Updated: Jun 2, 2022
Watering Your Body’s Biological Rhythms
Have you ever heard the expression, “blood, sweat, and tears?” Well, now you can add a new one, “blood, sugar, and water.” Do you ever have times during the day where your energy dips and you feel fatigued and sleepy? If yes, blood, sugar and water are important for helping you balance and maintain consistent energy levels throughout the day to avoid taking the energy roller coaster ride with its highs and lows. I remember I used get tired around the same time each day – between 2 pm to 4 pm. It sometimes got so bad that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I’d prop my chin and cheeks between my hands and pretend I was reading something on my computer, but I was really taking a nap. Sound familiar? Your “dip” times may be different, and you may have different coping strategies. But I bet a lot of us go on the energy roller coaster each day. It interferes with our alertness, productivity, and daily activities. So, what can we do about it? Step 1 is to water the garden of our body. In other words, drink more water!
You might be thinking, “Oh please, I know I’m supposed to drink water.” The challenges may be that we think it’s not practical, it’s too difficult, or we don’t like the taste of water. It becomes yet another thing on our “to do list” that we “should” do, which makes it a chore. We may also believe that’s not the main cause of our energy ups and downs, which may be true. We have certain biological rhythms when hormones are secreted at their highest and lowest levels, which affects our 24-hour circadian rhythms and sleep/wake cycles. However, water is still an important factor in regulating our endocrine system to properly release our hormones throughout the day and achieve balance. It’s even important for those of us who may have medical labels, such as diabetes, which dysregulates our insulin production and causes energy dips. If you have a medical condition, it’s always best to check with your licensed healthcare provider to see whether it is safe to increase your water consumption. For most of us, there are no contraindications. So, let’s look from both western and eastern perspective at why water is so important, as well as how to increase our water intake without it becoming a chore.
The West – The Miracle of Water to Balance Blood Sugar and Decrease Cravings
Everything is energy. Your body is energy and needs energy to function, just as a car needs fuel to run. The body’s preferred source of energy is glucose or “blood sugar,” which is the concentration of glucose in the blood stream broken down from the carbohydrates we eat. It’s important to keep blood sugar balanced because when there’s too much or too little glucose in the blood it triggers the body’s stress response, which affects our mood, our energy, and all the organs and tissues of the body.
Food is broken down in our digestive system into glucose (sugar), which then enters our blood stream to feed our cells. The glucose doesn’t automatically get from the blood stream into the cells. The hormone insulin is released from the pancreas when blood glucose (aka blood sugar) levels rise, and it acts as a key opening the door to power up our cells.
Simple carbohydrates like bagels, white bread, and processed foods give a quick glucose energy burst, but then crash us just as rapidly. Why? These types of foods send a lot of glucose into the blood stream at once. It then triggers the pancreas to make more insulin to lower the blood glucose and bring it into the cells. This causes the blood sugar to quickly “dip,” and we crash. And that’s the spacey, shaky, tired, uncomfortable feeling we may get. When we crash, what is our body going to crave? Sweets! This is because the body can get the blood sugar quickly back up. And that’s why it’s hard to stop eating our sugar snacks. Unfortunately, it sends us on this blood sugar roller coaster, depletes our energy, and packs more weight on our bodies by sending the excess sugar to be stored in our fat cells. So, what’s the answer? Obviously, we can cut down on eating our sweets and junk foods. Another important factor is water.
The body is made of 55% to 65% water. The main way water helps balance blood sugar is by helping us decrease our cravings. It helps rehydrate our skin and tissues, flushes toxins out of our system, balances hormones, reduces inflammation, rehydrates the blood, and regulates blood sugar. It does this through the kidneys, which help flush out the excess glucose in the blood, so sugar levels don’t go too high.
The East - Chinese Energy Medicine, Kidneys, Water, and Emotions
Chinese energy medicine views the body as an energetic garden where everything is interconnected. This ecosystem relies on the health of all its inhabitants to maintain balance and thrive. Watering the garden is crucial to nourishing the root or “essence of life.” According to Chinese medicine, water is associated with the kidneys, which store the “essence “of life in our human garden. There are two ways we obtain this essence: (1) We inherit a fixed amount of essence or “jing” from our parents; and (2) We acquire more or deplete essence depending on our lifestyle, what we eat and drink, how we exercise, our external environment where we live, and on renewing or depleting emotions. Water is an essential component to acquire more “essence” for a longer, healthier life.
