The importance of drinking water for optimal mind/body health
When we feel anxious, stressed, fearful or exhausted, it is so important to remember that we are one being – mind, body and spirit. Clinical hypnotherapy is a fantastic way to disperse negativity in our mind and help us to create achievable goals on the way to full recovery of our issues. However, to successfully achieve this, we also need to be mindful of our bodys’ need too, in order to allow us to feel alert, clear-headed, energetic and optimistic.
The expression, ‘you are what you eat,’ of course, goes for what you drink too.
This article is designed to show you just how much you can do for yourself, to help you on the road back to optimal health - mind, body and spirit. Keeping fully hydrated is probably the most important thing you can do for your mind and body. If you are lucky and do not suffer from stress and anxiety, the effects of correcting hydration levels, have been known to surprise the fittest of people!
Our bodies are approximately 2/3 water, so it stands to reason that a lack of hydration affects our ability to think, to converse, to learn, to exercise, to sleep, to have a fully functioning digestive system. The list goes on and on.
Latest research shows us a very strong link between the stomach and the brain and the stomach is being referred to regularly, as the ‘second brain.’ Studies by Michael Gershon, chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Centre, state that there are 100 million neurons in this “second brain, all constantly firing messages to the brain.”
So when we drink enough water to enable our digestive systems to work at optimum level, not only do we experience greater concentration, clearer skin, more energy, less bloating and easier weight loss, but we also can experience less anxiety and stress, simply because we generally feel far more alert and healthy.
There are all sorts of suggestions out there for how much water you should be drinking on a daily basis. I am aware of one yoga retreat that recommends you drink 5 litres every day! 5 litres and I’d have no time for yoga as I’d be too busy rushing in and out of the loo. But there we are… Just one suggestion!
Drinking a minimum of 6-8 glasses of water a day, you will maintain a good level of hydration, certainly enough to enable your body to function as efficiently as possible and reading on, you will discover some of the wonderful health benefits of making this a habit.
If you are trying to lose weight, drinking water can be very beneficial. Our bodies confuse hunger with thirst, so if you eat when you are thirsty, your thirst will be masked and partially satiated by the liquid content of the food and you will consequently not drink as much water as your body needs. A good way to tell whether you are thirsty or hungry is to drink a large glass of water and if your hunger goes away, you know it was thirst!
Dehydration is the result of drinking too little water which can lead to any of the following:
- · confusion
- · constipation
- · formation of kidney stones
- · mood swings
- · shock
- · overheating
- · exhaustion
The ideal way to start your day: A large glass of water drunk first thing in the morning, will jumpstart your metabolism. The Japanese have a morning system called “water therapy,” whereby they drink as much as 1 - 1.5 litres of water before they eat or drink anything else at all, keeping an hour gap between drinking the water and eating. They believe this to be highly beneficial in treating everything from headaches to arthritis. If that amount sounds daunting, don’t worry, starting by drinking at least 1 or 2 glasses of water before breakfast is ideal for eliminating toxins and all substances that our body doesn’t need. It also helps prevent diseases whilst boosting our metabolism and providing us with added energy to begin our day.
Water has so many health benefits. It provides antioxidants (whose job it is to prevent or delay cell damage which we get from oxidative stress, caused by free radicals.) Oxidative stress can lead to such issues as heart disease, cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and eye degeneration, so avoiding this at all costs is hugely beneficial. Good hydration also helps the body to flush out toxins.
Drinking a glass of water whist out eating can help to reduce the appetite as well as counteracting the various effects of drinking alcohol.
Adding Lemon to your water can increase these outstanding health benefits.
Lemons contain polyphenols which help to reduce appetite and therefore curb weight gain. They also contain:
- · Pectin - great for overall gut health.
- · Citric acid - two cups a day can help prevent the formation of kidney stones.
- · Potassium - a key constituent which boosts metabolism and revitalises the skin.
- · Phytonutrients – repairing DNA damage and enhancing immunity
- · Limonene – effective against certain cancers
There are numerous health benefits to be gained from drinking fresh lemon juice. Even adding a squeeze to your foods, soups, salads will provide you with so much valuable protection to assist in keeping you healthy and feeling really well and alert. I drink a large glass of lemon water every morning at least 30 minutes before eating. A great way to start the day!
