Maintaining adequate hydration and providing your body and mind with clean sources of energy are foundational habits to build if you want to feel your best throughout the workday. Many patients that come to my clinic with complaints of headaches, fatigue, focus problems, and other concerns are often just dealing with the symptoms associated with dehydration, improper hydration, and/or eating foods that are taking energy rather than providing it.
Hydration Really Matters
Most people are not drinking enough water, or they’re drinking too much of the wrong fluids. They’re not getting enough of the right information, which is pure water that is rich in essential minerals and perhaps, high quality coffee, or tea without added sugar. The right forms of hydration allow the cells in your body to function well for you.
Your body is an aqueous environment. Your brain is a highly aqueous environment. If you don’t have adequate hydration and minerals, you will not feel good. You’ll be tired and possibly dizzy, your blood pressure will fluctuate, you might get palpitations and headaches, and your muscles may cramp on you or feel fatigued. This happens frequently to individuals because they’re not paying close attention to their hydration.
Keep a bottle—preferably glass, not plastic—full of pure water with you throughout your workday. You can even buy mineral waters or keep a pitcher that filters water in your office. Consider also purchasing trace minerals, which you can get from health food stores, and putting a few drops into your water to give your body back the 70+ different trace minerals it uses to function well. This will keep you hydrated, and reduce cravings, stress responses, and other issues. If you start to feel hunger or a craving for something, drink a glass of water or unsweet tea and then wait and see if the craving passes. It often will. This is a powerful habit to reduce unhealthy eating behaviors and frequent snacking.
And don’t forget to encourage your coworkers to drink some water, too. Share the knowledge with your organization.
Nutrition: Stop Snacking!
When it comes to nutrition, we don’t need to snack all day long. Our bodies are designed for periods of feeding and periods of fasting. Fasting doesn’t mean 24-48 hours—it can, and it can be very good for you—but here I’m talking about giving your body a break from eating. An ancestral pattern of eating was perhaps once or twice a day.
The best pattern is to encourage people at your organization to focus on eating clean foods rich in nutrients and then fast in between eating these foods. If you feel like snacking, take a 5-minute break to hydrate, stretch, get some natural light exposure, and perhaps do a few minutes of light calisthenics. This will turn off hunger and provide a sense of wellbeing which reduces unhealthy cravings and improves focus. Another option is to have a positive conversation with a friend.
Try to avoid snacking altogether unless you have a medical condition that requires you to eat frequently. Also, try not to snack on fruit during the day. Fruit is good for you, it’s full of phytonutrients and fiber, but it also contains sugar, so it will create an insulin response. It takes your body out of a fasting state and puts it in a fed state.
Historically, we would have probably spent anywhere from 14-18 hours in a fasting state and 6-8 hours in a fed state. Now, the average American spends 16 hours a day in a fed state and 8 hours in a fasting state. This is a complete reversal of the approach to nutrition that our bodies were designed to utilize. This influences weight gain, metabolic diseases, and paradoxically makes us more tired rather than increasing our energy.
Escape Nutritional Stressors
Finally, get the nutritional stressors out of your work environment. Instead, create a culture around nutritious foods.
What’s a nutritional stressor? The food equivalent of a cigarette. Processed foods, fake foods, artificially engineered foods that concentrate salt, sugar, fat, and glutamate, or foods that lack fiber and nutrients. These types of foods have been engineered to manipulate your reward system, give you a dopamine and endorphin response, and cause you to not be able to stop eating them. Once you taste it, you can’t stop eating it.
Nutritional stressors take our energy and our health, contribute to chronic diseases, and provide no nutrition to the body whatsoever. They’re not satisfying and they don’t result in you or your employees or coworkers coming back into the workplace more energized or focused. It’s no different than taking a nicotine break.
Create an environment where you support proper hydration and nutritious foods. Lead by example: do this for yourself first. Start eliminating nutritional stressors from your work environment. If you can create that environment and teach your coworkers or employees, your entire organization will be well on their way to better health.
Let’s work toward becoming healthier organizations together. Don’t wait on the healthcare system to solve this problem for you. The healthcare system can only put band-aids on these problems. Limit your need to rely on that system by adopting these key habits. Begin to do this yourself, and work with your coworkers to build a culture around good health. Do this for you, your family, and your community; I promise you, many will join you, as ultimately we all want to feel good and be healthy.
We can fix the problem of poor health in our communities and maybe the next generation will get to experience life from the foundation of good health instead of living with poor health.
If you’re interested in personalized healthcare, you’re exactly where you’re meant to be. Please enjoy the free resources available to you. For those deeply curious about their most authentic health, I also recommend my book, Authentic Health.