Last May, my diet had taken a few too many detours from its unrefined and unprocessed whole foods base. It was catch as catch can, which sometimes meant toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, a lot of coffee in between and hopefully capped off by a reasonably balanced healthy dinner. Of course, there were some sugary pick me ups factored in as well. While I wasn’t feeling terrible, I wasn’t feeling great either.
So when a friend suggested a Boulder group cleanse led by the dynamic Steinbock duo, holistic pediatrician Roy and nutritionist Debbie Steinbock, I jumped at the chance. While it wasn’t my first cleanse rodeo—I try to do at least one intensive (three-week) whole foods-based cleanse a year—I was curious what Roy and Debbie would add to my cleanse lexicon.
I wasn’t disappointed. They presented a very thoughtful, well-designed cleanse diet and supplement guide that urged high quality, whole foods and supplements over sugary, refined, and processed foods. Their cleanse, basically a low allergenic, anti-inflammatory, whole foods diet, had great recipes, smart supplements and intelligent, grounded advice. But what really rocked my world was one particular aspect of the cleanse regarding hydration—the water cure.
What is the water cure?
Here’s the backstory: The Steinbocks had recently started the watercure themselves, less than a year ago, at the recommendation of their friend and mentor Russell Mariani, a Health Educator, Nutrition Counselor and Digestive Wellness expert based in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Mariani has based the watercure on the book “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water,” by F. Batmanghelidj MD.
As the story goes, according to the New York Times, Batmanghelidji (often called Dr. B) had “under the grim conditions of captivity in Evin prison in Teheran, Iran, found what he believes to be a new and remarkable treatment for the pain of peptic ulcers. It started with one patient suffering unbearable ulcer pain late at night. The doctor treated him with 500 cubic centimeters (about a pint) of water, evidently because nothing else was available at that hour.”
And so the water cure was born. Dr. B had stumbled on the premise of his watercure: “You are not sick, you are thirsty. Don’t treat thirst with medication.”
Swallowing the concept
Flash forward to the night of the first group meeting of the cleanse. As the Steinbocks were presenting the materials, I was feeling pretty good about my ability to implement their recommendations. Although I loved a glass of wine and a daily dose of chocolate, I wasn’t addicted to alcohol or sugar. I was addicted to coffee and caffeine however, so I had already started to taper off the coffee and had been on chai for about a week. I was primed and weirdly eager to become a renunciate.
But when we came to the information on the watercure, I started to squirm in my back jack floor chair. My secret shame was I didn’t drink enough water. I didn’t love the taste of our tap water, for starters, and would cut my water with an ounce or two of juice. I drank coffee and caffeine, and often when I peed at night or first thing in the morning my urine would be a dark yellowish color. I knew I was remiss, but I figured a girl had to had some vices. In the big scheme of things, improper hydration hygiene couldn’t be that big of a deal, could it?
It turned out it could be a very big deal. That was the Steinbock’s biggest gift—their introduction to the wonders of proper hydration—and they stayed consistently on message. I was probably drinking a third of the water I should be, and I felt humbled by my reckless avoidance of our most basic human need. And even though the premise of the watercure was drinking half my body weight in ounces (140-70=70 ounces), of—wait for it—warm, salted water a day, I knew something had to change. I dared to disclose: My name was Elizabeth and I was chronically dehydrated.
Glass half full
The very next day I sought to rectify the situation, and I immediately took to the salted water. Before your eyes glaze over and you dismiss me as a kook, we are talking subtle: The prescribed amount was ¼ of a teaspoon of salt per 32 ounces. The warm water felt oddly comforting and deeply nourishing. And the premise? A micro amount of salt functions similar to an electrolyte, allowing the body to absorb and utilize all the goodness of the water. Too much plain water, on the other hand, tends to over dilute the body and get peed out.
Whatever the salt water was doing, I felt great. My skin felt plump and glowing, my urine was clear, and I felt the calming, alkalinizing effect of steady rehydration.
Here’s a summary of the steps of the watercure, as outlined by Mariani. For a more in depth explanation, go to his website. https://www.healingdigestiveillness.com/the-watercure-recipe.html
1. The water we drink must be free of all impurities. Sip, do not gulp your water.
2. The water we drink must be warm. Body temperature water is best.
3. Every ounce of water you drink must contain Celtic sea salt for best results.
4. Drink your warm salted water throughout the entire day. Space it out. Sip.
5. Drink at least 16 oz. of warm salted water within the first hour of waking up each day based on body weight and activity level.
6. The outflow of urine should be equal in volume to the inflow of water. The color of your urine should be very light yellow to clear like the color of lite beer.
7. You must consume half your body weight in ounces of warm salted water every day. If you weigh 200 pounds you need to drink 100 ounces of water. If you exercise and sweat profusely, you will need to drink more.
Much to my surprise, I discovered that proper daily hydration is transformational. But don’t just take my word—try the protocol out yourself.