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The Importance of Hydration in Regards to Beauty

If you are reading this, you will be super aware of the importance of hydration for health. One of the true measures of health and vitality is hydration, not just for aesthetic reasons but also for the cellular health of the body.

Hydration should be easier than ever now that those of us with the privilege of email access also have access to clean water in our homes (ideally filtered, or even better, spring, or raw water). Yet many people are chronically dehydrated and, despite drinking a tonne of water, continue to experience dry skin. So, what’s going on here? If you guessed the old triad of Kidney-Spleen-Liver organs, then you’d be right! Let’s dive into it a little bit. The Water element rules the Kidneys in TCM, and the Kidney system’s function has a lot to do with your continuous capacity to stay appropriately hydrated. However, since everything is connected, Kidney depletion also affects every area of your health. One of the areas of the body not often associated to the Kidney Water is your digestion. You can think of the Kidneys as the pilot light for the fire of digestion; if the pilot light is on, then we can turn on the fire of the Spleen to cook the food in the pot of the Stomach.

Is your digestion sluggish or suffering? That’s Kidney! But we’ll explore that later. Firstly, we need to stop the pilot light being turned off. So, what depletes the Kidneys? Excess stress, and a lack of ability to adapt to it. Stress is not ideal for our Kidneys, obviously, nor is it good for our hydration! Remember that preventing the depletion of our Kidney energy is one of the best things we can do for our long-term health, and the overall health of our bodies. The Water provides the flowing quality of our Blood, so if we’re stressed, the Liver’s Blood becomes dry and hot, and we are unable to nourish our skin. This is where we would see redness, inflammation or skin conditions like rosacea and eczema. The root is stress and depletion, and it is manifesting as an angry skin or dry skin (it gets more complicated than this, with the Liver invading the Lung to create that chronic dry skin some people get in Winter - let’s just say everything is connected!). If our Kidney, Liver and Spleen systems are strong, we will look well hydrated and supple, like healthy soil. Not too damp, not too dry. Kidney energy allows the water to move in and out of the cells via osmosis, but if there is too much water, Kidney can become overwhelmed (soggy) and if there is too little, Kidney can become dry. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as drinking litres of water a day. Daoist ideas around hydration differ a little from the ‘8 glasses a day’ prescription in modern times. Daoism encourages us to tune into the intelligence of our bodies to regulate how much water we should be consuming and to do our best to consume said water at room temperature, or even better, warm. Drinking cold water, over time, has a deleterious effect on your Spleen-Stomach organ system and drinking too much water can cause issues like oedema and Kidney stress. Drinking cold water when you’re hot can have a depleting effect on the body - think of all the traditional cultures that drink hot tea in the desert. Many martial arts teachers and yogis won’t allow their students to drink water during or after movement practice, in order to preserve the integrity of the digestive system and the Kidneys. If you regularly experience gut issues and you’re drinking cold drinks during or after your workout (this includes lovemaking!), try switching to warm fluids or forgoing water until you’ve cooled down. It will probably have a major effect on your digestion. Water has huge multidimensional benefits, being that it is a fluid that holds intelligence and energy, but we need to remember that we’re only as hydrated as the water our cells can absorb. If our Qi is under strain, the transformation of water from mouth to Stomach to Kidney system will not be able to occur. If your Kidneys are strained, the body will not remain properly hydrated. Rather than drink litres of water, instead work on nourishing the Kidneys and the Spleen, for transformation of fluids and their appropriate use in the body. This comes from lifestyle changes as well as appropriate diet and regular movement. Remember, the body’s tissues are mostly water, so fluid movement forms like walking, dancing, yoga, martial arts, and other forms of movement that activate the joints and open up the fascial lines are recommended to ensure appropriate hydration. Diet wise, focus on eating hydrating foods, especially fresh vegetables and fruits, and less dry foods, like crackers, bread and pastry. These foods TAKE water to digest. And finally, don’t forget fat! Good quality saturated fat supports the health of your cells and their ability to remain structured and plump. If you struggle to digest fats, work with a good practitioner to see if you can support your Liver/Gallbladder function. Inner health = outer beauty, friends. Here’s to hydration!! By Tahnee

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