Updated: Dec 6, 2018
Throughout my 31 years in practice, the most common question I’ve been asked is: What is the one thing that I can do to improve my health?
My answer has consistently been: Drink water. Sadly, most people do not like my simple answer. They crave a silver bullet in the form of a fad diet, new supplement, exotic fruit, or protein shake.
Hydration is essential to all of our bodily functions. Better yet, water is “free.” I know you’ve heard this before, and drinking water certainly isn’t as sexy as many of the self-proclaimed cure-alls. However, proper hydration is one thing that you have 100% control over.
It is estimated that about 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. We just don’t drink enough water.
We have become a society of sippers. We sip our coffee or tea. This habit [MOU1] of sipping has caused us to lose our natural thirst instinct. The hypothalamus in our brain constantly monitors our hydration. A chronic state of dehydration desensitizes the brain and eventually you will no longer get “thirsty.” We need to really drink those glasses of water.
Some people may occasionally forego soda, juice, or artificially flavored [MOU1] carbonated water for a glass of water. Which is a good strategy, but it’s not enough. And no, that glass of wine, microbrew, or cider does not count toward your daily hydration requirements. In fact, many of our preferred beverages actually have a diuretic effect or contribute to a systemic acid shift, which causes even more dehydration.
Chronic dehydration puts an enormous strain on the kidneys, liver, and gut, which inhibits these organs’ ability to detoxify your body. This results in a variety of systemic health issues, including allergies, weight gain, migraines, organ dysfunction, and brain fog. A mere 3% dehydration will affect your cognitive abilities.
It’s simple, but not easy, to revive your natural thirst instinct. This is the most important action that you can take to optimize your health.
Here’s my strategy:
Prepare - Nothing screams failure like not being prepared. Therefore, go find yourself a hip-looking Swell bottle that’s at least 16 ounces. It will be your new best friend and go everywhere with you.
Skip Sipping - Continued sipping of coffee, tea, wine, etc. during the initial 7 to 10 days will sabotage your efforts to revive your natural thirst instinct. You can do it!
Hyper-hydrate until 8:00 pm.
Wake up. Brush your teeth. Drink a minimum of 16 ounces of room-temperature water as fast as you comfortably can. This will get easier as you go.
Drink a minimum of 16 ounces of water as fast as you comfortably can every 60 to 90 minutes. Set a timer! I know, you’ll be making many trips to the bathroom until your system rehydrates.
Drink a bottle of water anytime you think about drinking or look at your water bottle sitting next to you. You need to honor the signs and signals from your brain. Just don’t sip!
Drink your last water at 8:00 pm. This will reduce your need to get up multiple times during the night.
4. Do not fear the “healing crisis” - It’s not uncommon to experience some side effects of rehydrating. In my experience, days three to four are typically when symptoms occur for most people. These include headache, nausea, diarrhea, muscle, and joint pain—basically flu-like symptoms. KEEP DRINKING WATER. This is a natural transition, and these symptoms will not last.
5. Commit to the Change - Continue to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of room temperature water every day. You can add sipping back into your routine, but make it fit around your water schedule. Do not adapt your water drinking.
This practice will become habit in three to four weeks. This habit could save your life!
If you “don’t like the taste of water,” here are a few ways to change it up for your afternoon drinking pleasure ONLY.
Infuse a large glass jug of water with the following options and let it sit on your counter at room temperature. Just add a few slices to gently accentuate the water. The water is still the primary ingredient. Make it a goal to drink the entire jug in one day.
Fresh strawberries and basil leaves
Sliced cucumber, lemon, and mint leaves
Sliced cucumber and ginger
Sliced lime and mint leaves