Demons and Dehydration

swimming in water glass I grew up with this whole idea drummed into me that you needed to consume eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day. It seemed like a daunting task, especially given the fact that I wasn’t big on water at the time and would much rather have had a Coke… or two… or ten… than anything that I basically deemed ‘tasteless’.

I remember at one point during my teenage years, my sister and I took up running – a pursuit that lasted an excruciating two-and-a-half weeks – in an effort at adopting a healthier lifestyle as we edged our way into young womanhood. Water went hand in hand with running it seemed; everywhere we read about the importance of staying well hydrated. Unfortunately, nowhere did it say to drink Coke.

So water it was.

Before each run we would fill up a gallon jug with water, the motive being to drink half of it before and half of it after. That gallon container was like our own personal Mount Everest. We would take a huge swig and barely make a dent. It was like the holy, miraculous healing dirt in the church at Chimayo; supposedly no matter how much is removed from the little hole in the ground -and there are people standing in line for this stuff – it is ever replenished. That water seemed to go on forever; it was as if there was an invisible spring inside the container. It was demonic.

Anyway, once we drank half of it – a feat that in and of itself seemed gargantuan – we would run. I could hear the water sloshing around in my stomach like a wave pool. It was not comfortable. I don’t know what was worse.: the running or the inner spring that threatened to erupt as a geyser with every stride.

We decided to take up bicycling instead. It seemed saner.

Water is no longer my ‘enemy’. Not only do I drink a lot of it, but the fact that my diet is mostly raw accomplishes a consistent supply  in the form of water laden fruits and veggies. These do a bang-up job when it comes to fulfilling daily requirements.

One of the major reasons that we are told to consume more water before, during and after a workout is to dilute toxins our bodies produce naturally as a response to physical exercise. There are several ways that the body becomes dehydrated. It’ s really a combination of not getting enough water (whether through drinking or consuming water dense foods such as raw fruits and vegetables) and too many toxins. The real deal with keeping ourselves hydrated is to dilute and eliminate toxins that are brought in from outside our bodies – in the form of food, pollution and the environment in general, and those that we produce internally as a response to stress and physical exertion. If our toxin levels are too high relative to our water intake, it can cause us to become dehydrated. Similarly if we lose more water than we replace through heat, altitude, humidity and exercise, we are again at risk of becoming dehydrated.

Also remember that if your diet is high in cooked food – even if it includes it’s fair share of fruits and vegetables – you have to drink more water. Cooking takes the moisture out of food. Think of how easy it is to ‘cook down’ a sauce. That’s an ideal illustration.

75% of the population suffers from chronic dehydration. They don’t even know it. They just believe they’re tired. And there’s a virtual litany of reasons why they should be. But if you’re tired and in denial there are some pretty obvious indicators of dehydration and most often your pee will keep you well informed.  If urine is very yellow or deep in color it’s a surefire indicator that you’ve been shortchanging yourself on water; ideally urine should be close to colorless. Also, even though you don’t want to be going to the bathroom every 15 minutes, if you are urinating less than six times a day or when you do pee, there’s hardly anything to speak of, you are definitely dehydrated. Time for that gallon jug.

Generally one should drink water before and after meals but not during; drinking while you eat dilutes digestive juices and makes digestion take longer. We are looking for ease and efficiency, not sluggishness.

It’s a great idea to start every day with a glass of water. Room temperature is great and won’t shock your system. Maybe with the tiniest squeeze of lemon. Just keep a glass bedside and down it before you even put your feet on the ground to face the day. This way you know you’ll be starting out the day hydrated and you’ll be more energetic from the start.

And I usually keep a pitcher in the fridge, as well. Laced with cucumber.  I could drink 8 glasses of that, no problem at all.