I was running the fifth stage of the TransRockies Ultra marathon. I happened upon a fellow participant who was coming toward me. I stopped her for a chat asking her where she was headed. She said her hydration pack had leaked dry and so she was running back to the last aid station to get help. Red flag! The aid station was almost 3 miles back and uphill. The next aid station was only 1.5 miles ahead and downhill. She had lost her ability to reason. She was severely dehydrated. The medics worked their magic and she finished the day. But imagine if in that state she had decided to find a short cut? How many decisions do you think you have made from a state of mild to extreme dehydration? Water is the most undervalued regulator of all health. We all know we need to drink it. But each of us has different needs based on our activities, general wellbeing and age.
How do you know if you need more? I use this simple test with my clients. Pinch the skin on the back of your hand. Now let go and watch how it responds. Did the skin pop back to its shape? Or did it slowly fade back into shape? The slower it takes to go back down, the more desperate your hydration situation. Imagine a baby’s skin, they’re so well hydrated it is almost impossible to pinch only skin.
Your skin is the largest organ of your body. In the body there is a hierarchy of needs that prioritizes the brain and nervous system for obvious reasons. This allows us to keep our reason even in desperate situations. Being able to do simple math and problem solving. We saw from my example what extreme dehydration can do to the brain. In this hierarchy of the body, below the central nervous system we have the organs. Below both the nervous system and the organs on the totem pole, according holistic pioneer Paul Chek’s work, is the connective tissue, muscles and bones. So if the organ of your skin is not fully hydrated, imagine how your calf muscles are doing? In my example, the athlete was executing a high demand sport at altitude and it had already robbed her of her ability to think straight. Water is important. Fuel your totem pole.
Imagine what happens inside your body when you set off for a workout already dehydrated? Now you must use some of your precious water to cool the body to keep the brain from overheating. In Dr Batmanghelidj’s book “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water” he states: “Water, the solvent of the body, regulates all functions, including the activity of the solutes it dissolves and circulates.” In other words, water runs the show. It is present for all our chemical reactions every second, it delivers the hormonal messages from tissue to tissue and it prioritizes systems and actions to ensure our immediate health.
Our daily actions must be built around feeding ourselves this healing element. Water is life giving. Water is life sustaining. It’s widely available for free. We have dedicated genius solutions over the years to ensure its delivery to people. We have fought wars over access. Yet when I recommend this fast and easy daily upgrade, it is dismissed. Yeah, yeah, I know. The most common excuses I hear from my clients? I don’t like it. I drink lots of other liquids. I don’t have time to go to the bathroom, so I limit it.
Dr Batmanghelidj’s research highlights, “It is now becoming obvious that, because of a gradually failing thirst sensation, our bodies become chronically and increasingly dehydrated from early adulthood.” This changes the balance of water in our cells vs the water held outside the cell body from 1.1 in our youth to progressing to an unstable 0.8 in our declining years. That means you can’t rely on drinking when you feel thirsty as that alert system fails us as we grow older. You must, instead, have a hydration plan. The sketch is: start with water, have water between meals early in the day (especially if you have trouble with nighttime bathroom frequency) and eat your water.
*Drink a big glass of water first thing in the morning.
*If you drink caffeine, you will need to 1:3 ratio of caffeinated beverages to water
*If you drink alcohol, you will need to 1:3 ratio of alcoholic beverages to water
*Use a measured preferably glass vessel during your day to ensure you are meeting your needs (general rule is AT LEAST ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day)
*Drink enough to build in bathroom break necessities during your day
*Eat structured water in the form of organic cucumbers, watermelon, watercress, lettuces, chia beverages especially if you have difficulty drinking your water or challenge your system with caffeine and alcohol
In our bodies water acts as a solvent, a means of transport and packing material. It is an elemental part of our moment of creation and its absence is a clear marker of eminent demise. Love your body. Fuel your success.