What might be the most common nutritional deficiency in the American population?

man in black crew neck shirt
Do you ever have any of the following:
  • cravings?
  • fatigue?
  • anxiety?
  • muscle cramps?
  • headaches/migraines?
  • degradation in memory and ability to concentrate?
  • darker urine?
  • dry mouth?
  • thirst?

Did you know that these are all early signs of dehydration? 

I am not saying there cannot be other causes for these symptoms, BUT have you considered that hydration can play a significant role?

Water is the most important nutrient in the body.  And water is the most common nutrient deficiency in the American population.[1]

Typically, a person can go approximately eight weeks without food, but only days without water.

Our body’s mass is 55-60% water.  In an average adult, that equates to 10-13 gallons of water.

You are probably sighing right now and saying, “I know I should drink more water.”

BUT are you familiar with the essential roles it plays in the body?
  • Improves oxygen delivery to cells (We start breathing faster to keep up with the oxygen needs in the absence of appropriate hydration.)
  • Transports nutrients
  • Enables cellular hydration (Most of the volume of our cells and body fluid is water.)
  • Moistens oxygen for easier breathing
  • Cushions bones and joints
  • Absorbs shocks to joints and organs
  • Lubricates joints
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Removes wastes
  • Flushes toxins
  • Prevents tissues from sticking (When dehydrated, you get stiffer and have less flexibility.)
  • Improves cell-to-cell communications (Can you imagine what it would be like if your brain couldn’t tell your leg muscles to contract so you could walk? Or your bladder couldn’t tell your brain that you had to use the bathroom? Or you contracted an infection and your immune system didn’t get the signal to deal with it? Cells need to be able to communicate with each other to do these things.)
  • Maintains normal electrical properties of cells (Electrical signals are fundamental to nervous system function.)
  • Empowers the body’s natural healing process (In order to heal, you need good hydration.)

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What is the big deal about being dehydrated?
  • A drop of in the body’s water content of just 2%, can cause fatigue (we often do not feel thirsty till we have already reached this state)
  • A drop of 10% can cause significant health problems – digestive, cardiovascular, immune, and musculoskeletal.
  • And a drop of more than 10% can cause death.

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Water is not stored, necessitating daily water consumption for optimal health.

But how much water do we need?

Here is a reference guide from the Institute of Medicine of the National Acadamies[2]

Life Stage Adequate Intake of water based on total beverages, including drinking water
Infants
7-12 months 20 ounces
Children
1-3 years 30 ounces
4-8 years 41 ounces
Males
9-13 years 61 ounces
14-18 years 88 ounces
19+ years 100 ounces
Females
9-13 years 54 ounces
14-18 years 60 ounces
19+ years 74 ounces
Pregnancy/Lactation
14-50 years 77 ounces
But we must also consider bioindividuality:
  • Activity level (Physical activity and heat strain require greater water intake.)
  • Processed food and sugar consumption
  • Diuretic beverage intake ***
  • Urine color
  • Environmental conditions
  • Elevation (Higher altitude and cold require greater water intake.)
  • Chronic and acute disease
  • Pregnancy and lactation

*** Diuretics (such as coffee, tea, including some herbal teas, juices, and alcohol) slow the reabsorption of water by the kidneys.  Water that should be moving back into the bloodstream is excreted instead.  Thus, consuming diuretic beverages can increase the amount of water you need to drink.

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Water depends on electrolytes for proper absorption.

Electrolytes are minerals that become capable of conducting electricity when dissolved in water.  They can be obtained through good quality sea salts, bone broth (high in electrolytic minerals, which are easily absorbed by the body) and other mineral rich foods, and homemade electrolyte solutions, as noted below.

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Problems resulting from prolonged or chronic dehydration):
  • Heartburn – digestion cannot occur without water (This does not mean drinking a lot of water during a mea as doing so can dilute your digestive juices, rather maintaining proper cellular fluids.)
  • Joint pain (Our joints need fluids. As they dry out, we start to experience pain.)
  • Back Pain (Discs in the back are cartilages which require fluid, just like our joints.)
  • Constipation
  • Colitis
  • Exercise Asthma

Note: Stress is dehydrating.  So, working to reduce stress levels will help mitigate the consequences of dehydration just discussed.

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We are entering the hotter part of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere.  This is an excellent time to give thought and action to keeping hydrated.

Can you imagine having more energy, reduced cravings, and better cognitive function simply by drinking more water?

Or overcoming exercise induced asthma as Allison M. relates: “I developed exercise induced asthma when enrolled in a breakdancing class.  It was the most high intensity exercise I had ever done.  I would come home and find myself coughing or wheezing for half an hour to an hour after every class.  I went to the student health center and they prescribed me an inhaler. I took this inhaler with me whenever I exercised.  It was not until I took a nutrition course years later, that I started drinking more water.  And the asthma just went away.  I never had it again.  I could do high intensity exercise with no coughing or wheezing at all.  I find it miraculous that just that small change, saved me a lifetime of inhaler use.”

Now you may be saying, “I don’t like water.”

Consider adding any of the following to your water to make it more pleasant and appealing:
  • Sliced lemon
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Sliced fruit or whole berries
  • Fresh ginger
  • Fresh herbs: mint, oregano, whatever is seasonally available that you want to try

To get your electrolytes, you can simply add a pinch of high-quality mineral salt[3]

When needing more intense rehydration or energy, try these cost-saving homemade energy drinks.  No more Gatorade, no more blue, red or yellow dyes.
  • Switchel (with or without the natural sweeteners) – This easy to make home brew can provide additional benefits for both digestion and cold season
  • 1:1 coconut water and filtered or spring water, with lemon and a pinch of mineral salt
  • Solé Water, as explained by Wellness Mama
  • Add 1 tsp pure maple syrup to 20oz water bottle and a pinch of mineral salt. You can also add a squeeze a little lemon for flavor. “As a triathlete it’s my go-to hydration.” Amy K.
  • Cell Salt Gatorade
  • Brine from a batch of homemade pickles

One more tip:  Measure the quantity of water you should be drinking into a pitcher at the beginning of the day.  Then pour from there every time you drink.  That way you know how much water you have drunk and how close you are to reaching your goal.  Water is calorie-free, caffeine-free, sugar-free, inexpensive, and readily available.

Enjoy and stay refreshed!

clear glass jar filled with lemonade juice

Peace and grace,

Karen

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[1] F. Batmanghelidj, MD, Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, Global Health Solutions, Inc., November 1, 2008

[2] https://www.nal.usda.gov/sites/default/files/fnic_uploads/water_full_report.pdf

[3] “The most common forms of mineral salts, in nutrient dense order, are Celtic Gray Salt, also known as Celtic Sea Salt, Baja Gold Salt, Redmond’s Real Salt and Himalayan Pink Salt.” (GAPS, Stage by Stage, With Recipes by Becky Plotner). Getting a variety is good too.

 

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