09 November 2016

November is upon us, which means the next few months will be full of cocktail parties, holiday celebrations, family gatherings and bottomless boozing and consuming. We will tackle that challenge to our waistline in some time, but for now I want to bring your attention to another joy (sarcasm) of the fall-winter transitional months – dryness. Almost every client I see complains that their skin feels dry, their lips are cracking, and they feel like they are in a constant state of dehydration. Some pessimists even argue that this fate is inevitable, and they will reboot and refresh once Spring rolls around. Not on my clock. The changing seasons happen every year – we shouldn’t have to make such a big sacrifice to our overall well-being on an annual basis.

This leads me to my favorite question: WHY? Why is ‘staying well hydrated’ one of those blanket recommendations that seems to be so important?

The answer is fairly simple. Water constitutes 60% of our body by weight. As a result, every organ system in our body utilizes water to function properly. If we are dehydrated for a few hours during the day, then our bodies are performing less than optimally during that time. Extrapolate that level of dehydration to many months of the year and we are really doing our body a disservice.

Have you recently been feeling hungrier? More tired? Achy? Skin looking dull? Having new digestive issues? Circulation problems? All of these symptoms may be associated with your hydration status. To review: water is necessary for the homeostasis (balance) of all our bodily systems. If we don’t make sure to drink up (sorry, alcohol not included), then we experience many more physiological signs warning us to increase our fluid intake.

Now, WHAT do I mean by stay hydrated?

You should never allow yourself to feel thirsty. By the time you feel thirsty, your body has already reached a state of dehydration.

There is no substitute for meticulously following a customized home care regimen to nourish your skin from the outside in.  Staying hydrated and following a topical skincare routine is the gold standard for dealing with your skin health. But HOW might one avoid dehydration and the effects it has on the rest of our body from the inside out?

Step 1: BYOWB – bring your own water bottle

Step 2: Fill it up with water and make sure to drink at least 8 oz.  (1 cup) per hour. If you don’t like the idea of drinking that much water, get creative. Infuse some flavor into your daily dose by adding in a few sprigs of mint and lemon.

Step 3: Check in with yourself. Are you thinking clearly? Are you feeling good? Not sure….. double check yourself by evaluating the color of your pee (technical term). Light and clear is what we want.

Step 4: Are there certain elements of your day that may increase your usual fluid requirements? Traveling by plane is a good example of this. Dining outside the home where there are many hidden sources of salt in your food is another hydrating terror.  And of course, exercise. On average, one should drink 16-24 oz. for each hour of intense physical activity. Go in to your workout well-hydrated and continue to drink post crushing it at the gym. Keep up the good work!

Step 5: Consume a diet that synergistically works to help your body retain the moisture and hydration with which you are so kindly providing it. Fresh out of ideas? Read here to learn more about hydrating foods.

Finally, I would like to point out that hydration is no different than diet when it comes to individual variability between people. The generic recommendation is to drink 10-12 cups of water per day, but many people need much more than that to reach individual hydration goals, particularly in the cold, dry season ahead of us. Use my simple steps as your guide and make this rule your own, keeping in mind that 8 cups of water/day is the bare minimum. No pressure. I won’t be mad, just disappointed.