The power of water

Optimal hydration is essential to a high-performing body. Our latest nutritional pillar - Increase Intake of Water and Healthy Fluids - has you covered.

The Equinox Nutrition Philosophyis comprised of 12 fundamental nutritional pillars, all of which support the health of your cells, and thus increase your body’s overall energy capabilities while decreasing acidity and inflammation. The result: A younger, healthier (and we bet, happier) you with a metabolic system that hums. We'll walk you through one pillar monthly and provide two recipes to help you put it into practice. Here, the eighth:

Ever see a flower wither once its water supply dries up? It crumples inward and turns brown, losing its resilience and vitality in the process. Well, your body is as reliant on water as said plant. In fact, you’re about 60% water. So imagine how dehydration affects you. Bet you’re withering at the thought.

Good, because dehydration is serious stuff. It indicates that the body doesn’t have enough water to carry out its processes. Even mild dehydration can lead to lethargy and compromise athletic performance. On the other hand, optimal hydration allows for optimal metabolic function. Water carries nutrients to your cells and waste from them so you can breeze through your workout and your workday seamlessly. Being well hydrated essentially keeps you flexible and alert, both physically and mentally.

“It’s important for so many reasons. Hydration helps aid in the regulation of blood pressure, it helps maintain proper electrolyte balance, and it helps keep our fascia pliable. If fascial tissue becomes dehydrated, it loses elasticity and becomes rigid and this increases the possibility of injury,” says registered dietician and Tier 4 coach Maria Pagano.

Since you lose water daily through perspiration, elimination, and even breathing, it’s paramount to keep on top of your fluid intake. And not just any fluid intake. It’s easy to skimp on water and grab drinks that don’t really hydrate—soda or iced coffee, or a monster of an energy drink. Caffeinated coolers can actually pull water out of your cells and sugar-sweetened drinks increase the inflammatory factors associated with cardiovascular disease. Suddenly that 12 oz. cola packing 50 grams of sugar doesn’t seem so thirst-quenchingly good.

Instead, think water first and foremost. The longtime H20/healthy liquid recommend: 8 to 10 glasses a day. Or some pros suggest drinking half your body weight in ounces, a handy way to remember it. (So if you’re 120 lbs, you’d drink about 60 ounces or roughly 2 liters of water daily). But other factors affect the amount of water you need, such as exercise and environment. If it’s hot and humid and you’re sweating more than usual then up your beverage quotient. Ditto for intense or extended training sessions, suggests Pagano. The key is to listen to your body and staying hydrated should become more instinctual.

Don’t consider your refreshments, well, refreshing unless they’re flavored? Then spike your water. Slice up lemons and oranges for a citrus blend or try a cucumber-mint mix and imagine you’re at the spa even when you’re at your desk. Another idea: Cut your glass of water (half-and-half) with non-caffeinated berry tea sweetened with stevia for your own healthy blend of ‘sweet tea.’ Other good choices include low-sugar fruit and vegetable juices, and don’t forget, “wet” foods like soups and juicy whole fruits and veggies that pack water in their flesh—nectarines, grapefruit, oranges, cucumbers, and tomatoes are a few.

Your goal: Drink up and strive for pale or clear urine throughout the day. Then you’ll know your body is humming along happily hydrated.

Cheers to these…from Tasting Table:

Tomato Granita

Melon-Basil Soup with Cucumbers Pimentón

Practice what we're preaching for the next few weeks, then check back on September fifth for rule number nine. If you're just tuning into our 12-month eating overhaul, read ournutrition philosophy.