you consume are moving through sludge, leaving one lethargic (low energy) and with a foggy brain. Remember, our bodies are composed of 60% water. Water is a main component of blood and all of our cells are bathed in a watery solution. Water is essential to help dissolve nutrients so they can be utilized by the body. Water is essential for excretion (detoxification), nutrient transport and heat transfer to maintain balance. Its importance for good health cannot be over emphasized.
Studies recommend drinking half of your body weight in ounces every day to stay properly hydrated. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink at least 75 ounces of water per day. You should increase consumption above these guidelines if you are working out or are in hot weather.
The best way to make sure you drink the proper amount of water is to make a goal and then a plan to reach that goal. In the above example where 75 ounces is needed, (approximately 10 glasses) make sure that you drink 2 glasses before you leave for work. Then make sure you have another 2 glasses before lunch. Planning this way will ensure that you reach your goal and over time will become a good habit that seems very natural.
The preferred water is reverse osmosis filtered water; this will filter out the majority of toxins found in the water supply. Also avoid drinking out of plastic – use stainless steel, glass or BPA free containers to limit any additional toxins.
Enjoy your water and you will feel better, be more energized and be one step closer to good health.
The proper amount of sleep is another essential pillar for good health. When we do not get enough sleep our bodies believe we are stressed (this comes from the flight or fight mechanism we are all born with). When the body believes it is stressed it releases excess cortisol and adrenaline. What this does is temporarily increases energy for the flight or fight response. It also stops many other body processes that it deems unnecessary during the flight or fight response. These body processes include: digestion, cell repair, insulin production and utilization, melatonin and serotonin production. It also releases stored sugar but stops it’s utilization, so it is readily available for the flight or fight response. If this occurs on a regular basis from lack of sleep, it leads to higher sugar levels, weight gain and increased risk of inflammatory related diseases like heart attacks. It also causes autoimmune related problems. By stopping the production of serotonin and melatonin (which are chemicals needed for relaxation and sleep) it also will hinder sleep, creating a very negative cycle.
We all need a minimum of 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, preferably between the hours of 10pm-6am. This is the natural bio-rhythm that the body was designed to follow according to natural light provided (sunset and sunrise).
Some ways to improve sleep includes, cutting off all bright lights an hour before bed (bright lights also inhibit serotonin and melatonin production) avoid foods that spike insulin level (especially near bedtime) and cut caffeine consumption in the early afternoon.
Many people who have trouble sleeping take a serotonin or melatonin supplement but this often tells the body that you have enough of these chemicals and curtails production. Instead, I recommend taking 5-HTP (5-hydroxy tryptophan). This is a precursor to serotonin production and does not signal the body to stop production.
The proper amount of sleep will help you feel better, stronger, more energized and aid in disease prevention (even weight loss) and general good health. So get a great nights’ sleep and be healthy.
This article soon to be published in American Way Magazine.