Springtime Wellness Tip

You can tell it’s springtime in Northern Arizona when all of the snow on the ground has melted overnight and the wind starts to blow, or rather howl non-stop until about the 10th of July.  Then just as suddenly it becomes summer.  Someone recently told me that the reason for the all the wind in the spring is to dry out the forests from all of the snow so that they can go camping.  Well that might be true, but all of that wind is drying you out as well.

If you are familiar with me at all, you’ll know of my constant preaching of drinking at least 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of water each day. This rule of thumb is a good guide to staying properly hydrated, especially in our climate of Northern Arizona.   See the chart below to reference how much daily water is best for you.

Body Weight (lbs)

Ounces

Quarts

Liters

100

50

1.6

1.5

125

63 2.0 1.9

150

75

2.3

2.2

175

88

2.8

2.6

200

100 3.1 3.0

225

113

3.5

3.3

250

125

3.9 3.7

275

138

4.3 4.1

As for what to drink, I’m pretty consistent in sticking to just plain water, or watered-down fruit juice. Coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages should not be counted in those ounces.

Here’s why I don’t recommend counting those caffeinated beverages. Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant that, among many things, dilates blood vessels which increases the amount of blood being filtered by the kidneys – resulting in an increased production of urine. This is combined with caffeine’s effect of sensitizing the bladder’s trigger system to alert you of the need to urinate. The result is a net loss of fluids from drinking caffeinated beverages. For regularly brewed coffee, in order to derive the two cups of water in the two cups of coffee you are drinking, you’ll need to drink an extra cup of coffee to offset the diuretic effect of the caffeine! It’s simpler to stick to plain water.

One note, the study that found that caffeine is not a diuretic was funded by the National Coffee Association. Go figure. (Click Here to view that study)

So how does dehydration relate to allergies? A 1995 Danish study confirms the process by which dehydration triggers an increase in histamine production by the body’s endocrine system. Histamine production is a defensive mechanism by the body to preserve the vital water that remains in the body and to prevent further loss.

Not only does the body lose water through urination and perspiration, normal respiration also causes a large volume of water loss through the vapor exhaled during breathing. Histamine is part of the regulatory mechanism that controls bronchial contractions in the lungs. Bronchial constrictions during an asthma attack may be the result of the body’s attempt to minimize water vapor loss.

Although a natural product of the body’s endocrine system, histamine is an irritant to the body which produces the itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing associated with allergic reaction. In a normally functioning system, a simple invasion by a virus, bacteria or pollen spore triggers histamine production to defend against and expel the invading micro-organism. However, dehydration can put this system out of balance, resulting in elevated levels of histamine circulating through the body. These elevated histamine levels produce symptoms similar to an allergic reaction even when there are no outside triggers creating the response.

If you then take an anti-histamine allergy medication to relieve these symptoms, you are then shutting down your body’s natural ability to produce histamine even when it’s necessary. I suggest that before reaching into the medicine cabinet, reach into the cupboard first and drink about a quart of water (with a pinch of salt), and see if after a few minutes your symptoms are lessened or even eliminated. If not, try again in another 30 minutes. If after these two attempts to rehydrate have no effect on your allergy symptoms, then try the pharmaceutical approach.

I believe you’ll find that water will be your best solution most of the time. Try it. You’ve got nothing to lose.

– Paul Kulpinski, LMT

Sources:

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA57092

http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/psychology/health_psychology/caffeine_sports.htm

http://nutritioninfo.tripod.com/id19.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histamine

http://www.watercure.com/udc.html

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About Paul Kulpinski, LMT

Paul Kulpinski is a licensed massage therapist, holistic wellness coach and co-founder of Mountain Waves Healing Arts in Flagstaff, Arizona with over 15 years experience in helping people achieve their optimum state of well being. Information contained in this blog should not be taken as medical advice. Readers are advised to validate the information presented here with other sources including your personal physician for information specific to you.
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2 Responses to Springtime Wellness Tip

  1. maxie says:

    I am always dehydrated and have to remember to drink enough water every day, which does not always happen. You said on the radio yesterday that if you are dehydrated, you should not drink a lot all at once because ….. is not okay for some reason. I missed it, would you please elaborate? Thx, max

  2. Hi Maxie,

    If you’ve been chronically dehydrated, adding a lot of water can throw your body out of balance further. What you want to do is gradually add about a quart a day to what you are drinking already, up to 1/2 your body weight in ounces.

    There are some good guidelines by a doctor named: Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, M.D. He wrote several books two of which are on file at the Flagstaff Public Library:

    Water, for health, for healing, for life : you’re not sick, you’re thirsty! (2003)

    Your body’s many cries for water : you are not sick, you are thirsty! (1995)

    He also has a website: http://www.watercure.com that may be of some interest.

    Hope that helps!

    Paul

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