In many parts of the country, Spring has sprung, and soon the weather will be getting warmer once again. With warm weather comes the need for additional hydration so the body can continue to function at its best.
What exactly do we mean when we talk about proper hydration?
The human body is approximately 55-60% water on average, depending on a number of factors including age, gender, climate, fitness level, and hydration status. Every system of the body depends on water to function: it lubricates and cushions joints; protects the spinal cord and brain; moistens tissues in the eyes, nose, and mouth; transports nutrients to cells; regulates body temperature; and removes bodily waste. However, water is constantly being lost through breathing, sweating, and elimination products, so we need to take in enough to offset that loss. In addition, when we consume excess salt, the body needs to take in additional water to dilute and eliminate it. Excess salt intake thus leads to an increase in blood volume and blood pressure, putting a strain on our heart, blood vessels, and kidneys.
Proper hydration helps detoxify and remove excess salt and water-soluble toxins from the body. The specific amount of water needed is highly individualized, depending on diet, exercise, climate, age, and a host of other factors.
A good general rule is to consume at least 8 glasses of mineral-rich water each day to help your brain and body function at their best.
All water is not the same.
Dr. Jaffe (DrJ) recommends mineral water packaged in glass bottles, such as Gerolsteiner (still) and San Pellegrino (sparkling). Mineral water is sourced from a natural spring and contains minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sulfur. Glass is non-reactive, so you can be sure you are getting pure mineral water.
Brands bottled in plastic may cause a variety of health concerns due to microplastics that leach into the water. A 2018 study of 259 plastic water bottles from 11 brands purchased in 19 different locations in nine countries showed that a staggering 93% of them contained microplastics. Plastic #1, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) may act as an endocrine disruptor, causing issues with normal hormone function. Plastic #7 contains bisphenol A (BPA), that has been linked to issues with fertility, brain development, heart disease and cancer. BPA can be present in other plastics as well and can leach into the water over time or at high storage temperatures. If possible, skip the plastic and go for glass.
If the prospect of drinking eight glasses of water per day seems overwhelming, there are some great alternatives to keep you hydrated.
Add muddled fruit or a splash of lemon or lime. Do you find plain water too boring? Liven it up with some organic muddled berries, cucumber, citrus slices, or lemon/lime juice. Mix fruits together for endless combinations of flavor and fun! See our “Delicious Water Infusions” for some ready-made suggestions.
Try caffeine-free herbal teas, hot or iced. Note that if you are drinking beverages with food, it’s best to stick to warm or room-temperature, as iced beverages can slow digestion. Check out our Bedtime Sips that will Enhance your Sleep for some calming and relaxing herbal teas. If you are looking for a hydrating herbal beverage that won’t make you sleepy, try these favorites (and choose organic):
- Rooibos tea: Rooibos, also called “red tea,” comes from the fermented leaves of the African red bush, part of the legume family. Rooibos is high in antioxidants and has a delicate fruity taste. It’s a caffeine-free substitute for green and black tea, and also has fewer tannins and no oxalic acid when compared with black tea.
- Hibiscus tea: Hibiscus is high in antioxidants that can help prevent free-radical damage. It can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and has other potential health benefits. Check with your doctor before using if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications to lower blood pressure.
- Mint tea: Peppermint is an herb that has been medicinally used for centuries to ease digestion and treat toothaches and colds. It contains a host of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, as well as essential oils that possess antiviral and antibacterial properties. Check with your doctor before using if you have acid reflux, kidney stones, or are taking medications.
Sip on broths. Homemade broth is a delicious way to stay nourished and hydrated, as it contains plenty of vitamins and minerals. You’ll want to avoid bone broth (as toxins are concentrated in bone marrow), but you can make broths from meat, fish, or vegetables as long as you stick with organic, fresh ingredients. Check out our recipe for a plant-powered vegetable broth.
Caffeinated beverages – in moderation. Caffeine is naturally dehydrating, so for every 5-8 oz of caffeinated beverage consumed, add an extra glass of water to your daily intake. These are the caffeinated beverages DrJ recommends. Remember, always choose organic, or biodynamic if available.
- White tea. Among the tea varieties derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, white tea is the least processed and most delicate. The young leaves and buds are harvested for a few weeks each spring, on days that are not humid or rainy. Leaves are allowed to wither in the sun and dry without oxidation, which produces a delicate, fresh-tasting tea. White tea is also thought to have more antioxidants than either green or black tea, which can lead to many health benefits. Choose and brew your own white tea and avoid the heavily-sugared, bottled brands. Also – white tea should be loose, and not in bags. (White tea in bags does not contain buds, and is often made from lower quality “dust’ from mature tea leaves.)
- Green tea. Green tea uses the same new leaves and buds as white tea, but the leaves are plucked, pan-fried or steamed to preserve the green color, then dried to prevent oxidation. Green tea is also super high in antioxidants, and has many proven health benefits. An interesting fact about green tea is that although it contains a similar amount of caffeine as black tea, it also contains a component called “l-theanine” which promotes relaxation and can counteract some of the effects of the caffeine.
- Matcha. Matcha is a finely powdered form of dried green tea leaves that have been specially grown and processed. Matcha contains nearly double the caffeine of green tea (still less than coffee), but it also has higher levels of l-theanine to balance it. We recommend drinking matcha in the earlier hours of the day.
- Kona “peaberry” coffee. If you must drink coffee, DrJ recommends organic shade-grown Kona peaberry coffee roasted the day it is shipped, as mentioned in his “favorite things” blog post.
Finally, there are a few beverages you’ll want to use in moderation or phase out of your diet completely. Since alcohol is dehydrating, if you plan to sip an adult beverage, do so in moderation. Drink an additional glass of water for each adult beverage consumed. Also, you’ll want to avoid sugary drinks of all types, especially those with added sugar.