Stay Hydrated!

First I want to welcome everyone (friends, family, and kind strangers) that has decided to party-take in this wonderful 6-week nutrition challenge! REfreshME! is designed to fit every diet preference, whether omnivore, vegan, or vegetarian-so make this program fit you! The next 6 weeks will be an exciting adventure together filled with a ton of information and healthy tips and tricks to take with you forever. If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to email me or comment below.

First comes water, then comes food!

Water is often overlooked in our busy lives because is not as glamorous or as “trendy” as the newest superfood that has recently hit the market shelves. Water is however absolutely VITAL for life! It simple molecular structure, H2O, serves many essential and critical functions within our bodies. Water itself can be the sole limiting nutrient towards optimal health and weight! That is why we must first start with water, and then comes the food. 

Some of the functions we need water for:
  • Elimination of toxins and waste
  • Brain Function
  •  Body temperature regulation
  •  Cell and tissue structure
  • Optimal digestion and absorption
  • Joint lubrication

In order to do all the above functions, we need to be in water balance, meaning our water INPUTS need to balance out our water OUTPUTS, which is directly influenced by the foods we eat, what we drink, our exercise intensity, our age, breathing, surrounding temperatures, and more. Although most people are out of water balance because they are drinking too little water, one can also drink too much water and become hyperhydrated, aka “water intoxication”.

However, like I just said, most people are drinking too little water. Did you know that when you are “thirsty”, you are already slightly dehydrated! This thirst sensation is triggered when you have already lost 1%-2% of your bodily fluids. In this range brain function, mood, and physical performance may already start to decline. Mild dehydration can cause poor concentration, decreased short-term memory, as well as heightened moodiness or anxiety.

Yet it is true that on average Americans drink only about 4 cups of water per day, which is less than half of what is recommended by the Institute of Medicine. Currently the IOM recommends 9 to 13 cups of fluid intake for women and men respectively. Choosing filtered water is your best choice, because it contains less chemicals and toxins than does regular tap water. To see what chemicals are in your water visit the EWG Tap Water Database. Getting a Brita filter can be your first cheap and easy step towards quality drinking water. 

What increases fluid needs above IOM recommendations?
  • High fiber diet
  • High intensity workouts
  • High altitudes
  • Alcohol
Despite popular myths a cup or two of coffee will not impact fluid loss over a day’s time.

How to remember:
Although water is so wonderful, I know it can be hard to remember to drink it throughout your day.
Most importantly you have to make yourself reminders in order to make it a habit. Put an alarm on your phone or carry your water bottle with you to work. If you see it you will drink it! I love my Ball mason jar with a straw top. It's perfect to have around the home or at the office.

How to make water tasty: 
Water only comes as pure simple water. Some people love it, some need to add a little pizzazz to keep the water flowing. Below you will find some tips and tricks to help boost your water intake.

  • EAT MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES (they are 74-96% water!)
    •  Fruits high in water (>90%): watermelon, grapefruit, strawberries, cantaloupe
    • Vegetables high in water (>95%): radish, lettuce, zucchini, cucumber
    • Herbal: peppermint, echinacea, chamomile, ginger, rooibos, etc.
    • Other: green, white, oolong, black, chai, yerba mate, etc.
    • I do this EVERY morning! This routine not only helps rehydrate the body after a long nights sleep, it also stimulates digestion. 
    • Read more about the wonderful benefits of lemon water here.
    • Infused water offers more vitamins and minerals than just pure water.
    • Cut up your favorite fruit, vegetables, and/or different herbs and place into your water!
    • See below for a simple, refreshing recipe.
    • Choose fruits and vegetables high in water.
    • Add your favorite milk of choice (dairy, nut-milk, grain-milk)
    • Add in a splash of coconut water.
    • Infuse with fruits, veggies, and herbs.
    • Top a glass of sparkling water with a splash of fresh squeezed juice.

Swap sugar-sweetened beverages for water! 
Along with increasing filtered water intake, reducing or eliminating beverages that contain added refined sugars will be a HUGE step forward towards optimal health. Most sugar-sweetened beverages do not offer any health boosting nutrition, just empty calories found in refined sugar! Try to eliminate or significantly reduce the following beverages during this challenge and hopefully thereafter.
  • Sodas and other “soda-like” beverages
  •  Monster, Red Bull, or other energy drinks
  • Syrup sweetened espresso drinks
  • Limit alcohol to 3 glasses per week
    • If drinking only opt for wine or beer to limit sugar intake
    • Keep alcohol with meals
How to spot refined sugar on a beverage label
Some other names for sugar include: cane sugar, cane syrup, dehydrated cane juice, evaporated cane juice, cane juice crystals, cane juice solids, high fructose corn syrup, glucose solids, maltose, dextrose

What about diet beverages?
Although the FDA has approved several types of non-caloric sweeteners, diet beverages are far from being an ideal method of hydration. Just recently a research study released in the journal Nature suggested that the consumption of non-caloric sweeteners directly impacts the gut bacteria of mice and humans. As you will find out in week 4 of this challenge, the health of our gut bacteria plays a vital role in the overall health of an individual. Although, they were only specifically studying saccharin (Sweet N’ Low), I would recommend avoiding all non-caloric sweeteners.

Alright, so here is your first challenge! 
Take it by the horns and make it yours! Remember to print, download, and track on the REfreshME! Challenge Tracker to keep yourself accountable and motivated. Share your recipe inspirations, challenges, success with me @poppiesandpapayas and #refreshme2015.



Weekly Recipe Inspiration:

Orange, Mint, and Basil Infused Water

Infusing water with fruit and herbs can make water taste exiting and offer more nutritional benefits. For instance, oranges are rich in flavonoids (which are found directly under the peel) that have potent anti-inflammatory benefits and they are great source of immune boosting vitamin C! However, make sure to wash the fruit first before using it in the recipe.

1 slice Cara Cara orange, cut in half
1 slice Naval orange, cut in half
1 sprig mint, rubbed
1 sprig basil, rubbed
Squeeze of fresh lemon or lime
Fresh filtered water or unflavored sparkling water


Add all the above ingredients into your favorite beverage container (mine is a glass mason jar with a straw) and lightly press down with a straw or spoon to release some of the juices. Also make sure to rub your basil and mint sprigs because this releases the essential oils from the leaves. Top off your glass with filtered water, or plain sparkling water. You can top off your glass multiple times if you like, the flavor just gets lighter each time.

Note: You can alter this recipe any which way you like. Try cucumbers, basil, and, mint, or add some fresh ginger for extra spice. 


Recipe Links:

Feeling Motivated??? Here is how to prepare for next week! 
  • Clean our your refrigerator if you have not already :)
  • Clean out your pantry. Throw out any outdated foods that have been long forgotten, as well as any foods you know will not support you in this journey.
  • Stock up on your favorite organic fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. 
1. Riebl SK, Davy BM. They Hydration Equation: Update on Water Balance and Cognitive Performance. ACSM. 2013;17:21-28
2. Kleiner SM. Water: An essential but overlooked nutrient. JADA. 1999;99:200-206.
3. Jequier E, Constant F. Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration. EJCN. 2010;64:115-123.

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