12 Nutrition Essentials - Hydration, Water and Macronutrients
Column #118, 21st May 2011
Why is it that it’s often the simplest things that we aren’t doing in order to achieve our goals? When it comes to our health this is frequently the case. I field many questions via email or during consultations about the effect of various vitamins, minerals, the latest ‘superfood’ or exercise regime and how this just could be the miracle-cure or missing-link to achieving the levels of health or performance we aspire to. Well, maybe so but I usually reply in with the question –“How much water do you drink daily?”
The basics are the foundation on which to build. They are the point from which we can be powerful. Without them we cannot build anything else sustainable. Granted, the basics do not sound cool, are not all singing and dancing and they may not appear exciting and full of impact, but this is the secret of their success. Take out the hype and do what works. Today we look at two very simple essential nutritional lessons, hydration and macronutrients. Miss these two steps and you are preparing yourself to fail, which most likely includes a lot of time, money and effort.
All the technical and detailed information in the world on supplements and medicines will never take away the fundamental need to get the basics right. Read on to see why.
Creatures of Habit
We are undeniably creatures of habit. This relates to our nutritional and eating habits too. Habits can be things that we typically do daily, but also include all the things that we DON’T do. The consumption of enough water each day is a perfect example. The answer I usually get to my question – “How much water do you drink daily?” is often “none” and rarely “enough” (approximately 2 litres / day). We find ourselves in the habit of not consuming enough water on a daily basis.
Now lets not forget that we are talking about something very simple here. If drinking water everyday has a significant affect on our health and performance and improves our sporting ability, reduces back pain, helps control blood sugar and gives us energy etc…….why aren’t we doing it. Unfortunately, there is a plethora of poor nutritional information out there in the media. Whether we like it or realise it or not, we are influenced by this and it affects our decisions and behaviour. Even those who believe they are drinking sufficient water each day may actually be erroneously including tea, coffee, juice, sports drinks and even just stretching the truth to protect their ego (which is very sensitive). Stranger things have happened.
In my view, building our awareness is the most positive first step we can take towards making a change in our lives for health, for sport, for vitality. There is no time to feel negative towards the way we have been doing it, only time to feel empowered about what you can do now. Experience, learn and progress.
Water and Hydration
There are trillions of cells in the body – skin cells, muscle cells, brain cells, vital organ cells and many more. Every single cell requires water to function and produce energy to do its job. If you are dehydrated then there will be many cells that are not able to produce enough energy to do its job. This might sound a bit complicated – so how does this affect how we feel and function on a day-to-day basis?
Do you think it is possible that symptoms that involve our concentration, memory and clarity of mind could be related to dehydrated brain cells? Makes perfect sense to me. What about constantly aching joints and muscles? If the tissues don’t have enough water to lubricate and contract efficiently then we may not have ideal tension and movement. Could it be that some headaches are a product of not being hydrated enough and given that we need gallons of water to effectively digest our food (although not consumed together), could digestive symptoms be related to simply not drinking enough water.
Thirsty? The train has left the Station.
The fact is that if you feel thirsty, then you have been dehydrated for a considerable amount of time. Thirst is a signal that eventually gets us to do something about it. We’ve been ignoring the fact that we have been experiencing fatigue, muscle aches, joint pains, low energy, irritability, headaches and abdominal cramps, because we didn’t realise that it was the lack of water that was part of the issue. Of course this is not to say it is the whole issue. If you experience any of these symptoms you should seek your healthcare practitioner’s advice.
If you find that you experience being thirsty quite often then consider that your body requires water for all of its functions all day everyday and if you don’t supply it, then it will pull it from your tissues (muscle, bones, joints, spine). Water is so vital for life that the body will scavenge for it, at the expense of other ‘less important’ tissues and cells.
Can you drink too much water?
If you are already conscious of your water intake and follow guidelines for your body mass, then begin to think on a cellular level. To function effectively, the cells in our bodies are attempting to maintain an ideal environment and this depends on many things including the concentration of the fluids inside and out the cell and the availability of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. When you are dehydrated there is not enough water for the cells to take up, but when you drink too much water there are problems too.
