Hydration: Drink ‘Till You’re Pink

One night last summer, my Raynaud’s was in full swing, and my white-fingered hands were freezing. I had slipped in and turned the air conditioner off when my Spouse-Heater wasn’t looking, and the house temperature was up to a toasty 89 degrees. I then spent an hour in a hot shower and was buried inside my heated blanket trying to get circulation flowing. It had been a particularly stressful day at work, and I figured my autoimmune disease was flaring, which was causing the Raynaud’s Phenomenon, and I was doing everything I could think of to warm up.

After discovering my dastardly plot to cook him and the children alive in the South Texas heat, my husband asked if I’d drank enough water during my busy, stressful day. I thought about it and realized I hadn’t had anything to drink all day. I drank a liter of water, and within a few minutes felt tingling in my fingers as blood started to return.

At the prodding of my genius husband, I conducted a mini-experiment during a week when I was especially busy at work and might have neglected to drink adequate water. I brought 2 large water bottles and bought 2 more at the cafeteria. I made sure that I drank them before going home for the day: My fingers stayed pink, and I did not have that feeling of weariness in my joints that I usually feel at the end of a day.

During other weeks when I was busy, I assumed my worsening circulation and cold hands were due to stress or maybe fatigue. It turns out that when I drank adequate water, I felt less stressed and tired because I was not cold and in pain. It seems obvious now that my husband pointed it out, but increasing the volume of fluid in your body helps push blood to the tissue that needs it most (my cold hands).

Signs of dehydration include dry skin, chapped lips, flaky scalp, headache, sore joints, and constipation. (Did you know that water is what softens your stool?) There might be dark circles under your eyes due to dehydration, or your urine might be dark and odorous from not having enough fluid to dilute the toxins in your urine. It can also put you at risk for a urinary tract infection (UTI) or skipped heart beats from electrolyte imbalances. And if you have Raynaud’s a sign of dehydration might be a lack of blood flow to your fingers. Who knew?

Water is easy to obtain and very affordable, yet many Americans live in a state of chronic dehydration. If you do not like the taste of water, then be creative! Try hot teas and fruit-infusers to add flavor to your water. Ice is easy to obtain, or you could make your own fruit-juice flavored ice cubes as well. I do not love the taste of our city’s tap water, but I purchased a Sport Berkey Water Bottle that has an internal filter and makes the water taste much better.

So if you are frustrated with your circulation and always feeling cold, I encourage you to try this simple fix: Drink till you’re pink (or at least until you are no longer thirsty).

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