Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tip Two: Drink Up

Kitchen Reform: help your kitchen get healthy.

 It's a good sign in a New Year's resolution kind of blog when the second week hooks in drinking, I always say. So here goes. Drink up.

Water, I mean -- you knew there was a catch, didn't you?

So here goes, the top 5 reasons for increased H2O consumption:
        *Regulates body temperature
        *Lubricates joints
        *Helps dissolve and carry nutrients to the body
        *Lessens the burden on kidney and liver by flushing toxins
        *Helps prevent constipation

This might sound a little boring, but makes sense: the body is 60% water, and we excrete it constantly through breathing, perspiration and urination. We need to continually replenish to lubricate our muscles and joints as well as flush the system. If you work out or are pregnant or breastfeeding, your body is using even more. (Breast milk is 88% water. You have to get to give, I guess).

In just a few days of increased water, nutritionista Holli Thompson notes, you can lose a pound or two and your skin will look gorgeous. Why? "Your body holds onto water if it needs it, like a camel," she says. Once properly hydrated, the body will release the water it's holding onto, along with toxins that can dull our skin and cramp our style. Some even grant water wrinkle-reducing powers.

But how much is enough? That 8 glasses a day rule is generally correct, according to Thompson. Sounds like a lot, but consider, for starters, that the average adult produces 6.3 cups of urine a day. Plus, "a lot of food is loaded with salt, and caffeine and alcohol dehydrate us even further," says Thompson. Seems the typical American diet is setting us up for dehydration. (Rabbits, by contrast,  hardly need to drink extra water at all, as the greens they nibble all day are 85% water.) As a rule of thumb, one should be drinking enough so that urine runs nearly clear, though that is just for you to know, ok?

How in heck does one begin to drink that much? I charted my own progress, and let's just remember I am kind of a newbie at this. Extremely bad. I drink tea in the morning, which is good, but don't generally drink again until water with lunch, which is apparently not optimal. "Try to hydrate prior to eating, but 1 to 2 hours during and after eating, let the digestive enzymes work," advises Thompson.

Luckily, augmenting water with essences and herbs doesn't detract from its magic; dairy and caffeine, it seems, do. These chilly days, I like a squeeze of lemon, or mint, in warm water. Others can only chug cold H2O. The water drinking forum online has all kinds of tips for getting it down (Jello, anyone? Please. the sugar in that alone makes it not worth the work): and Thompson has a great tip sheet on her website as well.

What helps me is just to keep it handy. In fact, I used to be much better at drinking water when I kept bottles in our garage fridge and grabbed them each car trip. (I stopped doing that because the bottles themselves contain toxins, and the extreme fluctuation in temperatures while water is shipping can cause those carcinogens to leech into the water, creating far worse problems than dehydration. And of course, because I read about the big patches of plastic that are spiraling about in our oceans, breaking down and infiltrating our marine life, and eventually, probably our own selves.) If you haven't seen it, check out Plastiki, David de Rothschild's boat made entirely of plastic, which he built and sailed from San Francisco to Sydney to draw attention to plastic pollution.

So we stopped buying water bottles and got an under sink filter for our drinking water, as we are on a well. Much municipal water, however, is held to tighter standards than bottled water, so either way, get yours tested before leaping for the filter, which must be maintained monthly.

Here's the deal: just keep it handy. You'll drink it unconsciously. Get a water instead of a cocktail every once in a while, and I bet that goes down the hatch too. Get a great water bottle, fill it from your own trusty water source at home, and take it in the car. (Try for a wide mouth, though; Thompson says many women are getting smoker's cracks along the top of the mouth from pursing their lips all day drinking from the tiny openings in water bottles. Which you'll have to drink even more water to get rid of.)

Cup love: porcelain, so it's nice to hold, and
a lid for going.


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