Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dry as the Sahara

It's possible I have not been drinking enough water lately.

I've received a few clues from my body: I was awakened by a gnarly charlie-horse (muscle cramp) in my calf a couple of mornings ago. The kind that forces you to scream in pain while grabbing your foot and manually flexing the ankle to release the excruciating muscle spasm. Not the most relaxing start to the day. (Cramps like this are almost always due to dehydration.)

Yesterday, upon rising from my nap (during which my humidifier decided to give up the ghost) I thought my nose was running. Nope. It was bleeding. I had a spontaneous bloody nose. Another sign of extreme dryness inside my poor nostrils.

Have I been thirsty lately? No. Never. You might think someone who is clearly dehydrated should experience a little bit of thirst. However, it seems that our mechanism for indicating thirst does not always function properly. In the summertime, I'm thirsty all the time. Constantly. And I drink water non-stop. When the temperature outside drops, I stop experiencing thirst. I have to FORCE myself to drink water. All I want is warm cups of steaming tea, coffee, and the like. Are you the same?

I used to bring my water bottle with me on every walk with my dog. This way I would consume a full liter of water without even thinking about it. It was habit. Now we have been experiencing single-digit temperatures in the mornings. I have to wear gloves PLUS mittens on top just keep my hands from freezing into solid lumps of ice. There is no way I can carry a water bottle and drink. Unfortunately, I haven't found a new habitual method for getting that liter of water into my body. My bottle sits on the kitchen table, lonely and forgotten, while I brew another cup of tea.

Tea, you say? Isn't that made out of water? Well, yes, technically it is. But all forms of tea (black, white, green) and coffee are also diuretics. They cause the body to excrete water. So drinking tea and coffee doesn't count toward your daily total of necessary water. Herbal teas vary. Some contain no diuretics so these cups would count.

Wintertime is the dry season. The air is dry due to the forced air heating in our homes and offices. There is naturally less humidity in the air already. Add to that a tendency to drink LESS water, and you are rapidly heading toward dehydration. Even slight dehydration seriously stresses the body, thickens the blood, forces the heart to work harder, slows digestion and elimination, interferes with brain function, causes muscles to cramp and spasm, and dries out mucus membranes allowing bacteria and viruses to enter the body. UGH!

Don't follow in my dusty footsteps! Find a way to get more water into your desperately dried-out body! Carry your lonely water bottle around with you. Drink a cup of water before each meal and snack. Substitute a cup of herbal tea for at least one of your coffees or regular teas. Make some soup. Drink bone broths. Eat some juicy fruits and veggies. Try to consume 3-4 liters of water each day. Every system in your body will thank you!

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