This post is from contributing writer Mary Voogt of Just Take A Bite.
Get up. Shower. Get dressed. Put on makeup.
And fill my water bottle. That was me.
Then remind myself periodically throughout the day to take a drink. Refill and repeat. Keep track of how much I drink. Make sure I’m getting my eight glasses at a minimum.
At the same time I was getting up super early every day to have time to get things done, nursing a little one full time, exercising every day, running my own business and following the GAPS diet. All good things, right?
Not So Good.
I quickly became more and more fatigued. My weight started going up. And my body temperature (along with my metabolism) plummeted. As in I’m not even sure how I was functioning. At times my temperature was 92 or 93 degrees Fahrenheit. Some evenings I could barely walk up the stairs carrying my son because my muscles were so weak.
I thought I was doing all the “right” things. But my health was quickly declining. Something had to give. But what?
I did two simple things to turn it around.
- Stop eating grain free/ditch the GAPS diet.
- Stop drinking so much water.
Wait, what? Adding grains and drinking less water made me healthier? You bet! And I’ve never looked back.
Be Healthy To Eat Healthy.
The thing is you have to be healthy to eat healthy. Confused yet?
The majority of our society is not healthy. Whether you are eating a standard American diet full of processed foods or living a fast-paced life full of stress or simply not getting enough sleep it has a big impact on how you feel and function. Yes, even spending all your time making homemade food and caring for your family can leave you exhausted and unhealthy.
With that comes poor metabolic health, poor adrenal health, imbalanced hormones and overall inflammation in the body.
In turn digestion is impaired – which means all of those healthy foods are actually harder to digest and your body struggles to absorb the vitamins and minerals you are getting. I often joke that I’d eat a Paleo diet if I was healthy enough for it. But years of not taking care of myself properly have left me with a long uphill battle to full health. Ever since doing GAPS I can’t eat a single nut or seed without extreme pain. No fibrous fruits or veggies. No beans. It stinks.
But back to my second point – water.
One of the best things I ever did for my health was to stop drinking so much water.
When you are in a run-down state drinking water will just make it worse. It will actually flush out the few vitamins and minerals you are getting. It leaves you more dehydrated than ever.
Did you know there really is no science behind the whole eight glasses theory?
It’s kind of arbitrary. And silly if you ask me. We all have unique bodies with different needs. How can Joe, Fred and Tina all need the same amount of water (even if you use the ?
The whole “drink before you feel thirsty” idea – nonsense. God is a pretty good designer. He created our bodies to know when they need fluids. If you are thirsty, take a drink. If you’re not, don’t. It’s quite simple. Kind of like the whole “if you are hungry try drinking water first because you might actually be thirsty” thing. No, if you’re hungry, eat.
As you get healthier you will be able to tolerate more water. And you will probably need more water. But if your metabolism and adrenals are not running at full speed, forcing yourself to drink water will only make things worse.
Take for example the sloth. The mammal with the slowest metabolism. It sleeps about fifteen hours a day (slow metabolism = low energy). The rest of the time it eats. And it moves very slowly. Get this… it does not drink ANY water. NONE. (In case you’re wondering I just happened to finish studying sloths with my eight year old a week ago.)
A sloth gets enough water to support its metabolism just from the fruits and vegetables it eats. Because it doesn’t need that much!
Guess what? If your metabolism is running really slowly you can too. Check out how much water is in one zucchini. If you are eating your fruits and veggies every day you are already getting a lot of water in your diet.
Want To Know Another Secret?
Your urine should not be clear. For real. It should have a some color to it. And you shouldn’t have to use the bathroom every 1 – 2 hours. It goes back to that whole flushing out your vitamins and minerals thing. If you’re in the bathroom all the time with clear urine you’re drinking too much water. And you’re not doing yourself any favors.
My eight-year old is a prime example of how you should listen to your body. She has been a mouth breather for many years. Which led to poor sleep. Which led to a lowered metabolism and lowered adrenal function. Yes, it can even happen to kids!
Can you guess what she rarely does?
She always reaches for a glass of raw milk if she is thirsty. She always has. I can give her a water bottle at the start of the day. By the end of the day she’s taken a few sips. When she was attending school (we’re venturing into home schooling this year) I’d send a water bottle each day. She’d come home with it totally full. But her milk was gone.
We’ve been doing orthodontic work for a year and a half now to help correct the mouth breathing. And her sleep and health are slowly improving. She can tolerate a little more water now. But she still prefers milk. And she still has a ways to go. We are still trying to get her body temp out of the 97’s.
