One Simple Change: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
01.30.14 One Simple Change: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
Guest post: We are thrilled to introduce Winnie Abramson, ND for a series of posts excerpted from her book, One Simple Change. Winnie lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley of New York with her family and is passionate about good food and good health. She also shares her wisdom and delicious recipes on her blog HealthyGreenKitchen.com.
My book One Simple Change is a compilation of 50 ways you can transform your diet, adjust your lifestyle, and overhaul your attitude in order to benefit your health and the health of our planet. The book is based on my experiences making changes in my own life; it’s also heavily influenced by what I learned in naturopathic medical school (and practice) and my recommendations are backed by scientific research (the book is heavily referenced).
The book has been out for a couple of months and I really love getting feedback from readers. Not surprisingly, one of the chapters people seem to be resonating with most is the one about drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning. This really is a simple thing to do, but it can be truly be beneficial.
Why drink water first thing in the morning? Our bodies are more than 60 percent water and, unfortunately, this makes us quite prone to dehydration. You can be dehydrated even if you don’t feel thirsty. Having a glass of water first thing and then drinking more throughout the day will help you avoid health issues that may be related to dehydration. Eating foods that contain water (like raw fruits and vegetables) and drinking additional healthy liquids will help as well.
The benefits of drinking water in the morning go beyond the physical, though: I find that having a glass of water right after I wake up makes me feel as if I’ve kicked off the day on the right foot. Since I’ve done something good for myself first thing, I am more likely to continue to make healthy choices as the day goes on.
If you don’t like to drink plain water, then try squeezing some lemon or lime juice into your morning water. I find it easier to drink water that way, and water with citrus has a reputation for being an excellent cleanser. Drinking lemon water with a bit of honey first thing in the morning is an old-time home remedy for weight loss. (An alternative is to drink lemony “spa water”—water in which you’ve also floated berries or cucumber slices and herbs.)
Know that not everyone needs to have eight 8-oz/240-ml glasses of water every day, though. We all have different needs for water intake based on our size, activity level, our climate, etc. I suggest consuming lots of fruits, vegetables, and healthy drinks, and listening to your body. Drink water when you are thirsty, and pay special attention to drinking more when exercising vigorously or spending time outside in heat. It's also a good idea to keep an eye on your urine. When you are properly hydrated, it should be very light yellow (though certain vitamin supplements and vegetables like beets do color your urine, rendering it an unreliable indicator).
Avoid drinking water when what you are is hungry (to fill you up so you won’t eat a lot)- that’s not useful. It may even be harmful. When you are hungry, your body wants food…not water. Not drinking enough water isn’t healthy, but guzzling glass after glass of water when you are not at all thirsty is not exactly a healthy habit, either! You can, indeed, drink too much water, and doing so may be dangerous: when you drink far more water than your body needs over a short period of time, you can dilute the concentration of sodium in your blood.
A final note about water: it’s important that the water you drink- and cook, brush your teeth, and shower with- in the morning and throughout the day should be as pure as possible. Tap water may contain chlorine as well as a variety of contaminants, so consider investing in a water filter. (Also, if you feel strongly about having a filter on your kitchen sink, consider putting one on your showerhead, as well: your skin is your body’s largest organ and, unfortunately, readily absorbs toxins.) You should also be sure to get in the habit of bringing a reusable water bottle with you when you go out (and avoid water bottles that contain BPA, a chemical that can interfere with the balance of hormones in the body and cause damaging health effects).
For many more ways to easily improve your personal (and the planet’s) health, be sure to check out my book One Simple Change!
(Text adapted with permission from One Simple Change by Winnie Abramson. Copyright 2013 by Chronicle Books.)