When I instruct my clients how to use their sauna, there is recommendation that trumps all. I don't mind if they have their sauna at 30 degrees or 55 or if they read the paper or listen to some music whilst sweating, but what is not negotiable is water consumption. There is nothing more important.
What de-hydrates us?
With permission to sound grim, from my experience 90 - 95% off the Australian population is chronically dehydrated… and not just because we don't drink enough water. Drinking the right amount of water for your body weight and your amount of exercise is one thing, but there are a number of things we do that dehydrate us regardless of how much water we drink.
What de-hydrates us?
- Drinking soft drinks
- Drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages
- High sodium consumption
- Foods that are dry i.e. potato chips, biscuits, nuts, pizza
- Any processed foods
- Anything acidic in nature
Some of the common tell tale signs of dehydration are:
Easily fatigued, no energy, tired often, mental fog, yawning a lot, headaches, dry skin.
If you find yourself yawning at your desk, ask yourself 'how much water have I drunk today?' I find if there is ever a point during the day when I lose energy in what I'm working on or I can't think straight, if I look at my jug of water it will be more full than it should.
Drinking water keeps our blood thinner, allowing the oxygen we breathe to be carried and utilised throughout the body quicker and easier with less strain on the heart.
Our brain holds around 1L of water alone, and our body wants to drain and replenish this daily. Again, how much water have you drunk today? If it’s less than 500ml and it’s in the afternoon then how can your body replenish the water in the brain?
Have you eaten some dry food today? How do you expect that to come out the other end? I guarantee not the same way it went in! The hydration required to wet that food before it comes out needs to come from somewhere. All of a sudden your body is scrambling to find the hydration it needs for just two of the hundreds of process' it needs water for. No wonder everyone has brain fog and can't think clearly.
What does our body do when it’s not getting the hydration it needs?
It will take water from other stores within the body! Human beings are 70% water. As soon as this begins to drop by less than even 1%, our body needs to work and find out ways to hydrate itself from reserves in the body. So from: bones, blood, skin, muscles, the brain… Check out the book ‘Your body’s many cries for water’ to learn more about how our body processes water.
So what is proper hydration?
It's not hard, it’s not a chore and it feels good! For every 22kg of body weight, the body requires 1L of water per day before exercise. I weight 66kg so I require 3L of water on a day when I do not exercise. I exercise or use my sauna daily so it is not uncommon for me to consume 4 - 5L a day. Yep that isn't a typo. No I am not going to wash all of the salt out of my system. Yes I go to pee a lot. Would you rather pee more often and have better mental clarity? Don't make excuses. Try it! See what happens. You might find you feel amazing.
If you have not hydrated correctly for a long time, your body will not utilise the water very well for the first few weeks. Yes you will pee a lot initially. The benefits of correct hydration far outweigh having to go to the bathroom more regularly than you did.
Eat more vegetables and fruits with high water content. Watermelon is 96-98% water. It hydrates your digestive system, your body and your brain. Plus the water content it food is in the perfect structure made for you by nature :) Celery juice is highly alkaline and very hydrating.
Tips to hydrate easier
Given we need water so often, it is something that you just need to find out a way to fit into your morning routine, your day at work, at gym…anywhere.
If nothing else - as soon as you get out of bed drink 1L of water. This turns on all your organs, starts up the lymphatic system and is a great way to start the day. The Japanese have done this for millennia, and up until the American’s invaded, had one of the lowest rates of cancer worldwide…so it can't hurt right?
Also if you drink 1L in the morning and then forget to drink later, or just drink what you normally do…you're still ahead.
More often than not I work at a desk so I have a 2L jug of water that I fill up every morning when I arrive at work and know that I need to get to the bottom of that by the end of the day. That 2L jug plus my 1L first thing in the morning has me covered.
Always on the run? Get a 1L stainless bottle and drink 2 or 3 of those at work.
Purchase a good quality bottle that is 1L or 2L. 750ml bottles get too hard to measure. It needs to be easy otherwise you won't do it!
The most important thing to remember with any water is -in the words of Don Tolman- 'the best kind of water is the kind that's wet!’. Yes there are amazing benefits to drinking filtered water, but don't ever dehydrate yourself because you don't want to drink tap water. Any water is better than none.
Filtered water is really an entire article itself, so I’ll keep it short.
In our tap water we find chemicals like:
- Mercury just to name a few.
Google any of those followed by 'and the effects on the body' and be prepared to be frightened.
Proper filtered and energised water is more hydrating, alkaline (cancer grows in an acidic body) and is far safer for consumption. Plus, after regular use it just tastes better.
You can purchase a good quality water filter here.
I will do a more in depth blog post on filtered water soon for those who want to learn more about water filtration.
Hydrating in the sauna
So it's pretty clear why we need to hydrate on a daily basis. So when it comes to using the sauna -where we are pushing water out of our skin (sweat) - we need even more water! Too often we have people try our saunas and initially they don't sweat. When we ask them 'How much water have you drunk today? More often than not they actually aren't sure! If you aren't sure when you last drank water, you're not drinking enough. So if the body is chronically dehydrated (years of poor dehydration and living an acidic lifestyle) how will it have anything to use for sweat? After we force these clients to drink 500ml before their next sauna session, guess what? They sweat.
To really get the most out of a sauna session, you want to drink 2.0L minimum over the entirety of the session. 0.5L beforehand. 1-1.5L during and 0.5L after. It’s not overkill! Clean water in, dirty water out. Consuming water beforehand really does translate to sweating quicker in the sauna. Drinking water after the sauna is equally important so as to keep the body hydrated and not leave the body dehydrated after a session. If you fill two of our stainless steel water bottles and drink both during your session, then you’re covered…easy!
Water is the 2nd most important ingredient to life, second only to oxygen! Without it, we don’t last very long. So don’t starve your body from such an easily accessible utility and feel the difference when you start to hydrate correctly.