The kidneys also have physiologic functions to regulate water and bodily fluids, get rid of toxins, and assist with the development of bones, nails, hair, teeth, and reproduction. To do this, water is needed to allow the unimpeded flow of life essence, which carries the energetic life force (aka “chi” “ki,” “prana”) in the blood to be distributed throughout the body. So, we can see that the kidneys function in a similar manner in both the eastern and western systems.
There is an additional aspect unique to eastern healing – each organ has its unique “personality” or emotions attached to it. The kidney’s depleting emotions are fear and emotional turmoil. It’s renewing characteristics are trust, strength, and the ability to work hard. Again, this is like modern day medicine where the hormones affect our mood and our energy levels, including cortisol excreted by the adrenals, which sit on top of the kidneys and can overly stress the body with chronic stress.
What’s the key take away? Blood, sugar and water are interconnected. Water is vital in our life and is a simple way to help balance blood sugar levels, decrease sugar cravings, and increase our energy. Now let’s look at how to drink more water.
Simple Tips to Increase Water Intake
The following list contains simple ways to drink more water without it being an undue burden:
How Much Water to Drink – This depends on many factors such as your activity level, how much alcohol or caffeine you drink because they are dehydrating, and hot summer heat. However, a good rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in fluid ounces or liters. For example, if you way 150 lbs. /68 kgs, then you need to drink approximately 75 ounces/2.2 liters of water each day.
Increase Water Intake Gradually – If you drink 2 glasses of water a day, increase it to 3 glasses the first week, 4 glasses the second week, etc., until you get to the desired amount. This will allow your body to adjust so you’re not constantly in the bathroom.
When to Drink - Drink water when you wake up, before, during and after exercise, throughout the day to keep hydrated, and whenever you feel thirsty. Keep water by your bedside and drink as soon as you wake up to rehydrate after sleeping for several hours. Drinking water before a meal can also help people lose weight by not eating as much.
Trust Your Body’s Signals – Your body can tell you when you are dehydrating. Your urine may be too dark, you may feel parched or thirsty, and your mouth, skin, nails, and eyes may feel dry. Listen to these signals and drink more water!
How to Drink – Try a water bottle with a straw rather than putting it in a glass. It helps by letting you sip throughout the day.
What to Do if You Don’t Like the Taste of Water – Add slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, orange, and/or mint leaves into it. We don’t want our body to be too acidic. The pH of the human body (how alkaline or acidic it is) is between 7.35 – 7.45. Therefore, we don’t want our water to be too acidic. Although lemons and limes are considered acidic, they have an alkaline effect on the body.
How to Choose the Healthiest Kinds of Water – You want water that is close to the pH of the body. You may also want to use filters to reduce the chlorine, which is added to kill harmful bacteria. Some filters can reduce other contaminates such as lead, benzene, chloramines, and PCBs. Investigate which type of filter is best for you based on your budget, and how well it filters the specific contaminates in the area where you live. Bottled water may be a good option but investigate the pH of the water, what’s in it (minerals), and where it was sourced (artesian, spring, purified, etc.). Some companies have been found to use regular tap water to increase their profit margins.
How to Boost Kidney Energy – The kidneys are vital in regulating the body’s water, flushing out the system, removing toxins, and balancing emotions. There are many ways in Chinese energy medicine to keep the kidneys healthy, such as the foods we eat and gentle, light touch acupressure. One acupressure point to help distribute water throughout the body is called Kidney 1 or “Bubbling Spring.” Gently touch (no need for hard pressing) the bottom of the sole of either foot (or both) between the 2nd and 3rd toes and approximately 1/3 the distance between the base of the 2nd toe and heel. See the photo to help you locate this point.
We have now discussed step 1 in balancing the energy roller coaster. Stay tuned for more steps. Sign up for my newsletter and read my blogs at www.susanhlieberman.com.