Written by Dr. Kirsty Gaylor, ND
We know that staying hydrated is important. We’ve heard it a million times. The problem is, it’s often thought of as just an important general health thing that’s great to remember. We often don’t connect specific health issues to dehydration.
Drinking enough water isn’t just “good for your health”, it’s absolutely essential.
The Menstrual Cycle
People who menstruate undergo hormonal changes throughout the month. Usually, the first half of the cycle is dominated by estrogen and the second half dominated by progesterone. A period typically lasts 4-5 days. Of course, everyone has their own unique cycle. However, each person also has an “ideal” cycle. In fact, looking at your cycle length, symptoms, quality of blood, and length of period is extremely telling of your overall health. It's one of the vital signs that can indicate whether or not your health is in balance!
Our bodies want to be in balance, our hormones and period want to cycle regularly. But things can get in the way—nutrients may be lacking, stressors occur, or other health issues arise, and suddenly symptoms appear to tell us something is off balance.
It’s often difficult to identify the root cause of period irregularities. Many people spend years of their lives battling severe symptoms like migraines, acne, mood swings, severe pain, excess bleeding, lack of bleeding, mid-cycle bleeding, and other uncomfortable conditions. Menstruating people often need to take an array of medications, from birth control pills, to pain medication, anti-nausea medication, anti-migraine medication, and so on to treat their discomfort. However, medications typically dull the issues and do not address the root cause.
It is always important to do thorough investigation and tracking of your cycle and symptoms to ultimately get to the root issue of any condition or pain you may be experiencing, but there are a few fundamentals that our bodies require, such as water, sunlight, fresh air, movement, and nutrition, which benefit all people. As much as these seem obvious, 90% of the patients who I treat as a naturopath are not setting themselves up for success by focusing on the fundamentals that I listed above.
This brings us right back to where we started: hydration! Water is one of the most overlooked foundations of health. We are composed of 60-70% water. Our blood is made up of 50% plasma, of which 90% of that is water! If we don’t have enough water, the quality and volume of our blood is impacted and things are just not going to flow as they should.
Drinking enough water and having a good hydration status should be the first place to start when understanding your period and cycle. Before you try to find a complicated answer, start by drinking water. It may seem simple, but it’s unbelievable how much of an impact this can have. Drinking enough water can be part of the root issue of many period irregularities such as acne, cramps/pain, blood clots, low mood, low energy, constipation, migraines, irregular bleeding, insomnia, weight gain, and even fertility issues.
Dehydration may not be the only issue at hand, however it is an integral part of the picture and probably the easiest and one of the most important places to start.
In my naturopathic practice I discuss water intake with almost every patient. We look at whether people are drinking enough water, whether they are absorbing what they are drinking, and whether the water is from a non-plastic source (plastics are a source of something called xeno-estrogens which can contribute to hormone irregularities).
So drink up and don’t under-estimate the power of water!
Some easy takeaways are:
Start your day off with a glass of water, have this be first thing you put into your body
Add a pinch of sea salt to your glass to ensure your are absorbing the water
Avoid all plastic containers and bottles of water as much as possible
The quantity of how much to drink varies from person to person, but 2L of water per day is a great place to start!
To help our community in the pursuit of adequate hydration, we’ve teamed up with the eco obsessed team at lark - a closed loop, “minimalist milkman” style beverage company based out of Toronto.
Lark exclusively uses water sourced from an Ontario spring that is tested and government regulated. Their service uses zero single-use plastic EVER, and there are no micro plastics in their water. It comes to them from the spring in a stainless steel tanker, is stored in stainless steel and then goes into their glass bottles.
You order online, they deliver it in their Lark eco van and come pick up the empties next time you order.
This is an incredible system that allows you to up your hydration, support local business and reduce your carbon footprint!