New research is proving what a powerful effect our mind can have over our physical health. Are you thinking yourself to health or the opposite?
There’s more water than any other substance in our bodies. We have all heard the statistic that human bodies contain up to 70% water, but really this is pretty inaccurate and depends on variables like how much fat is on your body, how old you are and whether you are male or female. But to put it into perspective, bone which is the driest body part still contains around 30% water.
Oxygen is our number one most critical substance for survival but we tend to forget that humans can only live a couple of days without water compared to many weeks with no food. There are countless headlines devoted to food, yet drinking more pure clean water is rarely discussed. It’s common for many people to drink no pure water and subsist on only tea, coffee, soda and juices. Yes, these beverages contain water but they can also be dehydrating.
Is water the number one most common deficiency?
Natural whole foods have a large percentage of water. Fruits, vegetables, meats. But the modern diet of highly processed foods has been completely stripped of all water to be shelf stable and are very hard to eat without some liquid. These dry foods will draw water out from the body to become more digestible.
Water is used as a medium in our body to transport nutrients, hormones and chemical messengers to organs, tissues and cells. It fills the volume inside of our cells and outside our cells.
Our entire GI tract relies on mucus to lubricate it and protect it from corrosive enzymes, acid and alkaline substances. Mucous substances are composed of 98% water so it’s no surprise that dehydration can cause digestive issues. If mucus dries out due to body dehydration it wouldn't be able to protect delicate tissue from corrosive substances. Water is also needed for all digestive juices including bile and stomach acid, these can dry up if not enough water is present.
Water is also used to cushion bones and joints, regulates body temperature, flushes toxins, maintains electrical properties of cells and much more.
Are we only really thirsty when our mouth is dry?
Our body in a dehydrated state may still prioritise some water for saliva to keep the mouth moist for digestion. So it is misleading to think that we are only thirsty if our mouth is dry, by the time saliva dries up completely we are probably severely dehydrated.
The thirst sensation begins to gradually fail if we are chronically under consuming water. Once I upped my water intake it became obvious that I was thirsty the whole time but didn't register because the sensation came back.
Some common signs of dehydration:
Some signs of chronic dehydration:
Are you drinking enough water?
The best way to know is to track your water intake. Get a bottle and count how many times you drink it daily, most people are surprised that they have been overestimating how much water they actually drink. There are many theories about how much water to drink, but it’s recommended to not exceed one gallon (3.7L) a day because you could be losing minerals and electrolytes. Aim for around 2L and adjust for more if it’s hot or you’re exercising. Once you start drinking more water your natural thirst response will come back and you will crave drinking pure water daily.
Meditation, oil-pulling, yoga, walking, time in the sun, essential oils, reading, foam rolling, green juices, dry brushing, 10,000 steps, long baths, candles, crystals, self-improvement, all of it.
The overwhelm of trying to do all the things that are good for us could be our undoing. Sometimes the stress and anxiety caused by trying to get it all perfectly right can be more detrimental than not even trying to do those things in the first place.
Nothing can bring you peace but yourself - Ralph Waldo Emerson
We hear about all the things we “should” be doing. Doing for us, for our health, for our family. But who has all that time? It’s a full-time job to get all of those things done. It’s no surprise that research has been published showing that we associate business with success. Many of us tend towards the perfectionist side and when we lapse on all of the things we want to get done, we tend to feel guilty and beat ourselves up.
Social media does not help here, it looks like everyone is getting it all done except for me!
I love this idea of listing out your weekly self-care non-negotiables here (be realistic!) and ticking them off as you do them. Next week start again. The Minimalists get it right in this blog post. I love their work and this is a great simple explanation on how to make sure you are devoting time to yourself each week.
But the key as always is balance let’s not be so hard on ourselves if we didn't get it done. Relax with the step counting, biohacking, measuring our self-improvement from time to time.
Every day do something that brings you one step close to your goals.
So many new services for allergy and food sensitivity testing are out there right now, pin-prick blood tests that can be mailed in from home are being marketed to us through advertising and sponsored social media posts.
A true allergy can only be to a protein, a sensitivity can be to anything.
Many people get their test back and see that they are allergic to many common foods, specifically foods they eat on a daily basis. Does this mean you can never have those foods again? Just cut them all out and carry on with life?
