By Anita Ramsden, kinesiologist.
When people come for kinesiology sessions, a first, very important check is to understand just how hydrated they are – or not as the case may be.
Kinesiology is a useful tool here as it can be used to work out if they require more liquid and if so, what the optimum amount is for them. For most, it is between seven and eight glasses, or around two litres. But do bear in mind that tea, coffee and alcohol do not count towards this quota.
When muscle testing, you can ask the body, “do you need one glass, two glasses?” etc and keep going until you get a lock on the muscle. This means that any discoveries are always tailored to the individual.
Why drink more water?
On returning for another session, people always tell me how much better they feel as a result of being hydrated properly. They feel more awake, experience fewer headaches, can think more clearly and may even start eating less as some apparent hunger pangs are, in fact, thirst signals. Many individuals also sleep better, suffer fewer aches and pains and see their complexion improve as remaining hydrated helps the body to flush out toxins.
Initially though, people often feel a little resistance to such a simple idea as drinking water. They say they do not care for the taste or they do not feel thirsty. But what I say is: “Why not try it – if only just to prove me wrong!”
For those who are unused to consuming a lot of water, it is important to increase your intake gradually, adding an extra glass each day. In this way, the cells in your body can get used to it and begin to absorb it properly.
As you start to increase the amount of liquid you consume, your thirst mechanism will become more efficient and your body might begin asking you to drink more. It is a surprising fact that, once you start to drink more water, you often start to feel more thirsty. This is because your body understands it is no longer in a drought situation and so feels able to ask for more.
After all, the human body is 75% water and 25% solid mass. Even on an average day without undertaking a lot of exercise, 2500ml of water leaves the body as urine, as air expelled from our lungs and as sweat through our skin.
If you read Patrick Holford’s brilliant book, Optimum Nutrition, he explains that our lungs are 90% water, our blood 82%, our brain 76% our muscles 75% and our bones, 25%.
As a result, if we are not taking in adequate amounts of liquid, our internal processes start to suffer – although the body does have its own drought management system to prevent dehydration and enable survival.
How to increase your water intake
I always advise clients to take a glass of water to bed with them at night and to drink it when they wake up. If you do so regularly, it will become a habit. You are at your most dehydrated first thing in the morning after sweating during the night and your body will love you for replenishing it so quickly.
Dr Batmanghelidj, who wrote a well-known book entitled ‘Your Body’s Many Cries for Water’, recommends that should you have trouble sleeping, take a glass of water and put a tiny pinch of salt (sea salt or Himalayan, if you have it) on your tongue. Do not allow it to touch the roof of your mouth, but let it dissolve in a bit of the water and swallow.
Be sure to ignore this advice if you have kidney problems or have been advised to avoid or cut down on salt though.
Once you have spent a few days getting used to the amount of water your body needs, fill a two-litre bottle up and ensure you drink this amount during the day. Stainless steel bottles are a great investment here as not only do they keep your drink nice and cold, but plastic bottles degrade over time and leach harmful plastic into the water.
If you are not keen on the taste of your local tap water though, simply fill a jug and let it stand for a while as the chlorine it contains will evaporate, leaving you with a sweeter, more palatable liquid. Restaurants always fill their well-iced water jugs ahead of time for this very reason. Alternatively, you can buy a water filter jug to remove any impurities.
During the winter months, adding lemon, mint, thyme or ginger to hot water also makes it more pleasant to consume and can easily be used as a replacement for tea and coffee. Lemon is particularly beneficial as it adds vitamin C, which is good for eliminating toxins. But cucumber is also a fantastic addition too as it is a good source of potassium, which can help lower your blood pressure.
Does water have any side effects?
The first thing that people discover is that the more water that goes into their system, the more needs to come out. The process is similar to that seen with a dried-up pot plant.
When you first start to water it, the soil is so dry, it just runs straight through. But after a little while, it takes up some of the water and rehydrates. This means that when you water it again, it is able to soak a lot more of the water up and retain it, so the plant can benefit.
It is for this reason that it is important to increase your intake over the course of a few days. But the great thing is that, as the water leaves your body, it also takes with it waste materials and toxins that the body has no need of, thereby purifying your system.
As a rule of thumb, according to Dr Batmanghelidj, healthy urine “should, ideally, be almost colourless to light yellow. If it begins to become dark yellow or even orange in colour, you are becoming dehydrated. This means the kidneys are working extra hard to get rid of toxins in the body in very concentrated urine”.
In fact, in his book, he demonstrates his belief that all too often, “you are not sick, you are thirsty”, using thousands of real-life case histories to prove his point. He provides the science behind the intricate workings of the body and shows how we need water, among other things, to keep our joints lubricated, which reduces arthritic pain, to prevent asthma by keeping our lungs hydrated, to reduce excess body weight and eradicate dyspeptic pain. In fact, he describes water as “a revolutionary, natural way to prevent illness and restore good health”.
One of the key factors here is that drinking water is an excellent way of keeping the digestive system working effectively. If the body is well hydrated, the large intestine is not looking to prevent any excess water from leaving the body. Therefore, taking in sufficient liquid can help to reduce constipation.
So as you can see, it truly is amazing just how many benefits can be gained from such a cheap, and easy-to-obtain, commodity – who would have thought it?
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