Got skin issues? Water might be an easy fix.
As I mentioned in last week’s post about chicken skin, or keratosis pilaris, your skin is the largest elimination (getting stuff out of your body) organ you have. To make sure your body can effectively get all those waste products out, you have to pay attention to your skin. One of the easiest, most natural, and simplest ways of doing that is often overlooked in favor of chemical laden body-scrubs, heavy moisturizers, and bizarre celeb-endorsed colon-cleanse regimens.
Now, obviously if you have other stuff going on, and need to detoxify from something specific, or have other advice from your healthcare provider, do that. But, if you’re looking to generally improve your elimination pathways for everyday purposes, drinking more water is an excellent place to start.
And you can start right now! Got pour yourself a glass of water, take a drink, then come back to reading.
I’ll wait 🙂
Ok, now we’ve all done that, let’s take a look at this water-elimination connection. Water actually helps with elimination in many different organ systems, like your kidneys and liver, so it’s important for many reasons, but today we’re just going to look at the skin.
Now, full disclosure here. When I started writing this post, I’d read a lot of alternative health sites that claimed the skin and sweating was essential to “detoxification” (a problematic term in itself), and I was all prepared to write about that.
However, after doing some actual research into peer-reviewed studies and such, it seems this is not the case. Now, science might just not be up with the play here, but for my own piece of mind, I have to go with it on this one. Your skin is not a primary organ of elimination and sweating probably doesn’t do a great deal when compared with the functions of your kidneys, liver, and digestive tract. But, there are more issues at play here – namely the fact that a) water helps all elimination pathways function, and b) your skin is a great indicator of your internal health. So, let’s take a look.
What’s with the skin?
Your skin is your largest organ, and protects your gooey inside bits from a lot of stuff the outside world throws at it. It’s far from just an inactive protective coating, though. The skin has its own functions and processes that it carries out, one of which is the elimination of natural and unnatural wastes and toxins from the body, mostly through sweating. True, your kidneys and liver see to a much higher volume of waste, but if you suffer from a skin condition such as acne, keratosis pilaris, or something similar, it may be your skin’s way of indicating that you have something a bit wrong with your elimination pathways and it’s affecting your skin health.
Now, these issues can be large and complex, and I’m not saying that drinking a bit of extra water will cure your acne, but it will help your body flush out all its wastes a bit easier.
So, we have two issues here:
- Skin as an indicator of overall elimination health; and
- Skin as an elimination organ (though, not a major one according to this research)
Both of these will be helped by making sure you are drinking enough water.
How much should you drink?
First of all, let’s deal with this ‘8 glasses or water a day’ recommendation. If you’ve been reading the blog for any time now, you’ll know I’m not a fan of one-size-fits-all approaches, and this one’s no different. Your size, weight, genetics, activity level, stress level, climate, and life stage (and more) will all affect how much water you should ideally drink on a daily basis.
Chris Kresser said it perfectly: “if you are thirsty, drink, and if you’re not thirsty, don’t force yourself to drink simply because you believe it to be a healthy practice”, and this research backs him up.
Interestingly, I actually have found I feel great on 2,000ml of water a day (roughly), and I’ve seen both skin and bowl improvements from it, but you are probably different. This research recommends more than this, “for the vast majority of persons”. How do you know how much is ‘right’ for you? What do I always say? Experiment!
Not enough water:
- Dry mouth
- Darker yellow pee
- Dry skin
- You’re thirsty
A little too much water:
- Many trips to the bathroom (you might be drinking too much at once)
- Clear pee
- You’re not thirsty
Yeah, biggest indicator you need some more water? Your thirst levels. It’s unnatural to force ourselves to drink when we don’t want to – your thirst signals are there to tell you what you need and are way more accurate than a standard recommendation.
The exceptions to this (unless you are ill, that’s different, see a doctor) are if you’ve been under-drinking for some time and your thirst mechanism is a bit out of whack, or if you live in a hot place/are sweating a lot.
In the first case, try slowly experimenting with drinking a little more each day. See how you feel and see if you start to get thirsty. Do what feels right for you.
In the second case, you can get quite dehydrated quickly without any definite indications from your body. If you’re doing a lot of exercise, live in a hot climate, or both, you might need to push yourself just a little to get some more water. Again, just go slowly, be careful, and see how you feel.
In this second case, make sure you’re getting a little sodium too, as these kinds of conditions can leave you depleted as well as dehydrated.
Fun with water:
A couple of fun tips to get that water flowing.
So I know I just spent the last section explaining how and why you don’t need to comply to water-drinking guidelines, but if you’re a fan of tracking things, or of growing cute things on your phone (um, I’m guilty on both counts), then a fun way to just notice how much you’re drinking is the Plant Nanny app on both android and iPhone. The app does provide an estimate of how much it thinks you should be drinking, but you can manipulate that or ignore it and just use it for fun and tracking.
What you do is: every time you drink some water you log it in the app, and this waters a little cute plant you’re growing. As you continue to log, your plant grows. You can earn seeds to plant even weirder plants. It’s a gentle gamification of logging your water intake that I find pretty sweet. So, give it a go if you’re into that kind of thing.
My BEST water tip is this: Drink 500ml of water right after waking up. This has done wonders for my… ‘regularity’. It also helps me feel more awake and alert in the mornings, right from the get-go.
Flavoured water! No, not the “vitamin’ kind, or sports drinks, by ones you make at home. I’m a huge fan of mint and lemon in water, and below I shared a recipe for an even fancier version using green tea. It’s not only yummy, but beautiful! Look at these photos I took this morning. If that doesn’t get you drinking, I don’t know what will 😀
- 1 2L bottle of water
- 3 green tea bags
- 1 small bunch of mint
- 1 lemon (I used a pink one)
- In a large pot boil 2 cups of the water. Keep the rest for later.
- Turn off heat when it’s reached boiling. Add teabags.
- Stand for 5-8 minutes (longer for stronger tea, but be careful – green tea can get bitter if left too long)
- Remove tea bags.
- Add remaining water. It should be fairly cool now with all the extra water in there.
- Tear the mint leaves and add to the water.
- Transfer the water to a serving pitcher or jar.
- Slice lemon and add to the water.
- Refrigerate until cold.
- Drink and enjoy!
Let me know in the comments: How do you get enough water?