For most of us, 8 glasses a day or 2 litres is about right. Multiply your body weight (kg) by 0.033, to find out how many litres of water should hydrate you on a typical day. This will also depend on factors such as environmental temperature and physical activity levels. And no, daily water intake does not include tea, coffee and juice. In fact this will more likely dehydrate you more.
Research indicates that tap water is often contaminated due to exposure to toxins, fluoride, chlorine and heavy metals. Ideally you could look into getting a home water filtration system, based on the quality of your water. Bottled water is another option, but make sure it is from a ‘spring’ and the container is either glass or clear polyethylene. PVC bottles are likely to leach plastic chemicals into the water. Bottled water is an altogether different toxin and environmental debate too.
Also, look for a Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) value of 300 or greater. Water in this form will be utilised most effectively by the body. Reading the label should ensure that you are drinking quality water daily.
The same principles as above apply here too. Our daily eating habits may lack the quality and quantity of macronutrients our body requires for growth and energy. Judging by the most frequent questions I get asked, it is clear that there is significant confusion about what role fats, proteins and carbohydrates play. This is where the mindset of one-size-fits all approaches, supplement abuse and fad, extreme diets come in and manage to actually look like a beneficial option. When we stop and consider what principles these ideas are based on, they quickly come unstuck and look pretty exposed and weak. There are much more powerful, healthy and simple ways to get your results.
In the Essential Nutrition Lessons program, lesson 2 is on getting the Macronutrients (fat, protein and carbohydrates) right. Way before you start thinking about this vitamin or that mineral you need to be consuming the correct amounts and type of macronutrients at every meal. Without this, any extra supplementation is an immense waste of money. Therapeutic application of supplements is powerful and effective, but not before this step is aced.
All Important Fats, Proteins and Carbohydrates
For some reason it is commonly thought that we only get energy from carbohydrates – this is simply not true, Fats and Protein provide energy too. It is essential to provide a balance of fat protein and carbohydrates for efficient metabolism. In addition, optimal metabolism is achieved when we tailor to our individual requirements.
It is impossible for me to write down guidelines of specific amounts of fat, protein and carbohydrates for you to eat. That would be assuming that we all needed the same amount, which simply isn’t true. It is also more than just eating a certain amount related to your body mass too, as this ignores the fact that we all use these fuels in different ways. That’s right we are all individual in the foods we need too. We will cover the individual side of nutrition later in the program as for now it is essential that we all appreciate the importance and health-giving properties of all THREE macronutrients (Metabolic Typing and BioSignature methods). That’s right……fat too. Are you reading this thinking “hold on I thought fat was bad for you, doesn’t it clog up arteries and cause so many modern day diseases?”? Well the answer is one that you need to find out and be happy with for yourself, but to satisfy my own inquisitive mind I did my own research. In my opinion I have yet to find any research that validates the current society views on the demonization of fat. In fact I have had to do a considerable amount of unlearning myself.
This only scratches the surface, the online program does a lot more, your own research will enlighten you, but for now, it is essential that you acknowledge the fundamental role that fat, protein and carbohydrates play in your health.
Over the next few weeks we’ll go into more detail on each topic. For anyone who wants to learn more about these topics there are high-quality online resources that provide this entire program and more.
12 Essential Nutrition Lessons
- Healthy Breakfasts
- Healthy Lunches
- Healthy Dinner
- Cow’s Milk Dairy
- Truth about Fats and Oils
- Raw and Cooked Foods
- The Soy Debate
- Sugar and Alcohol
- Organic Food
Each of the 12 Lessons Includes:
- A VIDEO PRESENTATION that teaches you all they key issues related to that specific topic.
- An AUDIO RECORDING of the lesson that you can download and add to your iPod, MP3 player or even a CD so that you can listen to the information in your car!
- A downloadable presentation, in both PDF and POWERPOINT formats for you to print and follow along with the audio presentation (if you’d prefer not to stare at the computer screen!)
- A PDF ACTION GUIDE, which provides KEY ACTION POINTS for you to implement IMMEDIATELY to enable you to make key the changes that are discussed in each lesson.
- Additional PDF documents with extra information and resources to help you implement each lesson with minimal stress and disruption to your lifestyle.