What is Nutrition? Part One.

I invited a friend and her family to our Thanksgiving dinner and she jokingly asked if we were having a Tofu Turkey for dinner. I laughed but inside I was a little irritated. Then I got to thinking and realized she had no idea what healthy food or nutrition meant to me. Everyone has their own idea of what it means to be healthy and what good nutrition is. Everyone thinks their way is the right way. For years I thought I was being healthy by eating whole grains and staying away from saturated fat. Once I learned some of the science behind why I eat the way I do, I realized just how wrong I was. I had been riding the blood sugar roller coaster for years. I had been doing cardio three days a week and not losing any weight and I did not feel good. 

I have not felt good for so long I am not sure I remember what it feels like to feel really good but that is a whole other series of posts to come. I have had glimpses of what it feels like but they sure don’t last long. Hashimoto’s and thyroid problems are fickle that way. You never know what you are going to get from one day to the next. My poor family can attest to that. Mom is a freak. No doubt about it. Some days are good, more days are not. It gets a little old after awhile (I am 13 years into a hypothyroid diagnosis and 4 years in to a Hashimoto’s diagnosis), ask anyone who lives with me. 

So, I thought I would explain in a series of posts what good Nutrition means to me. What it means to not only eat healthy, but be healthy. Being healthy involves food but it also is your mind and your spirit no matter what kind of body you have. Just so you know, being thin does not equal being healthy. You must be fit and what that is for you is different than what it is for me. 

 

What does NUTRITION mean?  It can mean giving your body the food it needs to maintain health. It also can mean the science of food and how it interacts with the organism consuming it. In this case, your body. 

Nutrients are the components of food that are essential for life. They provide us with energy, structure and ensure all of the systems in our body are working properly. 

What is essential to life must be provided by the food we consume or our diet. There are several nutrients we need but today I will focus on water. 

We are approximately 60% water. WOW! That’s a lot. Water is said to be THE most important nutrient for our body. We can only go a few days without it. Water is in every tissue in our body. Every cell and all your body fluids should have a high volume of water. 

What exactly does it do for us? Why do we need it?

Well, it helps you breathe easier. It helps you regulate your body temperature. Water helps your cells talk to each other. It removes waste (through sweat and elimination). It carries nutrients throughout your body. It helps you heal and a whole bunch of other cool stuff. 

 

Your body can only make about 8% of the water it needs- the rest is up to you and what you put in your mouth. We do not (at least we are not supposed to) store water so we must consume it. 

Your body can only make about 8% of the water it needs- the rest is up to you and what you put in your mouth. We do not (at least we are not supposed to) store water so we must consume it. 

How much water should you consume?  The standard eight 8oz glasses or 64oz is not always true. There are some very well respected health care practitioners that would say, drink when you are thirsty but I really believe it is a little too late by the time you are thirsty- you are probably a little dehydrated by then. Consumption of water is individualized. The Nutritional Therapy Association recommends taking your body weight and dividing that in half and drinking that many ounces per day.  So if you are 200lbs you would drink 100oz of water per day. HOLY COW that is a lot of water. Don’t chug it all at once though, your body can only use about 4oz every 15 minutes or so. You also need to keep in mind the time of year, how much you are sweating in the day among other things. If you are working out and sweating a ton then you might drink more than that. If it is winter and you are sitting around most of the day then 100oz might be too much. You can get water from your food too. Bone broth, veggies, fruits. These all contain water and they are good for you. Double benefit. Kill two birds with one stone! Yes!

Of course I would not worry myself trying to get all that water in during your day. If you are just starting to drink more water and less of something less hydrating (pop, coffee, juice boxes) then just take those baby steps baby! You can do it!! Try replacing one of those other favorite beverages with an equal amount of water and increase it gradually. Your body will thank you! 

What if you hate the taste of water!? I’m a water snob, always have been. I like a good crisp tasting water. I also like it with a splash of lemon and a pinch of salt!  I like it warm with steeped ginger and turmeric. You can add sliced cucumber which is really good too. Try it! You might be surprised. Whatever you do, don’t use those chemical laden squirt bottles full of artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners. It totally defeats the purpose. 

 

Adding that pinch of Celtic Sea Salt or Redmond Real Salt is great for adding electrolytes and your adrenal glands will love you for it. 

If you drink diuretics like coffee, some teas, pop or store bought juice then you need to drink 1.5 oz of water for every ounce of the diuretic. A 12 oz can of pop means you need to drink 18oz of water to make up for it. 

The quality of your water is important too. Filtered water is great because you have some of the chemicals removed from the water. 

What does it look like when you are dehydrated? Early signs of dehydration are fatigue, anxiety, irritability, depression, cravings, cramps, headaches and hunger. That’s right, if you think you are hungry you might just be thirsty. Drink up!