Friday, May 21, 2010

Medicine of Choice?

One of the most commonly cited reasons for someone to decide NOT to pursue a healthier life is that being healthy is “just too expensive.”  In some respects, I might tend to agree:  organic foods tend to be pricier; the least expensive foods are mostly made from some combination or form of soy and corn which are heavily subsidized by our federal government, making them much cheaper when they hit our grocery store shelves.  But should that be THE determining factor in deciding what makes it into your grocery cart, onto your dining table and into your body? 

I think many of us simply use the “expense” excuse as a cop-out for not wanting to change our ways.  Many of us know things we should do differently to improve our health, yet we just don’t do them.  Before you get indignant and start writing your rebuttal, consider this: there is something that nearly all of us need to consume more of that could help lessen the severity of (and possibly even prevent) the following chronic health problems:

  • ·      Type-2 diabetes
  • ·      Arthritis
  • ·      Asthma
  • ·      Back pain
  • ·      Cataracts
  • ·      Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • ·      Colitis
  • ·      Depression
  • ·      Heartburn
  • ·      High blood pressure
  • ·      High cholesterol
  • ·      Kidney stones
  • ·      Lupus
  • ·      Migraines
  • ·      Multiple sclerosis
  • ·      Muscular dystrophy
If I were alive during the days of the peddlers with wagons full of  “miracle elixirs”, this would be the one to sell.  I’d make a killing from the profits.  What is this “wonder substance”?
 
Water.

Water’s role in the lessening of, if not preventing, a host of health problems becomes obvious when we look at some key functions it plays in our bodies.  When we are injured, our bloodstream carries repair substances to the injury site.  81% of these “repair substance” is water.  Toxic substances are eliminated from our bodies through urine (95% water) and sweat (99% water).  What happens if we don’t have enough water in our systems to perform these functions?  There is a break down in the repair or the clean up.  The “good” stuff can’t get to where it’s needed.  The “bad” stuff can’t get out.  Think that contributes to illness and disease?  I am guessing “yes”.

I realized first-hand, the important role water (or, actually, the lack of) played in my own health nearly two years ago.  It was early summer.  The arthritis in my feet was becoming so painful that I could barely make it through my 3-mile runs.  A mysterious, annoying pain had begun in the padding of the bottom of my feet, making it nearly impossible to stand or walk barefooted for any length of time.  If I would try to walk down the street or cook a meal, my feet would burn and ache for hours afterward.  At night, the weight of the blankets on my bed created unbearable pressure on my arthritic toe joints.  Having parents who suffer from on-going foot problems, I tried to convince myself that this was in my genes and there was no avoiding it.  I was irritable and in constant pain and envisioned years in orthotic shoes (;-), yet I refused to believe that this was going to be my lot in life.

After researching the type of foot pain I was experiencing, I realized that many of my symptoms were compatible with that of gout (who came up with that name, anyway?) – a very unattractive sounding malady.  I could not bring myself to get tested for gout, since this would involve sticking a needle into the affected joints/tissue and drawing out a sampling of fluid to check for the presence of crystals formed by a high concentration of a particular acid.  I skipped over that part, and looked for possible causes and remedies.  One recurring theme began to emerge from the different materials I’d been reading:  causes can include dehydration (as well as eliminating certain foods).  It made sense to me that if there was some kind of fluid with sharp crystals causing pain in the tissue and joints in my feet, diluting it might help there to be less of it.

I realized that my symptoms had increased in severity in coloration with the onset of warmer, more humid weather.  My runs were getting sweatier, yet my meager water in-take had remained the same.  Realizing that adequate hydration caused no harmful side effects, I decided to experiment with myself (now, I am not talking about consuming ridiculously HUGE volumes of water, which can cause death, I am just talking about the proper amount of water which many of us don’t ever come close to consuming). Immediately, I downed a large glass of water and continued to properly hydrate myself over the next several days.  Uncannily, my symptoms subsided in less than a day, and have all but diminished.  I remained skeptical about the effectiveness of this “quick-fix” for over a year, but as I would ease up on my diligence to maintain adequate water intake, my symptoms would return.

I can’t say for certain that I cured myself of gout, because I was never tested for it, HOWEVER, I can say that I cured myself of on-going, debilitating, irritating foot pain, though.  I really don’t care what the thing is called.  What I care about is the fact that it is gone.

Water is one of the cheapest beverages you can get.  It comes out of your faucet for next to nothing.  At restaurants, it is usually the least expensive thing on the menu.  Most of us drink nowhere near the proper amount to keep our bodies functioning smoothly, yet look at the chronic health problems that lack of water contributes to.  Ask nearly anyone if they feel like they are drinking enough water each day and the answer you will get more often than not is, “No”.  42% of us consume 2 glasses or less each day, while 20% of us don’t drink any.  Why is this?

If you are concerned about the quality of the water that comes out of your faucet, consider having your water tested if you can’t get information about your municipal’s water supply.  You might also want to consider filtering your water.  Activated carbon (AC) is the most common type of filter.  There are granulated carbon filters and solid carbon block filters.  Carbon filtration is believed to be fairly effective at removing many substances from water.  Another type of filtration method is reverse osmosis (RO), which some believe to be the best way to purify water.  They remove smaller particles than carbon filters, although the RO units are bulkier and slower (the holding tank has a 1-2 gallon capacity and can take 3-6 hours per gallon to prepare).

How much water should you be aiming for?  Water needs vary by individual based on factors such physical demands and age, but most adults should aim for water intake based on the following formula:
·      Take your body weight and divide it in half.  The number you get is the number in ounces you should aim to drink each day.  For example, if you weighed 100 lbs, you should aim to drink 50 ounces each day.

If you are woefully under that amount, gradually increase your consumption over the course of several days, rather than all in one day.  Your system might be overwhelmed.  Aim to consume the bulk of this water during the morning and early afternoon so that you are not running to the bathroom all night, since adequate sleep is also an inexpensive yet invaluable ingredient when it comes to optimal health.  You might find this much water crowds out room for consuming that extra cup of coffee, mid-morning or that soda with lunch.  If so, all the better.  Think about the money you’re saving!

I challenge you to try this “miracle elixir” and see for yourself if you notice an improvement in any pesky (or more serious) health problems.

If you are curious about other ways to improve your health, contact me for a FREE health consultation.  Email Elly@elementalfit.com or visit my website for more information about the services I offer (www.elementalfit.com)

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