Reduce Stress with Proper Hydration

“There’s a science behind great health, but being healthy isn’t rocket science.”
– Nicole Porter –

I say these words often because the human body is, in fact, complicated. There is an intricate science behind how our body works, yet getting healthy, and staying healthy doesn’t need to be complicated.

I have many objectives in my programs, but generally speaking, there are the 3 key goals:

  1. to simplify wellness: to empower you with the knowledge you need to better understand your body and therefore, to feel confident when speaking with health care providers and your own family about your personal health and wellness.
  2. to teach you how to reduce stress on your body by helping you identify and rectify daily unhealthy habits.
  3. to help you listen to and trust your body, so you know when things aren’t quite right.

The outcome, you will finally feel in control of your health. Let’s do this!

STRESS IS ANYTHING THAT MAKES YOUR BODY WORK OVERTIME

Things that can make your body work overtime:

Traffic jams
School dropoffs
Dumping coffee in your lap
Losing your phone
Teenagers
PTA meetings
News media
Idiots
Punishing workouts
Snapchat filters
Screentime
FOMO
Lack of sleep
Lack of exercise
3pm sugar craving
Dehydration
Punishing workouts
Yo-yo dieting
Missing meals

And all of this turmoil is just 1 out of 365 days in a year. Here’s what everyone needs to know prior to getting their stress load under control:

  1. Whether you are in a panic to get to a meeting, or haven’t had a sip of water in 12 hours, our body triggers the exact same stress response, albeit it to varying degrees.
  2. Stress isn’t all bad. Short term stress can help you focus, and accomplish multiple tasks in a short timeframe. Chronic stress, however, can halt performance altogether, preventing major systems (digestive, reproductive, nervous, immune, endocrine and more) from performing at their best, which can lead to many negative health side effects.
  3. Reducing chronic stress gives your internal systems a chance to recover, retain balance, and function as they should.

HYDRATE TO STAY GREAT (YOUR CELLS WILL THANK YOU)

The average human body is made up of 100 trillion cells, 60% of which are water. Critical organs like the brain and heart are over 70% water, the lungs over 80% water. Simply put, your cells need water for them to function optimally.

“Externally, our bodies have a way of letting us know when we’re dehydrated – chapped lips, cracked skin, dry skin, mouth and eyes. Internally, water is involved in almost every bodily function, impacting sleep, digestion, hormone balance, metabolism, and your ability to absorb minerals and nutrients from food.”

All of these incredibly important systems require water, and when you are drinking enough of it, you often look and feel great. When you’re not, you’re less likely to feel awesome because…

DEHYDRATION PUTS STRESS ON THE BODY

If you didn’t have reliable internet access at your office everyday, would it make it harder for you to do your job? Does falling behind at work make you feel stressed out? This is how every cell in your body feels if it doesn’t have enough water, especially if it’s an everyday thing.

When you deprive your cells of the water, your body is forced to compensate for the imbalance somehow. It does this by activating The Stress Response in order to help you regain balance of internal systems.

EXTERNAL SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION

Below are just a few outward signs you are dry inside:

  • Dry/leathery skin, eyes, mouth, lips, nasal membranes. Since your body is mostly water, it’s easy to understand why drinking too little can affect the areas of your body that require some level of moisture.
  • Weight Gain. When cortisol increases, it impacts hormones such as testosterone, which impairs muscle mass production, which impairs metabolism. 
  • Constipation. Elimination (the process of eliminating toxins via bowel movements) requires water and works best when you are sufficiently hydrated. 
  • Joint pain. Between most of your joints and cartilage is a gel-like fluid called synovial fluid. This fluid is almost 60% water. If you’re dehydrated, the production of synovial fluid is reduced which increases pain and friction between the joints and even deterioration of cartilage. 
  • Overeating. Hunger, is that you again already? Your body can give you mixed signals making it hard to distinguish between thirst and hunger. This is why so often people think they’re hungry when they’re actually thirsty.  
  • Headaches. As you know, your brain needs water. When you’re not hydrated, your brain can shrink, less oxygen may be carried to the brain, blood vessels may experience unwanted pressure, all of which can contribute to a headache. For me, a dehydration headache is usually felt in the temple on one side of my head, but some people may experience more intense symptoms like nausea or an aura, perhaps similar to a migraine.
  • Chronic health problems: arthritis, back pain, kidney stones, cataracts, heartburn, depression, and more
  • Fatigue. Lack of energy is one of the top 5 reasons people visit me. And although other factors can be at play, improved hydration will often improve energy levels, even just a little.

Learn more: How Dehydration Can Impact Fatigue

Learn more: Tips to Hit Your Water Targets

If this doesn’t make you thirsty, the internal signs of dehydration👇🏻 may have you  reaching for your glass.

INTERNAL SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION

The Stress Response impacts the nervous system and multiple hormones, which, if chronically out of balance, will force your body to work overtime and make sacrifices with other systems in order to find the balance it needs to keep you thriving. Common side effects can be:

Increased:

  • cortisol (linked to increased body fat, decreased brain function, heart disease, high blood pressure)
  • adrenaline (increases heart rate and, blood pressure)
  • estrogen (an imbalance can contribute to breast/ovarian cysts, PMS)
  • thyroid stimulating hormone (responsible for metabolism, weight, body temperature)
  • insulin (insulin must be secreted to combat the rise in blood sugar that is caused by stress)
  • inflammation (inflammation can truly be linked to any disease)

Decreased:

  • testosterone (sex drive, muscle mass, metabolism)
  • progesterone (menstruation and, fertility)
  • DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone is an anti-aging hormone)
  • GH, growth hormone (bone, muscle, metabolism)
  • calcitonin (calcium levels, bone)
  • cognitive function (memory, focus, mood)
  • metabolic rate (weight, muscle mass, body temperature)

Other Systems and Processes Affected:

  • Alterations in brain chemistry involving dopamine and serotonin (depression, anxiety, memory, concentration)
  • Compromised digestion
  • Compromised fertility
  • Weakened immunity
  • Inability of body to transport nutrients and fluids to your cells and flush out toxins
  • Reduced ability to rest and recover

👩‍🏫 Think you know stress? Test your stress smarts by taking the What’s Your Hidden Stress Score Quiz.

By Nicole Porter
Nicole Porter is a Stress Coach and Wellness Educator helping busy, stressed out professionals mindfully overcome the Top 10 Unhealthy Habits preventing optimal health, mindset and productivity. She is also a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Registered Nutritional Therapist, Healthy Weight Loss Coach, and Pilates Coach with a background in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Behaviour Change.

Nicole Porter Wellness

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