Being sensitive to foods that are being eaten frequently indicates a leaky gut. The wall of the intestines is our barrier between inside the body and the outside world, in some places, this barrier is one cell thick. A leaky gut happens when the cell membrane becomes permeable, small gaps form between cells where they used to be tightly joined. Anything floating around in the intestines can drift through these small openings with no regulation from the body. These undigested particles enter the bloodstream and the body's immune system reacts to these foreign invaders.
So let’s say you eat chicken, coffee and bananas almost every day. These are the things that will most frequently make it through the small gaps in the intestine and set off your immune system. If we just remove the three foods that were flagged as sensitivities but don’t heal the intestines a short while later your sensitivities will just change to whatever you replaced those foods with.
Heal leaky gut
Remove the items that were flagged as sensitivities, for now. These can be added back in one at a time after going through the below steps successfully.
Support digestion by making sure you have adequate stomach acid, digestive enzymes, gallbladder function. Ginger and apple cider vinegar are two gentle options for digestive support. If you have candida overgrowth which can cause leaky gut, you may need to take something additional like oil of oregano. Enzymedica is my personal favourite for digestive enzymes.
Add in probiotics to add back in healthy bacteria, supplement quality is key here because there are countless probiotic supplements out there and not all are great. Here is one I recommend but there are other practitioner options too. Incorporate fermented foods like cultured vegetables and kefir or yoghurt if you tolerate dairy.
Support your body to heal the intestinal lining. A diet of whole properly prepared foods is key here, soups and stews based on bone broth are calming, warming and healing to the body. Bone broth contains collagen that can help to heal the intestinal lining. The amino acid L-glutamine, marshmallow root can help soothe and repair the lining.
Be positive and know that your body only wants to be healthy, it's perfectly capable of healing itself!
Personally what I’ve experienced to be the biggest roadblock for lasting lifestyle changes seems to be habits. We form them without realising it and now they control what drink we choose at the cafe, what groceries we put into our basket without even thinking, what restaurants we default to for a dinner out and even what we order.
Lasting Healthy Habits
Habits are when our behaviours become automatic. Our brains are constantly looking for shortcuts, and these automatic behaviours are a big way of cutting corners on having to think too much. This is how bad habits also form, our mind reverts to the easier default response no matter how bad it is for us. Breaking bad habits can be more successful if it is changed or replaced with something else.
One habit I was happy to make was flossing my teeth every night. It seems trivial but when I was younger I rarely flossed. While growing up, the health of my teeth was not the best. I made a personal decision to improve this. Driven by how expensive the dentist can be, how irreversible tooth damage is and how a bad set of teeth can actually impact on the overall health of the rest of my body. Now years later I rarely think about flossing each night, it gets done just the same as brushing.
Replace bad habits with new behaviours
Creating good new healthy habits can take a little effort but once it's set it won't require much thought. I made a habit out of drinking a powdered greens drink every morning before having coffee, breakfast or anything else and I stuck with it for years. I formed a habit of drinking black coffee and liking it. I formed habits of default go-to meals being salads or big one pan meat and vegetable dinners.
I figured the best way to form a new habit was to acknowledge exactly what I wanted my new behaviour to be. Then to do it every day or the specific days until it becomes the default. Trying to change more than one behaviour is hard for me, too many balls in the air. Another thing that helps is associating a particular behaviour with something else. Like waking up and taking a supplement every morning. Or flossing every night after brushing. Both I associated and included into existing routines I have going on.
One roadblock can be routine changes. When I quit my job I stopped drinking my green drink every morning. The organization of my mornings were askew and I no longer stuck to my old routine. Another time I ran out of a specific supplement and didn’t get more for a couple of months when it arrived it sat lonely and unopened as I was out of the habit of taking it every morning.
Build Good Habits
The joy with habits is that years later, I realised a majority of my daily positive lifestyle choices were not choices anymore, just habits. For example; it isn't hard to get back to my normal eating after a holiday because it’s become so routine. The key here is time, bad habits were not formed in a day, so adding positive habits won’t happen overnight either. But it is encouraging to know that good habits become part of my life, all I need is time.