Stop Drinking So Much Water!

Is water as good for us as we think?

I’ve been told all my life to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. This advice pervades our society, do you know where it comes from? The answer: A paper published in 1921 in which the author measured his urine, sweat, etc. He figured we lose a little more than 3% of our body weight each day, which is about 8 cups. One guy weighing his pee. That’s science.

Many of the more recent papers published encouraging more water consumption have been funded by bottled water businesses like Nestlé (Water: neglected, unappreciated and under researched). That’s right, the people who sell you Crunch bars and chocolate milk mix are concerned about your health!

I can imagine the comments section already: “What did water ever do to you?”, “Were you not loved as a child?”, “Hitler didn’t want people to drink water either! Are you some kind of Nazi?”

Ok, ok, put away your pitch forks and torches. I’m honestly not making an argument against water. Spoiler alert! The guy in 1921 wasn’t far off: Men should probably drink 6-11 cups per day and women drink 4-7 (Water, Other Fluids, and Fatal Coronary Heart Disease).

I’m sometimes baffled by how much disagreement exists on even the simplest issues. That’s the real reason I am writing this. I had stumbled upon a dissonant voice about my health which brought confusion to me.

Last year I had a few minor back injuries—the kind where I’d say “I threw my back out.” After each injury, for a few days, I would ask my wife to get the baby out of the car seat and carry the water bottles in from the garage for few days until things got back to normal. She either felt sorry for me or got sick of me being a weakling and started asking me to plank with her for a minute at night. I took the hint, it’s hard to plank for a minute but before bed she’d ask me, “Do you want to plank with me?”

I’d lie and answer, “Yes.”

I had no idea if it was doing any good. We didn’t plank every night but probably more often than not she’d count to 60 as we faced the ground together. After a few months I noticed I hadn’t thrown my back out. It could be luck but I feel like the planking probably did strenghten me and prevented injury.

Tiny habits can build if you let them and so I found myself on Youtube yesterday learning about the health benefits of planking… Then youtube started recommending videos with titles like “The WORST Ab Exersize Ever (STOP THIS TODAY!)”. It had a thumbnail of a man planking. The video is delivered by a very fit young man telling me not to plank. Is it possible that 99% of everybody is wrong and he is correct? How can you be sure? Do I need to perform primary research and clinical studies to find out? It’s an exhausting rabbit hole to inhabit.

And it’s everywhere. Vegan and paleo diets are almost diametrically opposed, yet we almost can’t avoid testimonials from practitioners of both diets. Are they both independently the one true diet for mankind? Can different things be good for different people? Or is there a single silver bullet? Are the millions of healthy people eating both grains and butter just lying to themselves about how good they feel?

What I’ve found and what helps me rise above this noise and confusion is to regularly cut it out. Cut out everything for a few moments every day.

Listen to your body. Give it a chance to talk to you. Close your eyes and breathe. If your body isn’t talking to you maybe that’s okay. Do some research, try to muddle through somehow. Pay attention to what works for you. How do you feel after that 20oz Coke? You feel fine? Then maybe that’s okay. Did you feel a crash? Maybe that drink isn’t for you.

I’ve found a lot of success with small scale 1-person experimentation. Healthy habits make room for more healthy habits. Don’t worry whether you are doing the one best thing for you right now. If you want to feel healthier pick something small and make a habit of it. Do something small everyday for a week. Pay attention but don’t overreact too early. Respond to the feedback you get from yourself. Keep streaks alive, unplug from the noise and listen.

RELIEVING STRESS, THE NATURAL WAY

Our lives are chock-full of things that can stress us out. Demanding jobs. Performance reviews. Deadlines. Bills. Social media shaming. Polarizing hashtags, news, and political punditry — the list goes on. These daily pressures are about as common as tap water.

We wrote a previous blog post revealing the hidden secret of stress. We show how leveraging stress (rather than fearing it) can have considerable health benefits.

But what if we could do one simple thing every day to tame the stress in our lives? Science reveals that upping our dose of nature can radically reduce mental and physical stress.

Our team has experienced plenty of stress in our own careers despite the fact that we love what we do. The science behind natural stress relief surprised us. But even before we truly understood these studies, we observed that nature played a role in regulating our own stress levels. That, in turn, led us to develop the Sky Tripping app which harnesses the power of nature in reducing stress.

Nature exposure is a powerful weapon against overwhelm. People living near green space report less mental distress than those in urban areas.1 Hospital patients with window views where grass and trees are visible experience faster recoveries.2 Students attending schools with green space perform better than those without.3 Short doses of nature—even images of it—can calm people down and sharpen their performance.4 In studies from Norway to South Korea, findings are the same: nature is the natural stress-buster.

Nature isn’t just pretty. MRI scans show that nature is good for the brain. When volunteers looked at scenes of nature, their anterior cingulate and insula are activated.5 These areas of the brain deal with empathy and altruism. Study after study shows that even pictures of natural environments can work wonders.

Unfortunately the opposite is also true: exposure to urban settings creates stress. The same study showed that urban scenes caused more blood flow in the amygdala.5 The amygdala processes the common “fight or flight” responses such as fear and anxiety.

Humans need exposure to forests, beaches, rivers, trees, and things that grow. We often find ourselves nature-starved without even knowing it.

In 2008 a major shift occurred. For the first time in human history, more humans live in cities than the countryside.6 In the US, over 80% of the population lives in urban areas, and in many other countries the percentage is greater.7 More people than ever find themselves living without easy access to a natural environment.

But as these studies show, the benefits of nature exist even when you’re not physically there. Remember that hospital patients only needed a view of trees and grass. The MRI volunteers were only shown pictures.

Experiencing the outdoors virtually will improve your emotional well-being. It can also reduce your chances of depression, anxiety, heart disease, migraines, and more.8 It has even been found to increase attentional capacity, positive emotions, and ability to reflect on a life problem.9

RELIEVE STRESS
AND GAIN AN
EDGE WITH THE
SKY TRIPPING APP.

Calming Aerial Videos

Download Sky Tripping today and experience the peace and tranquility of immersive aerial videos in nature.  DOWNLOAD TODAY»

Sky Tripping offers stunning aerial views of some of the most beautiful places on Earth. The films include natural audio tracks which further maximize the stress-reducing benefits. Our users report a powerful relaxation effect and a decline in stress levels as they use our app. Sky Tripping is available in the App Store for iOS and the new Apple TV. Set daily reminders to take a short break while you reap the healing and restorative powers of nature.

Reducing stress is a worthwhile pursuit, but eliminating stressors isn’t enough. Preparing yourself for unforeseen challenges is the key to maintaining mental and physical wellness. Meditation, deep breathing, and walks in nature are all great options for managing stress. Tools like Sky Tripping give you the help you need to develop habits of calmness and focus — no matter what life throws at you.

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1. University of Exeter Medical School, 2014, see also: School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, 2013

2. Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Oslo, Norway, 2015

3. PNAS 2015

4. Matilda van den Bosch, Psychology & Behavior 118, May 2013

5. Korean Journal of Radiology, 2010

6. http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0112/p25s02-wogi.html

7. US Census Bureau

8. Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Oslo, Norway, 2015

9. Oberlin College, 2009