Amid today's onslaught of fad diets, superfood fanaticism, food allergies, and - yes - even cleanses, sometimes it's easy to forget two of the most health-promoting basics: oxygen & water.
The body can't store oxygen, which is why we must breathe continually. With each breath, oxygen travels through the lungs to the bloodstream and to every cell in the body. Inside the cells, oxygen is required to produce energy so we can think, move, see, feel...in short, so we can live. Without oxygen, brain damage or death can occur within minutes.
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, "The more air you move, the healthier you will be, because the functioning of all systems of the body depends on delivery of oxygen and removal of carbon dioxide." (1) Research support his statement, which is why aerobic exercise is so important.
During aerobic exercise, increased oxygen helps remove more waste products (like carbon dioxide and lactic acid) and release more feel-good endorphins. Over time, aerobic exercise helps us reduce the risk of many health problems, lose weight, boost immunity, feel good, and it can even help us live longer. (2)
Deep breathing exercises are another way to get more oxygen into the body.
When it comes to water, you've probably heard that you should drink 8 glasses a day.
Water accounts for roughly 60% of body weight. A healthy person may be able to survive for 3-5 days without water, but more fragile compositions (like those of babies) might only survive a few hours without water.
In the body, water is essential for detox because it flushes dangerous compounds from our bodies. In addition, the same energy production cycle that requires oxygen also requires water. "Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you feel tired," according to the Mayo Clinic. (3)
Water also helps make nutrients more accessible for the cells. For example, Vitamins B & C are "water-soluble," meaning that they can't be absorbed or used without water to help dissolve them.
The easiest way to measure if you're drinking enough water? Your urine should be almost colorless.
In short, while you may be able to live without tasting the latest superfood, you simply can't survive - or thrive - without oxygen & water. What's more, you can easily increase your health as you increase your intake of oxygen and (in many cases) water. So go ahead and fill your lungs & your water bottle. It might just help your health even more than that cabbage soup diet.
-Emily Wade Adams, Natal Nutrition