Nutritional Therapy:

How can it help?

Human beings can live for days without food but only 48-72 hours without water. Did you know we are made up from two thirds water? So why is water so important for us?

All our cells and organs depend on water for their proper function. Our brains consist of approximately 85% water, our blood 90% and even our bones contain approximately 30% water. In our bodies there is a delicate balance which needs to be maintained between the minerals sodium and potassium – when this is in balance our body functions well and when the balance is not correct problems can start ranging form high blood pressure, fluid retention and so on. So it is important to drink plenty fresh water and avoid excess salt in the diet. Water also the element that extracts nutrients from food and transports them to the bloodstream. So enough water is important for your body to digest and absorb vitamins and minerals. However it is best to avoid drinking large amounts of water with meals as this can interfere with digestion as it dilutes digestive enzymes.

Many people today present at Nutrition clinics are very dehydrated and the effects of dehydration can be enormous. Dehydration causes our cells to shrink and thus retain their toxic wastes, so plenty water helps our body flush out wastes and toxins via our kidneys, liver, intestine and bowel. If we do not get rid of wastes and toxins on a day to day basis we can feel tired, sluggish and toxic. Water is also part of our lymph system, which helps us fight off infections and illness.

Dehydration can cause many symptoms including headaches, constipation, lower back pain, kidney dryness, tension, reduced concentration, fatigue, irritability and even accelerate the ageing process! So boosting our water intake can help relieve fatigue, reduce irritability, improve concentration and also help reduce aching muscles and joints.

We can often mistake thirst for hunger – try a glass of water next time you feel hungry – it may just be that you need to rehydrate your body with fluids not food. Many people who are overweight get thirst and hunger signals confused leading to over eating. Water can also act as an appetite suppressant. And remember that if you become dehydrated the chemical reactions inside your cells involved in fat burning become sluggish.

As well as water itself – preferably bottled or filtered – there are good levels of fluids found in fruit and vegetables, soups, broths and cooked grains such as brown rice. Wheat is actually one of the most dehydrating grains for the body and processed foods contain a lot of salt. Also alcohol, coffee and fizzy drinks can dehydrate the body and cause it to lose water

– so try to cut these down. In practical terms you could try to drink 2 glasses of water per cup of coffee or alcoholic drink.

Also remember that central heating, air conditioning, air travel, exercise and being in a hot country all require us to drink more water. Still water is better than fizzy water as fizzy water is carbonated and has more sodium – keep this to enjoy on evenings out!

If you find drinking plain water boring or tasteless try to add a little fresh lemon or lime juice or sugar free cordial. If you feel that you urinate a lot and the water just goes straight through you add a small amount of non-citrus fruit juice such as apple, pear, cranberry or elderflower to help you absorb the water better. Also if drinking fresh fruit juice you can dilute 1:1 with water to increase your fluids and also herb and green teas can count towards your water intake for the day.

QUICK TIP: A trick to ensure you are drinking your daily allowance is to fill a pitcher or jug with the allotment of water and keep it on your desk at work, or handy at home. The goal is then clearly marked. As you drink down the water, you know that you are on the right path to drinking enough water.

The best indicator that one is drinking enough water is when urine comes out pale yellow to clear. A dark yellow color, however, is a sign your body is dehydrated and is concentrating the urine in an effort to conserve water.

When exercising it is better to drink some water beforehand, as well as during and after, as muscles respond more rapidly and efficiently if they are properly hydrated.

Water is also an important player in pregnancy. The fluid acts as the body’s transportation system, and carries nutrients through the blood to the baby. Also, flushing out the system and diluting urine with water prevents urinary tract infections, which are common in pregnancy.

Dehydration in pregnant women can be very serious. Hormones (yes those lovely hormones!) change the way women store water during pregnancy, so they begin to retain water, and drinking plenty of water combats that. Much of that water is used in the amniotic sack. Amniotic fluid alone needs to replenish itself every hour by using roughly a cup of water stored in the body. Replacing that water will insure the unborn baby is protected within the womb.