State of Liberty Home Retreats are inspired by nature and aligned with the seasons. Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Five Elements Theory also influence our approach. This ancient system encourages us to follow the natural seasons, rhythms, and cycles of our planet to support balance in our bodies and minds.
Chinese Five Elements Theory follows a five-season cycle. Each season corresponds with one of the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) and supports, nourishes, and prepares the body for the next season – creating a constant cycle of wellbeing.
Every season is interconnected. How you nourish and care for your body in one season will impact how it feels in the next. When in harmony, a strong and balanced water element in winter helps the wood to grow in spring, and in turn, strong spring wood will feed summer’s fire. The ashes from the summer fire will return to the earth, nourishing it in late summer. The earth contains metal, the element connected to autumn, and metal collects water (through condensation) ready for winter.
Each element also has a dominant organ, colour, emotion, taste, and many other aspects connected to it. These are used to diagnose any imbalance in the body. Winter is associated with the water element, the dominant organs are the kidneys and bladder, the colour is blue or black, the emotion is fear, and the taste is salty. Today, I am going to focus on the water element and the importance of staying hydrated.
What Causes Dehydration?
It’s easy to become dehydrated during winter. We often forget to drink because the hormone that triggers our thirst reacts differently when we’re exposed to the cold. We also tend to feel thirsty in response to sweating, so when we don’t sweat in the same way, we don’t get the same thirsty signals. Central heating and wrapping up warm further dries out our skin, hair, and mucous membranes.
Another major cause of dehydration is stress – something we need to be aware of all year round. Stress causes dehydration, and dehydration causes you to feel stressed, so we’re more likely to feel fearful, anxious, and disconnected when we don’t drink enough.
Stress is very much part of our busy western lifestyle, so we need to support ourselves by hydrating and making sure fluids are flowing around the body, delivering important nutrients, and clearing the daily build-up of unwanted toxins.
It’s important to consider your kidneys at this time of year too. They store our vital energy and regulate the amount of fluid in the body. Approximately 180 litres of water and blood flow through the kidneys per day to be purified and broken down into nutritional components for the body. To support your kidneys, keep them warm and well hydrated. Balanced kidneys allow us to feel an internal strength and connection to ourselves.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
During winter, try drinking warm water instead of cold, and ideally filtered or spring. I top up my glass with a splash from the kettle. Drink small sips regularly throughout the day as too much can flood the kidneys, washing away vital minerals and weakening your body.
If you experience an energy slump, try drinking water before reaching for a caffeinated drink or a sugary snack. Water will help balance your blood sugar levels and re-energise you.
What About Electrolytes?
Drinking water is only one part of maintaining hydration. Electrolytes also play an important role. Water is distributed inside and outside the body’s cells and contains various components essential to life, including the electrolytes sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
Maintaining equilibrium between fluid and electrolytes is vital to the survival of the cells. The body very precisely regulates the concentration of the electrolytes in order to allow your metabolism to function optimally.
Electrolytes are actively transported through the cell membrane from the inside of the cell to the outside and vice versa. Sodium and calcium work together and build up in the cell during the day. Magnesium and potassium work together and move into the cell at night, pushing out the excess sodium and potassium. This movement of electrolytes helps to cleanse toxins from the cells.
Our body has a built-in protective mechanism that kicks in as soon as it becomes dehydrated, holding water inside the cells to protect them. It does this by creating a thin layer of cholesterol around each cell. This stops us dehydrating to death, but over time it starts to impact our health because the electrolytes can’t move freely in and out of the cell.
When the flow is disrupted, more sodium and calcium is trapped inside the cells. The cells become stagnant and we start to feel sluggish. This build-up of sodium and calcium inside the cells is part of feeling tired.
Just Add Salt
Good quality salt such as sea or rock salt contains vital electrolytes, micro-nutrients, and minerals which help to maintain hydration, support your kidneys, reduce fatigue, lessen sugar cravings and balance blood pressure.
You should avoid table salt because it’s manufactured sodium chloride, highly refined with synthetic chemicals, and lacking the essential minerals. Rock salt and sea salt are harvested naturally to maintain the perfect balance of essential minerals.
Try starting your day with a pinch of salt in a mug of warm water and note whether there’s a difference in how you feel throughout the day.
1 glass of mineral water
A pinch of ground rock or sea salt
Simply add salt to a glass of warm mineral water and leave to dissolve for at least 2 minutes.
Linseed tea is a very hydrating drink that’s also great for the colon and nervous system. Drinking linseed tea feels reassuring and calming. Gelatinous once soaked, the seeds are highly nutritious, soothing the colon and allowing it to absorb more water.
Linseed tea is like marmite – you either love it or hate it. The gloopy consistency can be a bit off-putting, so if you find it hard to drink, try diluting it with extra water or flavouring it with herbal tea.
2tbsp organic golden linseeds
(Please note, linseeds and flaxseeds are the same thing.)
Put the linseeds in a pan and add the water. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for anything up to an hour. I usually do 20 minutes. The longer you boil it, the gloopier it will become!
Water for Balance, Health, and Happiness
Water is essential to life and our sense of wellbeing. When we’re fully hydrated, all the systems in our body work more efficiently. We feel energised, we wake feeling refreshed, and we feel connected to ourselves, loved ones, and our environment. Fluidity helps us adapt to different situations, be responsive to the demands of life, and move more freely.
We have incredible bodies that are always seeking to find balance and maintain health and happiness. We can make this complex task easier by staying hydrated.
Love Lizzie x