My other two kids have dairy and nut allergies. They don’t use any kind of milk substitute. So they do get water in their cups. But I usually don’t just give plain water. I add unrefined sea salt full of minerals. Sometimes I add some herb drops. Other times I add molasses which is also packed with minerals.
But don’t our bodies need water?
Absolutely! But not 64 oz. of plain water every day. Here are some tips for staying hydrated without having to over think it.
- Drink when you are thirsty. Don’t when you’re not.
- Add salt to plain water to help your body absorb the fluids and minerals.
- Skip plain coffee and tea. They have the same effect as water. If you like to drink them add some salt and milk or sugar. Don’t forget coffee and tea do count towards your total fluid intake. But you’ll have to experiment since everyone tolerates them differently. Coffee and tea are diuretics, so they could cause problems for some. It’s best to stick to caffeine free.
- Drink raw milk, coconut milk, almond milk, etc. to quench thirst.
- Try molasses tonic or healing hot cocoa (I drink the molasses tonic every morning!).
- Drink homemade pink lemonade or a homemade electrolyte drink to quench thirst or rehydrate.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that your body tolerates. They naturally contain a lot of water.
The Weight Factor.
What does all of this have to do with gaining weight? Well, the more water you drink the more you lower an already damaged metabolism. The lower your metabolism the less energy you have. If your body can’t produce its own energy then it needs to get energy from somewhere else. And where is that?
You guessed it – food!
The lower your metabolism the more you need to eat to have enough energy to function.
In other words, the more water you chug, the more you’ll need to eat to compensate. And nine times out of ten you’re going to want to reach for something starchy and salty or sweet. Quick fuel is what a run down body craves.
Is This For Real?
Maybe you’re still not so sure about all this. Facts are great. But I think evidence is better.
In 2011 I had been through many rounds of fertility treatments, had been on the GAPS diet for a year, wasn’t getting enough sleep, was nursing a toddler – the list could go on.
My hormones were the same as those of a tweleve-year old girl (no exaggeration, I had them tested – no wonder I was infertile!). I had no energy. My body temperature was 92/93 degrees F. I had a host of food intolerances. My weight kept creeping up. I just felt rotten.
So I did a 24 hour saliva cortisol test. My cortisol was off the charts high in the morning. And then it was going up at bedtime instead of down. Basically my metabolism and adrenals were shot.
Now, five years later I have a two year old that was conceived naturally. At my last check up a few weeks ago my body temperature was 98.6 degrees F on the dot. I have a lot more energy and actually want to exercise instead of trying to force myself to do it. I can eat foods that I used to react to and my skin looks so much better than it used to.
Just to really see how I was doing I did another 24 hour saliva cortisol test. Now my morning levels are just barely out of the normal range and the rest of the day they are totally normal and follow the correct pattern.
In my doctor’s words: “This chart looks so much better. I wouldn’t worry about that morning level. It’s so close. Whatever you’ve been doing keep doing it!”
Keep It Simple.
Water is great. We all need some. But what we don’t need is to start the day guzzling a big glass and forcing more down the rest of the day. The healthier you are the more plain water you’ll be able to tolerate (you’ll likely notice an increase in thirst too as your body temperature rises!). And you’ll figure out how much your body needs. Not some arbitrary guideline. It changes every day!
Stay hydrated without forcing yourself to drink water. Set the water bottle aside. Instead keep an empty cup and some real salt on hand near the sink. When you feel thirsty, go ahead and get a drink.
Give it a try. You might be surprised by how much more energy you have and how much less hungry you are.
Sources – more detailed information on the topic of water intake:
- No, you do not have to drink 8 glasses of water a day
- You don’t need 8 glasses of water a day
- 8 glasses water myth
- Everything you know about hydration is probably wrong
- Clear urine
- What the color of pee says about your health
- Mayo clinic: Urine color
- Cleveland clinic: What the color of your urine says about you
- Is clear urine healthy?
Looking for more information on this topic? Check out these other great posts from my colleagues:
- 7 Healthy Habits That Are Stressing Your Metabolism
- 5 Ways I Ruined My Metabolism
- Stressed Sick And Tired? How To Nourish Your Metabolism Back To Health
- How Much Water Should You Drink?
- Why vegans are typically so cold
- 8 Signs your metabolism is in danger
- 10 simple tricks to raise your metabolism
If you want to hear more about my story, I shared my journey in these two posts: