4:10 Series of Habit Hacks for an Improved Lifestyle: HYDRATE
I extend my gratitude to every person dedicating his or her time to reading my article. Small tweaks in daily activities fueled by consistency closes the gap (I Am Here) (My Ideal Self).
In elementary school, I was a big tea drinker. Mornings started with a cup of English Breakfast, dinners ended with Green tea, and bedtime included Lemongrass or Raspberry tea. I set off to classes carrying my 8 oz. water bottle all day. I would come home, unpack my backpack and set my unopened water on the table. Rinse & Repeat. I felt no desire to hydrate despite my mom begging me to sip water throughout the day.
Water almost felt too simple of a practice to include as its own Habit Hack, and yet, the amount of dehydration affecting our population is extensive. We mistakenly assume that if it is liquid, it hydrates.
A study conducted at UConn evaluated the correlation between mild dehydration (defined at 1.5% regular water loss) and adverse mood changes; both men and women experienced headaches, fatigue, and higher perceived difficulty of tasks. Interestingly, women were more vulnerable to symptoms and mood shifts of dehydration than men. Dr. Lawrence Armstrong reports that the body develops a thirst sensation when it reaches 1% or 2% dehydration. Hence, drinking water throughout the day to remain hydrated, as opposed to drinking when thirsty, can prevent related effects.
The cardiovascular system is highly affected when lacking sufficient water. Cells' increased retention of sodium reduces blood volume. Despite increased beats per minute, the heart is unable to pump enough blood efficiently throughout the body. Minimal blood causes vessel walls in major areas of the upper body to contract during dehydration; baroreceptors measure these pressure areas in our blood, sending signals to the brain and causing an elevated heart rate. Symptoms related to dehydration are lightheadedness, irritability, constipation, and confusion.
Our brains are nearly 80% water; thirst occurs when dehydration is already affecting the body. Tea, coffee, soda, energy drinks, sports drinks and lemon water all dehydrate the body. A recommendation for balancing intake is 2:1 for these liquids; two cups water to one cup other. Summer is in full swing for the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in New York City. As humidity rises, sweat cannot evaporate at a quick enough rate to reduce body temperature, increasing the need for hydrating liquids.
Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese researcher studied the effect of intentions on molecular structure in water. He used Magnetic Resonance Analysis Technology and photography to document these changes on an anatomical level. The geometric formations changed depending on the energy exposed prior to consumption. The photos provide evidence of some profound shift to the "solid" formation. If we juxtapose the molecular composition of water with our predominantly water-composed brains, it begs the question how would a transformation in thought shift our mind processes?
Human bodies are composed of 70% water, similarly to our earth (70%) and most vegetables (70%). I urge us to pause and consider sipping a refreshing glass of water, sending gratitude for our easy access to filtered tap water. Before mindlessly snacking or downing drinks I suggest delaying an automatic action with H2O and 15 minutes of deliberation. Perhaps our bodies can reach harmonious homeostasis through replenishing and hydrating our cells. Uplift our minds, relax our muscles, and quench the thirst.
Mayo Clinic Staff, Dehydration. (MayoClinic, 2018)
McIlwain, H. and Bachelard, H.S., Biochemistry and the Central Nervous System. (Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 1985)
Poitras, Colin, Even Mild Dehydration Can Alter Mood (University of Connecticut, 2012)
Unger, Kristen, The Effects of Dehydration on the Cardiovascular System. (Livestrong, 2017)
Wellness Enterprise, Dr. Masaru Emoto and Water Consciousness. (The Wellness Enterprise, 2018)