This month's self-care tip focuses on hydration. Dehydration is something we usually associate with the hot summer months, but truthfully, water is key in maintaining homeostasis all year round. This is just as necessary in the cold winter months when the air is much drier. Homeostasis is the constant state of equilibrium our body strives to achieve. Maintaining this equilibrium involves a complex interaction of hormones, nutrients, proper function of organs, muscles, and all body parts. Temperature regulation is also an important part of maintaining homeostasis, because our bodies begin to shut down or malfunction outside of a certain temperature range (when hypothermia or hyperthermia occur). What does this have to do with hydration? Adequate fluid intake is essential for healthy blood volume, which is needed to maintain a healthy blood pressure and properly transport nutrients throughout our bodies. Our interstitial spaces and organs are lubricated with fluid, whose major component is water. It also helps us maintain our body temperature and moisten mucous membranes (e.g., those in our eyes, mouths, and noses). Proper hydration helps us maintain the integrity of our skin (although "extra" water intake has not been proven to lead to better than average skin health - Dr. Lawrence E. Gibson - Mayo Clinic).
How much is enough?
The Mayo Clinic cites a study by the Institute of Medicine that has determined the average woman needs 9 (8 oz) glasses of fluid, and the average man needs 13 (8 oz) glasses of fluid a day. However, if you have kidney failure, your doctor may limit your fluid intake. Likewise, if you are pregnant or nursing, your needs are increased to approximately 12-13 (8 oz) glasses daily.
What about other beverages?
Water is the healthiest choice, and what our body really needs. Sodas, teas, coffee, milk, juices, even energy drinks do contribute to your fluid intake through the water your body extracts from it. That being said, these beverages often contain sodium, which can increase your blood pressure and cause swelling. They may contain sugar, which will elevate your blood sugar and interfere with weight loss or diabetes management. Other components of those drinks are filtered by your GI tract (nutrients and water), and your liver and kidneys (waste). Caffeine induces urination, but in general will not cause you to lose more fluid than the caffeinated beverage you drink. While a cup of coffee may negate itself, the water you drink at the gym for instance will not necessarily be expelled because of the caffeine in that coffee. Even some fruits and vegetables are water dense, and therefore should be counted toward your total fluid intake.
I specialize in prenatal and post-partum massage. As part of this specialization, I will be offering weekly blog posts on prenatal, post-partum, labor-and-delivery, breastfeeding, and related topics (3/4 weeks of the month - the other 1/4 is the newsletter post). You will all continue to receive the monthly self-care tip and special in your inbox once monthly. To avoid unneccesary email for individuals who are not interested, the pregnancy related topics will be posted on the blog, but not emailed. You can follow on Twitter or Facebook to see when a new post is published, or check the blog weekly.
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