Another highly valuable and cheap way to gain added hydration and nutrients is to eat cucumber, or infuse slices into a bottle of water, giving the water just a delicious hint of that incredibly fresh, summer smell that is cucumber.
Cucumbers belong to the same plant family as squash, pumpkin, and watermelon. Like watermelon, cucumbers are made up of 95% water, which means eating them on a hot summer day, along with drinking plenty of water, can also help you stay doubly hydrated.
Incorporating vitamin K, B vitamins, copper, potassium, vitamin C, and manganese, cucumbers can help you to avoid nutrient deficiencies that are widespread, particularly among those eating a highly processed diet. Also, cucumbers contain unique polyphenols and other compounds that may help reduce your risk of chronic diseases and much, much more.
Cucumber is so very beneficial for all the following reasons:
· Protects Your Brain, containing an anti-inflammatory flavonol called fisetin that appears to play an important role in brain health. In addition to improving your memory and protecting your nerve cells from age-related decline, fisetin has also been found to prevent progressive memory and learning impairments in mice with Alzheimer's disease.
· Helps Reduce Your Risk of Cancer. Cucumbers contain polyphenols which may help to lower your risk of breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers. They also contain phytonutrients called cucurbitacins, which also have anti-cancer properties.
· Fights Inflammation. Cucumbers may help to reduce inflammation in your body, and animal studies suggest that cucumber extract does the same.
· Full of Antioxidant Properties. Cucumbers contain lots of antioxidants, including vitamin C and beta-carotene. They also contain antioxidant flavonoids, which provide additional benefits.
· Freshens your Breath. Placing a cucumber slice on the roof of your mouth may help to rid your mouth of odour-causing bacteria. According to the principles of Ayurveda, eating cucumbers may also help to release excess heat in your stomach, which is said to be a primary cause of bad breath.
· Manages Stress Levels. Cucumbers contain multiple B vitamins, including vitamin B1, vitamin B5, and vitamin B7 (biotin). B vitamins are known to help ease feelings of anxiety and help relieve some of the damaging effects of stress.
· Supports Digestive Health. Cucumbers are rich in two of the most basic elements needed for healthy digestion: water and fibre. Adding cucumbers to your juice or salad can help you meet the ideal of amount of fibre your body needs — 50 grams per 1,000 calories consumed. If you struggle with acid reflux, drinking water can help suppress acute symptoms of acid reflux by temporarily raising stomach pH; it's believed that water-rich cucumbers may have a similar effect. Cucumber skins contain insoluble fibre, which helps add bulk to your stool. This helps food to move through your digestive tract more quickly for healthy elimination.
· Helps Maintains a Healthy Weight. Cucumbers are very low in calories; (one cup of sliced cucumber contains just 16 calories.) The soluble fibre in cucumbers helps to slow down your digestion and this makes you feel full longer. This is one reason why fibre-rich foods may help with weight control.
· Supports Heart Health. Cucumbers contain potassium, associated with lower blood pressure levels. A proper balance of potassium both inside and outside your cells is crucial for your body to function properly.
So cucumber has a huge part to play in the hydration and healthy functioning of your body and of course, it is easy, cheap and so accessible.
When taking exercise, be sure to have (or to make yourself,) a good quality sports drink containing electrolytes to counteract the effects of the exercise. Here is an easy recipe you can use:
- · 3-4 cups water
- · 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- · 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- · 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
- · 2 tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup
It also makes sense to increase your intake of other foods containing a high water content, including berries, radishes, celery, spinach, watermelon and green peppers.
So get yourself a 1 or 1.5 litre bottle of some description and start your day by filling it to the brim with fresh, ideally filtered, water - add some cucumber, lime, lemon, fresh basil leaves, or whatever flavours take your fancy. Then, throughout the day, keep sipping and be aware of how much of your daily requirement you are having. You will soon feel the benefits of good hydration, in your skin, your eyes, your energy levels and in your ability to maintain a clear head, a positive attitude and sharp thinking!
I take a bottle with a built in infuser wherever I go, filled with cucumber and fresh mint leaves. If like me, you find it difficult to drink lots of plain water, this way it is far more interesting. It tastes so pure and refreshing that it is delightful, especially during and after exercise.
I can’t think of a cheaper and less time consuming way to seriously improve your physical health and mental weel-being. Try it - it works!