You might think this is a blog post about alcohol. It's not. It's about what we drink (and what we don't drink) every day. I have been living in Berlin for around a year now and one thing that still amazes me is the huge variety of non-alcoholic drinks you can find in this country. There are literally 'drink stores', full of fizzy drinks, colorful colas and all types of juice mixtures on top of the standard beer and wine. Yes, a whole store dedicated just to that.
Since becoming a certified health coach, I've noticed how many of my clients drink little water but many other sugary drinks instead, with the "healthiest" one being fruit juice.
100% freshly-squeezed fruit juice is actually a good source of nutrients like vitamin C and potassium. The problem with fruit juice is that it can also be an extra source of sugar. Even though it contains the word "fruit", it is missing a lot of the stuff that makes whole fruit healthy: it doesn't contain the same fiber and phytonutrients that raw fruits have. Orange juice, for example, does contain Vitamin C, is a decent source of folate, potassium and antioxidants. But calorie for calorie (or sugar gram for sugar gram), it is nutritionally poor compared to whole oranges and other plant foods like vegetables. Not convinced?
A coca cola bottle contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, while the same amount of apple juice contains 9.8 teaspoons.
In small quantities, juice is of course OK to consume. But as you can see, it's not a great idea to make it your go-to hydration drink.
The best thing you can give your body is simply water. Tap water is free, and even if you're living in a country where tap water doesn't taste good, bottled water is still cheaper than any other drink. I personally avoid buying plastic water bottles not only for the environment but also because you never know if that bottle was heated in any way, releasing toxins in the water you're consuming.
But let's look at why drinking water is so important. First of all your body is 60 percent water, so it makes sense that if you don't get enough you're going to be in trouble. Here are some more facts:
- Water lubricates the joints. Cartilage, found in joints and the disks of the spine, contains around 80 percent water. Long-term dehydration can reduce the joints' shock-absorbing ability, leading to joint pain.
- Dehydration can make the skin more vulnerable to skin disorders and premature wrinkling. You can invest in one of those anti-aging miracle skin creams, or you can boost your water intake.
- The digestive system depends on water. The bowel needs water to work properly. Dehydration can lead to digestive problems, constipation, and an overly acidic stomach. This increases the risk of heartburn and stomach ulcers.
- Water increases energy and relieves fatigue: Since your brain is mostly water, drinking it helps you think, focus and concentrate better and be more alert.
- Water helps prevent headaches and improves your mood. This is especially true after exercise. According to a study, lack of hydration can lead to poor mood and increase headache frequency. Another study showed that just 1.59% loss of bodily fluid led to higher levels of anxiety and fatigue. Children's cognitive performance can be affected too.
Here are some reasons why clients say they aren't drinking enough water:
1. They are not thirsty. I have experienced this myself - I was doing intense sports without drinking much water but I hardly ever felt thirsty (don't ask me about my mood, energy levels or my joint pain though). As soon as I started drinking more, my body started sending me thirst signals again. It's as if the mechanism was broken and it needed some kind of reactivation. All of the people I have worked with have had similar experiences.
2. They forget. Of course they do! Everyday stress doesn't leave us time to think, and drinking water just doesn't seem like a priority. I work with clients to help them find strategies to integrate water intake with other activities, such as for example having a sip every time they go to the toilet, or every time the phone rings. Having a reusable bottle in your bag is also a great idea.
3. They don't want the inconvenience of needing to use the bathroom. Yes, I've heard this by more than one person, especially older men. It might be inconvenient, but health issues, I'm sure you would agree, are a far bigger inconvenience than having to take breaks more often to use the bathroom.
4. They don't like the taste (or rather the lack of taste). You can add a few drops of citrus fruit or even some syrup to start with, reducing the quantities as you go along.
Give it a try. If you don't drink any water, try to drink a glass every day in the morning and notice how you're feeling. Slowly try to increase your intake. Look at your skin, your headaches, your overall mood. It's such a simple "trick", it's free and it can honestly make a huge difference. Leave those sugary drinks, including juice, as a special treat instead.
Image by bridgesward from Pixabay
This website is for information purposes only. By providing the information contained herein we are not diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before beginning any type of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regimen, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.