The Most Important Nutrients; Are You Getting Enough?

Plate of vegetables

When you think about nutrition, what images come to mind?  Are you picturing a plate full of fresh vegetables?  Are you thinking about carbohydrates, proteins and fats?  Maybe you’re trying to remember what the latest food pyramid looks like.

Would you be surprised to find out that nutrition isn’t just the foods you eat?

Nutrition is actually defined as any item your body needs because it can’t produce enough or any on its own.  That means the air we breathe and water are nutrients!

And I think you’ll agree life can’t exist without these two items, making them most important.

Hydration

Water bottleYour body is somewhere between 50-60% water.   You need water so your body can do all kinds of important things.

Your blood needs it to take sugar, oxygen and fat to your muscles.  Your digestive system needs it so you don’t become constipated.  Water cools down muscles that are working.  Water regulates your body temperature.  It also keeps your joints lubricated and organs and tissues cushioned.

There are a lot of processes that break down or become impaired if you’re not getting enough.

So how much is enough?

You may have heard the advice drink 8 cups or 64 oz of water per day.  This ballpark figure may not be enough for you.

Another formula says to take your weight, divide by 2 and that’s how many oz you need.  But this is still just a guideline.

Is it hot and humid today?  Are you working out?  Do you sweat more than most people you know?  Are you pregnant?

All of these factors and others mean your intake needs to be higher than guidelines suggest.

So you can probably see, most people suffer from some degree of dehydration since about 80% of the population isn’t drinking enough to meet even the ballpark guidelines.

Signs of dehydration

drink waterIf you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.  But thirst isn’t the best way to judge if you’re getting enough water.

How often you urinate, in what quantity and the color of your urine is all important too.  If it’s infrequent, in little quantities or dark in color, you’re not getting enough water.

Without enough water, it’s also possible to experience headaches, fatigue, confusion, dizziness, muscle cramps, intense thirst, irrational behavior, nausea and more!

Tips for getting more water in your day

First, use the calculator below to determine how much is recommended for your weight.

Now that you have a base line, you know what to shoot for as the bare minimum.

I like to get my bare minimum while at work.  That way, whatever I drink while at home in the evening puts me over for the day.  I do that by picking natural stop points in my day (first arrive at work, mid-morning break, lunch, mid-afternoon break).  Since my minimum intake happens to be 64 oz, I have a 16 oz glass that I fill and drink at each of those times.

Another trick is to measure your requirement on the side of a pitcher, fill it first thing in the morning and drink your way through it during the course of the day.

Some people carry a thermos or sport bottle and sip all day long, refilling as needed.

watermelonDon’t forget that water from your food counts!  Eating more water dense foods, while hard to measure, will help keep you hydrated, too.  Watermelon and lettuce are two examples that come to mind.

If you don’t like plain water, squeeze in a bit of fresh lemon or lime (but don’t add sugar!).

What other creative ways can you think of to help increase how much you drink?

Breathing

You might figure since you’re not suffocating, you’re getting enough air.  And while that’s true, HOW you breathe can have a huge impact on your stress levels and quality of life.  So it’s worth some time here to address it.

There has been a lot of emphasis on belly breathing as being the better way to breathe over breathing from the chest.  This is not really accurate.

It’s best to utilize both the chest AND the belly in an equalized way to maximize quantity and quality of breath.

How to improve the breath

Improve your breathIf you play a musical instrument, sing or exercise on a regular basis, there’s a chance you already maximize your breath potential.

But if you struggle to swell your song, have stress in your life or notice your breath comes mostly from the chest or mostly from the belly, there are ways to improve.

Guided breathing, mindful awareness of breath, meditation and yoga all have a profound impact on how you breathe.  With enough practice, the breath naturally deepens.  All of these methods reduce stress making it easier to breathe deeply even when you’re not intentionally practicing.

Benefits from improved breathing

There’s no doubt that improved breathing helps lower stress and anxiety, but what else does it do?

You also benefit by having more energy and less mental or physical fatigue.  You have less chest pains and less need for that afternoon coffee or soda jolt.

Your circulation improves.  You increase your body’s ability to absorb other nutrients.  You reduce stress on your organs.  You have less chance of holding excess fluid in your body causing swelling.

By improving circulation, you reduce wrinkles and have more radiant skin.  You look more rested.

You have less muscle spasms and increased flexibility.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Get Your Fill

Water and air may be inorganic nutrients, but they have a huge impact on what your body is capable of doing with the organic nutrients you eat.

If you’re struggling to lose weight, take a look at these two important ingredients.  What might happen if you improve your consumption?

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Need more info? Search for it here.