The One Crucial Thing Your Morning Routine Is Missing
And it’s free.
You wake up in the morning, maybe you meditate for 10 minutes, do some yoga, or grab your phone and check your social accounts (yet again). But there’s something your morning routine is missing: Water. Functional Nutritionist Julie Olson, CN, BCHN, CGP, founder of Fortitude Functional Nutrition, says the key is not just water, but warm water. “Essentially, warm water gives the insides of your body a gentle nudge to get going instead of a cold electric shock to get out of bed,” she tells TZR in an email. “Warm water sounds much more pleasing, right?” And beyond just warming you up, your hormones can hugely benefit by starting your day off by sipping at least eight ounces of warm water enhanced with a slice of lemon and pinch of Himalayan or sea salt, she explains. “It’s a great way to start off your day off while you wait to brew your usual cup of joe or tea!”
Of course, you’ve probably heard about adding lemon to your water before — Drew Barrymore and other celebs do it, too — and there are many health benefits. “Lemons have been shown to help detoxify the liver, and the liver is where we either convert hormones, such as thyroid T4 to T3,” says Olson. “It helps us to excrete excess hormones, such as estrogen, which can lead to weight gain and sleep and mood issues if it builds up.” Plus, it can help keep your skin clear and stave off bad breath. A pinch of Himalayan or sea salt can also help, she explains. “It promotes better hydration and electrolyte balance, which is important for hormone and bodily functions,” Olson adds. “The magnesium, sodium, and potassium in the salt nourishes the adrenal glands. These largely produce cortisol and the DHEA hormone, and contribute to the production of adrenaline, estrogen and other hormones, as well.”
And why warm water? Olson says that warm (or room temperature) water aids in the absorption of the lemon and salt nutrients into the body. It also promotes digestive function and bowel movements, which is how we excrete toxins that can impact hormone balance or excess hormones themselves. Dietician Nutrition Coach Naria Le Mire, MPH, RD, also says there are benefits to drinking water in the morning. “It may aid with weight management, cognitive function (especially if an exam is coming up), and mental health (avoiding symptoms such as headaches, which may affect an individual's frame of mind),” she tells TZR in an email.
Why It’s Important To Drink Water
You may remember your health class teacher telling you, way back when, to drink eight glasses of water a day. But do you know why? “When considering water intake, it's important that people remind themselves of why,” Le Mire says. When we understand why we need to drink more water, we are more likely to act.” She says there are several reasons why fluid (specifically, water) intake is important. These include: prevention of infections, such as those in the urinary tract (especially in older adults); it helps get rid of waste through urination and sweat; it reduces muscle fatigue (especially for those who are active); it improves skin appearance; it aids with bowel movements; and it prevents headaches (which can lead to a difficult day). “It's important that we respect and listen to what our body needs,” she says. “As I always mention to my clients, we are the managers of our body and our organs are the employees — treat them well and they'll treat you well back.”
How Much Water To Drink
When it comes to how much water to drink each day, how much is enough? Le Mire says that although general recommendations advise dividing your weight (in pounds) in half to determine total ounces per day, various factors also affect the body's needs. “This includes age, physical activity level (duration and types), chronic diseases (such as heart and renal failure), and even acute illness that may include fever, diarrhea, and vomiting,” she says. “Although the general calculations can be used as a start, it's vital that people listen to their bodies, too. They are designed to survive.”
Le Mire says to think about the last time you felt dehydrated — how did it start? “You may have developed a headache or dry lips; that’s our body's way of letting us know we need to drink fluids,” she says. “Signs of dehydration begin at about 5% of body fluid loss. It's beneficial to drink water throughout the day to continue hydrating your body.” That said, she says for individuals who may have gastrointestinal issues or a history of gastric bypass surgeries, they may benefit from drinking fluids before and after meals to aid with fluid intake and limit possible discomfort.
And if you’re worried you’re not drinking enough water each day, an easy way to make sure you always have some with you is by getting a water bottle handbag — you’ll not only up your health game, but it’s a cute fashion accessory, too. (And you’ll have no excuses as to why you’re not drinking enough H2O!)
If You Don’t Like Plain Water, Try This
Okay, so let’s say you don’t like the taste of plain or lemon water. What then? “I suggest trying infused water — adding fruits, vegetables, and herbs to your water, then letting these ingredients flavor it,” says Olson. As for how long to infuse the water, it’s ideal to drink it within 24 to 48 hours after the infusing process is complete. “It is usually best to drink it the same day, but at least try to drink it within the first couple days,” she says. “Waiting three days is okay, but don’t leave it for longer than that. Make sure you are not leaving the fruits and vegetables in the water for this long though. They should be removed and only the water should remain in the pitcher.”
Olson also says to keep in mind that if you drink the infused water the same day, you can usually refill it two to three times with the produce in the pitcher or cup and still get good flavor from it. “Citrus fruits will remain fresher for a longer period of time, while melons are going to get soft and mushy quickly,” she adds. “Regardless, in addition to providing a delicious flavor with a wide range of combination options, you also get some of the nutrients from the produce and herbs, which further improves your health.”