Water is the primary chemical compound in our bodies, comprising over 60 percent of our body mass. Water plays such a key role in carrying nutrients to our cells and eliminating waste products that even low levels of dehydration can affect mental functioning and energy levels, and chronic dehydration can presage serious health consequences. Consider some of the lesser-known signs of dehydration:
- back pain
- migraine headaches
- high (or low) blood pressure
Drinking sufficient amounts of high-quality water is one of the simplest and most accessible ways for anyone to improve or maintain overall health and well-being. Staying hydrated is especially important in warm summer months, yet our bodies require the same level of cellular support in cooler months as well. Here are five ways to ensure your body stays hydrated.
Drink water upon rising
Every night during sleep our bodies lose water through perspiration and respiration. We actually weigh less in the morning due to water loss. Drinking a glass of water upon rising helps replenish that loss. Add some fresh-squeezed, organic lemon juice to a mug of warm water for some added vitamin C and alkalizing properties. Organic lemon juice can provide a taste enhancement for those who are transitioning from less healthy beverages to drinking more water.
Drink water between meals
The optimal time to drink water is between meals. Traditional naturopath and Certified Clinical Nutritionist David Getoff advises that water consumed with food does not have the same health benefits as drinking pure water on its own. In addition, drinking too much water with meals can dilute stomach acid and hinder digestion. Digestive juices should include saliva produced by chewing, rather than sips of water. If you desire something to drink during a meal, take only a few small sips of water so as to not interfere with digestion.
Drink water in sufficient quantities
The long-standing “8 x 8” prescription to drink eight 8-oz cups of water a day has come under scrutiny as being one-size-fits-all advice that is not backed by science. The bottled water industry has been accused of promoting high levels of water consumption to sell its products. Furthermore, drinking too much water can cause hyponatremia (low sodium blood levels), a state in which cells become swollen with water, thus endangering the brain. While most cells can shed excess water, the cells in our brains are more sensitive and highly reactive to swelling. Hyponatremia is most common in athletes who must supplement their sodium levels to replace electrolytes after extreme exercise. So, how much water should we drink? Multiple factors influence how much water each individual needs to consume, including:
- exercise level
- health conditions
- heat and humidity
- caffeine and alcohol consumption
One useful means of determining how much water to drink is simply to listen to your body and drinking water as soon as you feel thirsty. Note, however, that the thirst mechanism can decline with age. Elderly adults are encouraged to drink water on a regular basis regardless of their thirst sensation. Another means of gauging water consumption is urine color. Your urine should be very light yellow in color. Dark yellow urine is an initial sign of dehydration. You should also be aware that urine color is affected by supplements, especially riboflavin (B2), which can turn it bright fluorescent yellow.
Drink water, not sports drinks, to rehydrate
The best fluid for rehydrating, after exercise is pure water. Although multiple sports drinks market their unique benefits for electrolyte and mineral replacement, most are high inharmful ingredients, such assugar, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, food coloring, and artificial flavors. Many healthcare professionals advise against eating sugar (including fructose, prominent in fruit juices) after exercise. A far better way of replacing electrolytes and minerals after exercise is to add a small quantity of unprocessed, natural salt, such as Himalayan salt, or a high-quality mineral supplement to pure water.
Drink high-quality water
Since water is the indispensable liquid in our cellular makeup, drinking high-quality water is essential. Nevertheless, it can be challenging to weigh the many options available. Dr. Joseph Mercola (Mercola.com) suggests avoiding bottled water, not only for the environmental hazards created by disposal and the potential of plastic leaching into the water itself, but because bottled water may not be any purer than what comes from your tap. He also advises against:
- unfiltered tap water
- fluoridated water
- distilled water
One of the best drinking water options is living water from a gravity-fed mountain spring (go to Findaspring.com
for sources). If spring water is unavailable, the next best option is an in-home filtration system, which we’ll address in our next article. Water not only quenches our thirst, but provides our bodies with its most essential ingredient for survival. Simple measures for obtaining optimal hydration can be practiced year-round. Whatever the season, drink sufficient quantities of high-quality, pure water and your body will reward you with improved health and enhanced well-being.