This article was originally written for the Katy Trail Weekly newspaper.
While studies vary, many experts agree that the average human should be drinking at least half their body weight of pure drinking water, in ounces, daily. (2)
For the average 120 pound female, this equates to roughly 60 ounces of water each day, or 7-8 cups.
However, the same articles also suggest that your daily coffee, and various fluids can also count towards this number. It becomes a bit confusing.
According to the lay press, 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated (1). How can this be when the average American is also known to drink roughly 3 cups of coffee a day (5)?
Americans are chronically dehydrated and it’s not because we are not getting enough fluids. We’re just not hydrating with enough pure drinking water, instead substituting for sports drinks, diet sodas, and more dehydrating fluids, like coffee and alcohol. (1)
The body is made up of roughly 50-70% of water, yet we naturally lose water constantly throughout the day.
Proper hydration is crucial for many reasons: delivering vital nutrients to the cells, lubricating the joints, regulating body temperature and maintaining overall well-being. Even mild dehydration can cause foggy memory, fatigue, irritability, mood swings, overeating, sluggish digestion and a slower metabolism. (1)
What if something as simple as increasing your water consumption prior to lunch could improve your overall well-being? In my private practice, recommending that my client’s drink at least 16 ounces of pure drinking water on, an empty stomach, is one of the first things I aim to implement into their routine and here’s why:
If you consume any sort of stimulating beverage, or even alcohol, you likely have recognized that you are more likely to “feel” the side effects of it entering your bloodstream more rapidly if it has been consumed on an empty stomach. When any liquid is consumed on an empty stomach, especially after a night of “fasting”, it enters the bloodstream more rapidly, bypassing digestion in the stomach.
We are often told that “breakfast is the most important part of the day.” I like to exchange this phrase with: “the first thing we put into the body” may be the most important part of the day. This applies to both hydration and nutrition.
When water is consumed on an empty stomach, it too enters the blood stream rapidly, more quickly reaching the cells than if consumed with food.
Consuming pure water first thing in the morning, also hydrates stagnant and undigested food in the small and large intestines, without adding calories, or irritating the system (3). While coffee can be stimulating to the digestive system for some, it can also be irritating to the smooth human tissue and potentially create inflammation (4). Sugary beverages, or even processed sweeteners can feed bad bacteria in the gut.
By optimizing the digestive process in a non-irritating way, we can flush toxins from the system and more easily shed excess weight, enhance energy levels, reduce inflammation and improve the immune system.
I am not here to rain on coffee’s parade. Enjoy coffee. But first, enjoy get in that water.
While popular tips for staying hydrated, like carrying a refillable water bottle throughout the day, can prove helpful, too much of a fluid consumed with food, even water, may dilute digestive enzymes and compromise the complete and proper digestion of a meal. I recommend hydrating 30 minutes prior to meals and ideally 1-2 hours after, for optimal hydration and benefits. By starting your day with pure water hydration, you are likely to feel more elevated.
I am obsessed with this local Texas water. Read more here.
A great way to kick start a new habit of hydration is to make it part of your morning routine. Try to reach at least a quarter of your goal thirty minutes prior to breakfast, before that first sip of coffee, or tea. Start small and stay consistent. If you are already in a habit of taking supplements before brushing your teeth, commit to consuming two glasses of water before the coffee ever hits the mug. Gradually, work your way up to a comfortable level of hydration.
Ten Day Challenge: Try reaching half of your ideal hydration prior to lunch and take note of your energy levels, digestion and appetite throughout the process. Happy hydrating!
If you are looking for a more customized approach to feeling your best, feel free to send me an email.