Staying hydrated, or getting enough water throughout the day can be difficult for many of us. Most people don't wake up in the morning and set as a goal for the day to drink enough water and it really isn't the last thing most of us think about as we drift to sleep, "did I get enough H2O"? Few of us get into bed at night and think I should have actually eaten today. That's because eating food is generally a higher priority than drinking water.
I hear this a lot "I'm just too busy to remember to drink water" or "I already pee like 20 times per day, and I need to drink more water" or "if I drank more water then I would need to give up some of my coffee". I get all of the excuses, but when people really begin to understand how important hydration is, the excuses begin to melt away.
So why is hydration so important for us?
Our bodies are composed of more than 62% water and it is needed for nearly every chemical process in our body. Water helps transport nutrients into cells, carry waste out of cells and out of the body, cushion organs, support our blood supply, fight infection, and keep our skin elastic and glowing. Water supports other processes like sex (think natural lubricant), breast milk supply for those nursing mama's out there, kidney function and overall detox. I could keep going, but I will stop here: ENERGY. Water is so important for you to feel energized.
But how much water do I really need?
A good general rule is taking you body weight in pounds and dividing it in half. A good average for women is about 90 ounces and for men it would be about 120 ounces. That is 8 glasses of water for women and about 12 for men. This liquid includes water you would get from food sources too. Think about foods like cucumbers, watermelons, even soup. You can get a lot of water/hydration from these foods.
If you find it difficult to remember to drink enough water consider setting a reminder on your phone or keep a log of what you are drinking for a few days. Tally up glasses of water, make a note of what time of day you hit your hydration goal. If you review a few days logs, you may be able to find areas where you can improve. There are even water tracking apps like Foodstand, which allows you to log the number of glasses you consume throughout the day.
Water, is that it?
Nope, there are definitely some alternatives to choose from if water is just too boring for you.
-Try flavoring your water by adding some slices lemon, cucumbers or melons. You could also add fresh herbs like mint into a glass before filling it with water.
-Ice tea is a great way to sip you way to hydration goals. In truth hot tea counts too. Just make sure you aren't adding too much sugar to your tea, but that's a topic for another day.
-Kombucha! This is a great go-to. It is a bit more exciting than water and contains live probiotics which also aid digestion, mood, immunity, and it's just fun to say "kombucha".
-Eat foods that have high water content like melons, cucumbers, celery, fruit or jicama. I wouldn't solely depend on this for your water needs, but incorporating these foods into you diet will help with overall hydration health.
-Buy a cute/fun water bottle that you are happy to carry around because it makes you feel super hip. Then show off you amazing hydration skills by drinking all that water you keep putting in it.
Give it a try! Log for a few days your water intake and see if you can reach your ounces goal.
After years of being vilified as the macronutrient that will make you fat, I am glad to report most people are not as afraid of eating fat these days. To put is simply, it is much more likely that the sugar and highly processed carbohydrates we eat in high quantities are contributing to growing waist lines, higher overall weight and declining health. Fat is good for you and necessary to support healthy hormone balance, immune function, glowing skin and anti-inflammatory processes in the body. So let's look more closely at what fats can improve our health and which fats to limit.
Some people believe that the fat they consume is mostly contained in the oils they cook with or the salad dressings they throw on their salad. It's more than that. There is fat in meat, dairy products, nuts, and even some fruit (think coconuts and avocados).
Fats are made up of a number of different “fatty acids”. You have heard of these before, for instance “omega 3 fatty acids” or “omega 6 fatty acids”. Omega 6 fatty acids are highly concentrated in vegetable oils like sunflower, soybean, safflower and corn. Because these are cheaper oils and most can be heated to high temperatures many of our processed cereals, baked goods, and fast food companies tend to cook in these omega 6 rich oils. In America we consume more omega 6 than is best for our bodies. We also tend not to eat enough omega 3 or omega 9 rich foods to promote balance in our bodies. Omega 6 fatty acids have been shown to increase inflammation response. Whereas omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to promote anti-inflammatory processes.
Trans fat should be avoided altogether. You’ll find this type of fat in shortening and many shelf stable crackers and cookies in the supermarket. It is so bad for you that many other countries have completely banned this type of fat. It hides itself in many of our foods though, so sticking to whole foods is your best bet to avoid this type of fat. If you can’t do that make sure to scan the ingredient label for anything that says “partially hydrogenated oil”.
Saturated fats should be limited in our diets. They are found in dairy products and meat products. Choosing leaner cuts of meat and reducing the amount of full fat dairy consumed are the two best ways to avoid consuming too much saturated fat.
So what are healthy fats?
Those with a higher content of Omega 3 fatty acids, higher levels of Omega 9 fatty acids (conjugated linoleic acid or CLA), as well as fats containing medium chain triglycerides, because all of these types of fats have been shown to improve our health in one or multiple ways. It’s not so important that you remember these types of fat components but rather what types of foods to eat to maximize these healthier fats.
See my list below:
Wild caught salmon or other fatty fish: One of the best and highest sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. All fish contain these good fats, the colder water a fish swims in will increase the amount of Omega 3s it contains. Sardines are another great source or cod liver oil.
Grass fed beef has as much as 5 times more Omega-3s as a corn fed cow. It has much higher content of Omega-9 fatty acids as well. Cattle naturally graze on grass, you won’t find them in corn fields. Feeding cattle what is more natural for them yields healthier body compositions and in turn, improves the quality of meat we can source from these animals. You may have to adjust to a slightly less sweet, less fatty, and more gamey taste. Over time, grass fed beef will begin to taste normal to you.
Olive oil has been proven time and again in studies to improve cardiovascular labs like cholesterol and triglycerides. The Mediterranean diet is rich in fish, olive oil and olives and many studies have been done to learn why this diet pattern is so beneficial.
Avocados are a fruit that is rich in oleic acid. Oleic acid is the same type of fatty acid in olive oil.
Walnuts have the highest omega 3 content of nuts. However other healthy nuts include pecans, peanuts, and almonds.
Organic eggs from pastured chickens are much higher in omega fatty acids.
Butter or ghee from grass fed cows contains a short chain fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties called butyric acid. They also contain omega 3s and up to 5 times more CLA than butter from corn fed cows.
In terms of cooking oils, olive oil is great at lower temperatures and avocado oil or ghee are great alternatives for higher cooking temperatures. All have wonderful health attributes and are great additions to an anti-inflammatory kitchen.
Caitlin Johnson is a dietitian, wife, lover of ice cream, chef wannabe, California-girl, Christian, liver eating, "food-avore."
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