20 Second Summary...
- We live in a society of chronic dehydration
- 60% of our physical mass it water, and H20 performs many integral functions in our bodies
- H20 effects all cell, tissue, muscular, and mental activates and dehydration is often the cause of, or seriously linked to, a number of chronic illnesses
- Everyone needs different amounts so find the best quantity for your bio-individuality
- Sip your water slowly throughout the day (don't chug) so as not to overburden or flush your system
You’ve heard it time and time before - drink more water. Your doctor may have mentioned it to you, or your personal trainer. You’ve likely even read an article or two about chronic dehydration and what it might be doing to your body. As much as it’s now seeming like a cliché, there’s a reason there’s so much chatter about H20 - it’s SUPER important for our health and vitality, and sadly so many of us operate day-to-day with seriously poor hydration due to chronic stress, an over burden of toxins in our environment, foods, homes, and beauty products, and an over consumption of diuretics like coffee and high carb foods that put a massive strain on our body. All of these issues cause systemic dehydration, which leads to a long list of ailments including heartburn, arthritis, back pain, angina, migraines, colitis, asthma, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high levels of bad blood cholesterol. Why? Because H20 effects all cell, tissue, muscular, and mental activates. Even the slightest bit of dehydration can cause serious health problems, even if not made obvious right away (there’s a lot going on under our skin that we don’t even know about).
Did you know that about 60% of our body mass is water?
Without it, we literally cannot live. Humans will die if no water is consumed after about 3 days, while we can last weeks without eating (not that that's a good idea).
Role of water in our bodies
Water has countless functions in our amazing bodies. Below are just a few of the many many things H20 does for us. Some might be a bit obvious, but others might not be something you considered...
- Moistens the oxygen we breathe
- Transports nutrients throughout our body
- Enables cellular hydration
- Cushions bones and joints and absorbs shock
- Regulates body temperature
- Removes waste and flushes toxins
- Prevents tissues from sticking
- Lubricates joints
- Maintains electrical properties/ improves cell communication
- Empowers natural healing processes
Drink more water, yes. But also drink the right KINDS of water, in the right WAY
The best way to consume water is to sip it throughout the day so as not to flush your system, potentially causing mineral deficiency and even further dehydration.
Try not to drink large amounts of water right before or after your meal, as it will dilute your stomach acid, making it more difficult to digest your food.
Drink filtered water!
Even though many places in North America have pretty “clean” water, there’s still a tonne of things floating around in it that can be harmful to your body. Depending on where you live and how you get your water (ie. well, tap etc.), this will effect your water’s composition, so if you’re really curious you can always get it tested. In the meantime, carry around a water bottle with a filter in it, and consider the various types of home filtration systems that best suite your needs (and budget).
Warm, cold, or room temperature?
I get this question a lot, and in all honesty, I’ve seen research supporting the benefits of all the above mentioned temperatures. In my opinion, I think you should drink what you enjoy the most. It’s more important that you’re actually drinking the water, no matter what the temperature.
So, how much water should you be drinking in a day?
Some people say 8 glasses, some say 3 litres. When you consider the fact that we’re all different sizes, and have different daily consumptions of diuretics and physical output, it doesn't make send that there's one magic number for all of us, does it?
The general rule of thumb is that you want to drink half your body weight in ounces per day. So if you weigh 150Ibs you should be drinking 75oz of good quality, filtered water per day.
However, if you’re consuming diuretics – so coffee, black tea, pop (diet, too), fruit juice, even some herbal teas like peppermint or dandelion root – you’ll need to add 1.5 times the amount of diuretic in water on top of that baseline amount.
Ex. You weigh 150lbs, you’ll need 75oz of water per day. But you also drink 8oz of coffee in the morning and 8oz black tea in the afternoon. That is 16oz of diuretics. You’ll need to add another 24oz of water to your consumption for that day, totalling about 100oz. That’s about 12 cups or just under 3 litres.
But once again, we are all bio-individuals and some people need more, some people need less. Start with that equation. Maybe add a bit more if you’re sweating a lot in a day. But play around with it. See how you feel after a week or so and adjust accordingly.
Blog Post: Bio-Individuality: You're One of a Kind!
But don’t drink TOO much water!
In general, I don’t recommend people go way over the 3 litre mark, as it can potentially flush out your body’s minerals, in fact leading to cellular dehydration. We need a special balance of minerals to maintain proper cellular hydration, and therefore cellular function.
If you find you’re doing the math and your number is coming up to a lot more than 100oz of water (and you're not in fact 200lbs), this is a good opportunity to reconsider the amount of diuretics in your diet. I usually don’t recommend people have more than 2 cups of diuretic beverages in a day for that very reason.
Another great way you can maintain proper mineral balance is to add a pinch of high quality sea salt to your water!
You can’t really taste it and it will do wonders for your electrolyte balance, and your adrenal health as well, as your adrenal glands rely heavily on a balance between sodium and potassium to function properly.
Other hydrating beverages/foods
Truth be told, pure, filtered water is the best (and only) thing you should be drinking for hydration goals. However, there are some foods and beverages that you can add in to help keep your body hydrated and happy, especially in the hotter months. Pure organic coconut water and cactus water are popular choices. Juicy foods like cucumber, celery, watermelon, apples, and grapefruit can also help hydrate. Just be careful with the fruits that you’re not overburdening your body with sugar, as even naturally occurring sugars from high carb and starchy foods can dehydrate the body due to too much stress/inflammation in our system.
Blog Post: How to Have a Well-Nourished Summer
So what about carbonated water?
Once again, pure filtered STILL water should be your main go-to for hydration purposes. But even so, let's take a look...
Carbonated water is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure. This produces a bubbly drink that’s also known as sparkling water, club soda, soda water, seltzer water and fizzy water, and sometimes small amounts of salt or minerals are added. Natural sparkling mineral waters such as Perrier and San Pellegrino are different in that they are captured from a mineral spring, and contain naturally occurring minerals and sulphur compounds, without having to add anything in. Tonic water is a form of carbonated water that contains a bitter substance called quinine, along with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. So let's agree to just stay away from that one, shall we?
But back to plain old sparkling water...I'd suggest sticking with the naturally occurring options of course, and recommend even avoiding any flavoured versions to safeguard you from any strange additives. As far as other wellness concerns, there are some thoughts that even just regular carbonated water can cause gas, bloating, and other digestive considerations, especially when consumed around meals. But we already covered the point that large amounts of water shouldn't be consumed directly before and after eating anyways, so another reminder to work on your water quota slowly throughout the day. If you're working on digestive health, and are concerned about the potential effects of carbonated water, just stay away and keep it simple and clean with regular filtered water as your beverage of choice.
If you’d like to learn more about water and the diseases and ailments related to dehydration, I recommend checking out Your Body's Many Cries for Water by Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj. And while you’re reading it, or any other books for that matter, make sure you have a nice tall glass of filtered water beside you to slowly sip as you learn :)