I recently got asked the following question: “What health
tips would you recommend to all your patients, in general? I know acupuncture
is very individualized, but what kinds of things should everyone be doing,
regardless of their condition?”
So, as we enter into the New Year, over the next 10 days, I’ll
offer you my top 10 health tips for everyone…a place to start your journey to a
healthier, happier you. Some of these are based in Traditional Chinese Medicine
(TCM) theory, some in Western medicine, and some are influenced by other
healing systems. I doubt many will surprise you. But sometimes the best answers lie in the
simplest of things.
Health Tip #10. Drink enough water.
A healthy adult body is 55% water. Water sustains life. And
yet so many of our patients do not drink enough water during the day. A healthy
adult should drink at least 64 fluid ounces of water per day – and when you are
getting sick, working out a lot, stressed, or feeling run down, you probably
need even more. Water flushes toxins out of your body, carries nutrients to
your cells, and moistens your tissues so that they can function properly. In
TCM, water is vital to health because it prevents dryness in the body, supports
the healthy movement of energy through the meridians, nourishes the tissues,
and helps us maintain a healthy balance of hot and cold forces within the body. When your body is not getting enough water, every functional process in your body suffers. So it is an incredibly easy thing to do to promote better health!
I often suggest to patients that they add a wedge of lemon to their water when they drink it. This actually can help the body to absorb the water, so that you can maximize the effectiveness of each drop! Furthermore, it makes water more palatable to those who are used to drinking more flavorful beverages. Another possibility is steeping the water in a brita filter with mint or other herbs, to gently infuse their taste and healing properties into the water.
A note about temperature: In TCM, cold foods and beverages are very damaging to the body. If you think about it, the inside of your body is functioning at 98.6 degrees. If you suddenly introduce a blast of ice cold water, it can be a shock to your system, and can be very damaging to some of the energetic systems that function to keep you healthy on a day to day basis. Drink room temperature water (or warm water) whenever possible.
Lastly, I know that some patients really do not like drinking water because of the taste (or lack thereof.) In that case, I suggest substituting herbal tea (hot or cooled) or naturally flavored seltzer water. Sugary drinks, artificially flavored drinks, sports drinks, fruit juices, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages are NOT ok substitutes for water. Fruit juices are healthy parts of your diet but should be treated as a food (like eating fruit) rather than a beverage, and not consumed throughout the day as the sole form of fluids you are taking in to your body, due to the concentrated nature of the healthy natural sugars. Cola and other sugary or artificially flavored beverages should be avoided at all times. I believe that each individual needs to develop their own healthy relationship with alcohol and caffeine - if you do choose to drink either one, only do so with moderation, and realize that intaking alcoholic or caffeinated beverages actually INCREASES the amount of water that you need to consume to 1) flush the toxins out of your system and 2) avoid excess fluid loss through increased urination.
So, go pour yourself a nice, revitalizing, health-promoting glass of water and sip your way into a state of healthy living.