- Dr. Nancy
What is Your Relationship With Water?
What is your relationship with water? Do you reluctantly sip and swallow striving to get your daily quota? Is it a long-lost love that has been replaced by sweeter substitutes? Have you yet to discover the power that water holds for transforming your health?
Throughout my decades in practice, the most common question that I have been asked by patients is: “What is the most important thing that I can do to improve my health?”
My answer has consistently been: Drink water.
Water is really the unsung hero of health and wellness. It is involved directly or indirectly with every cell and function in the body. Our bodies are comprised of primarily water; it makes up about 70% of our body weight. We can only survive for a few days without water, making it the most important nutrient to influence health.
Water is so critical to our survival for many reasons:
- Provides structure to our cells
- Transports nutrients and waste products
- Regulates temperature
- Acts as a lubricant and shock absorber
- Helps to deliver oxygen throughout the body
- Assists the brain to manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters
- Promotes healthy looking skin - Assists mitochondria to produce energy
Hydration requirements vary from individual to individual. There is no one-size that fits all. Proper hydration goes beyond counting ounces; it requires that you tune in and listen to what your body needs.
We have the built-in mechanism to regulate our thirst as a survival mechanism. But too often we ignore it. We have actually conditioned ourselves to ignore the thirst sensation. When we first ignore it, we are telling our brain there is no water available.
That shifts us into survival mode and the brain puts the body on high alert, engaging our fight or flee response. This stimulates the body to conserve resources and hold on to what it currently has.
Survival mode slows down your metabolism causing you to have low energy, foggy thoughts, and unclear memory. It also slows your digestion and elimination, meaning you get constipated. You might even experience muscle pain or cramping.
In an attempt to conserve resources, you hold on to water which may cause bloating. And now your mitochondria use sugar rather than fat to produce energy, and since survival mode stimulates your body to grow and replicate fat cells, you produce more fat and you hold on to it to ensure future survival rather than burning it for energy.
To compound the problem of ignoring our thirst, we have become a society of sippers. We sip our coffee or tea. Unfortunately, sipping all day signals that resources, water specifically, are sparse, and then we shift to survival mode.
This habit of sipping, more importantly what we are sipping, has worked to continually dampen our natural thirst instinct and lead to chronic dehydration. According to a study published in 2008 in the journal of Physiology & Behavior, water constitutes only about 10% of beverage consumption. The other beverage choices supply dietary energy, meaning they contain a form of sugar.
Consumption of energy-yielding beverages to relieve thirst further disrupts our homeostatic associative learning patterns. In other words, the boost of energy covers up the symptom of thirst. The sugar also stimulates a reward cascade in the brain that results in craving more sugar to replicate the boost of energy feeling.
A chronic state of dehydration will desensitize the brain, and we will eventually no longer get “thirsty.” Through its innate survival mechanisms, the body will compensate and learns to adapt to water deprivation. It will function, but it will not function optimally. You may survive, but you will not thrive.
If you find you have not been thirsty, or that you don’t enjoy the taste of water, your thirst instinct has most likely gone dormant. It is simple, but not necessarily easy, to revive your natural thirst instinct. This is the most important action you can take to revitalize your body and optimize your health.
When you awaken and re-engage your natural thirst instinct, it is easy to stay optimally hydrated every day because you know you are consuming the right amount of water for your individual body. Here are just a few of the benefits of proper hydration:
- Less binge eating and cravings
- Boosts detoxification efforts within your body
- Increased energy
- No mid-afternoon energy crash
- Weight loss
- Increased mind-body awareness and connection
- Increased performance
- Better skin
- Eliminate brain fog
Optimizing your hydration hygiene is a logical first step in transforming your health. The best method that I have found to reignite the natural thirst instinct is Alex Charfen’s 10-day program. I featured it in my book and my online course.
Reclaim your body’s natural thirst instinct with 3 simple adjustments to your beverage consumption. This low-risk program is designed to give you the highest rewards in your hydration.
This is all it takes...
• Hyperhydrate: in the morning right after you get up and throughout the day
• Proximity to water: keep water with you all day • If you think, drink: if you so much as look at your water, drink
Hyperhydrate (swiftly drink at least 16 ounces of water) to convince your body that water is abundant, and to prevent your body from transitioning to survival mode. Drinking water throughout the day is difficult for some at first. But if you hyperhydrate in the morning, keep water within arm’s reach at all times, and continuously hydrate throughout the day, you’ll be surprised how quickly your natural thirst will become a permanent part of your life.
The water molecule touches every aspect of your health and vitality. Drinking water appropriately is a simple solution to change your health trajectory.