Hydration and Health: Eastern Medicine and Hydration
Healthy Living Blog By Dr. Rachelle DAOM,L,Ac
We all are aware of the significance of drinking 6 to 8 glasses of clean water daily to ensure adequate hydration. This allows the immune system to function optimally, replenishing lost fluid from daily activity and cleaning out toxins in the body. Our bodies rely on this hydration to deliver nutrients to each organ, improve proper lymphatic drainage, and even help regulate body temperature. When hydration lags, headaches can occur, bowel function becomes affected, and even sleep and mood can be disrupted. Proper fluid intake nourishes every cell in our body and keeps our joints lubricated as well. However, let’s go one step beyond this and see how true hydration enhances every part of our being. Water is a necessity and lays the foundation for health but true hydration also starts with nourishing food choices and overall replenishing care to not rob the body of precious fluids to ward off premature aging and disease.
In the clinic, there are many disorders that are seen with dryness as the underlying root cause. Symptoms can range from weakness, dryness, and a lack of elasticity of the tissues. Stomach and lung yin deficiencies are often seen with signs of thirst and dryness. Many gastrointestinal disorders reveal dryness of the mouth, duodenal ulcers, gastritis, and constipation and dry stools. Autoimmune disorders like Sjogrens’s syndrome often display dry eyes and mouth. Even more commonly, lung disorders are often the result of the lack of nourishing fluids in the body. These can range from chronic bronchitis, laryngitis, and post-infective cough. With The main goal for this lack of hydration is to nourishing the lung and stomach yin, replenish body fluids, and harmonizing the middle jiao.
Hydrating the body optimally is done by drinking adequate amounts of clean water and also by choosing hydrating foods to nourish the body and immune system. This can be done by incorporating many fruits, vegetables, and good fats into our daily regimen. Fats are essential for the proper functioning of both mind (brain) and body. Many vitamins like A, D, E, and K are fat soluble so a diet rich in good fats will greatly improve the absorption these nutrients. Good fats should be used daily such as nuts and seeds and nut butters. These may include flax, chia, coconut, pine nuts, walnuts, sesame, almonds, and pumpkin. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of potassium, iron, phosphorus, riboflavin, and thiamin and Brazilian nuts (my favorite) are chock full of calcium, manganese, selenium, and even zinc. Chia and flax seed as with nuts in general are also great protein sources. Other great sources include oily fish and avocado. Avoiding too much caffeine, energy drinks, meat, and alcohol is also needed to keep the body replenished.
It is important to get good sources of both Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6. Omega 3 fatty acids tend to be harder for most people to get adequate amounts of. These include the cold water fish like the mackerel, sardines, salmon, albacore tuna, and even lake trout. Other Omega-3s would include flax seed or flaxseed oil, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in soybean, corn, black currant, and many others. Bad fats include the trans fat, processed vegetable oils like soy, canola, etc, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Healthy foods which contain saturated fats include coconut oil, cultured dairy, organic, free-range red meat, palm oil, and organic butter. These fats can also provide important nutrition for the body especially crucial for initial brain development and to maintain good cellular structure.
Instead of using processed vegetable oils, substitute with coconut, olive oil, or palm oil. Avoid margarine and other hydrogenated oil and use organic butter or coconut oil instead.
Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants and essential vitamins to keep our cells healthy and hydrated. We know that blueberries, kale, spinach, and cherries have some of the highest antioxidants. The most hydrating foods are watermelon, cucumber, lettuce, cabbage, tomato, and celery and a multitude of other fruits and veggies. It is good to buy organic when possible to avoid pesticide residue. Other fluids besides water to replenish the body is fresh organic juices, coconut water, and herbal teas.
Signs of dehydration are not only dry mouth but also muscle cramps, heart palpitations, weakness or fatigue, headaches, lack of tears or sweating, and even lightheadedness. But before we even get to this point, the immune system can be affected making us more vulnerable to sickness. We lose water just by the process of breathing as humidified air leaves the body, also through urination and bowel movements, and by sweating. If dehydration becomes too extreme, intravenous fluids are needed. Severe dehydration creates kidney failure, coma, or shock. Electrolyte imbalance is seen with sodium, potassium, chloride, and even carbon dioxide levels. An elevation of hemoglobin and red blood cells may be noted on laboratory tests due to the concentration from water loss.
A wonderful hydrating smoothie known as the antiaging elixir was given by Dr. Gary Null in Power Foods which I highly recommend. It consists of lots of hydrating produce like blueberries, grapes, watermelon, zucchini, and tomato which all gets processed through the juicer. Then add a cup of spring water and protein powder. Dr. Null suggests adding supplements like L-carnosine 500 mg, ginkgo biloba 100mg, glutathione 100mg, and 100 mg phosphatidylserine for a boost. These can all be added by releasing the capsules directly into the smoothie mixture and blended well. Carnosine acts as an anti-aging amino acid and can also help with nerve damage. Ginkgo biloba is known for its cognitive functions. Glutathione also reduces oxidative stress with is the main cause of aging and many conditions. Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid which helps form the cell membrane and helps prevent cell death. It is a fatty substance found naturally in the body and is normally abundant in the nervous system. But overall, this is an amazing nourishing hydrating smoothie just in time for the summertime! Call today to start your journey to optimal health and remember hydration consists of more than adequate water amounts. 772-626-6419