Water is the basis of all life and that includes your body. The muscles that move your body are 75 percent water. Your blood, responsible for transporting nutrients throughout your body is 82 percent water. Your lungs, that take oxygen from the air to provide your body with oxygen, are 90 percent water while your brain is 76 percent water. Even your bones are 25 percent water!
When it comes to water, most people believe they need to drink more than they currently do and without a conscious effort, this never seems to happen. The wonders of water are well documented, ranging from glowing clear skin and eyes to the prevention of kidney stones. Yet as with most nutritional information, there is so much conflicting information out there, it makes it difficult for consumers to truly know how much is enough.
Without water, a human will usually only live for a mere three days. So essential is this liquid to our survival, that we need it more than food. Science currently tells us we need 33mL of water for each kilogram of our body weight. A 70kg person therefore, requires 2310ml (2.31 litres) a day. We do however tend to forget that many plant foods have a high water content and this contributes to our overall water consumption over the day. Herbals teas and soups also add up. Foods and drinks containing caffeine and alcohol however, draw water out of our body and the more of these we consume, the greater our fluid requirements.
Fruits and vegetables are almost always over 70 percent water so the more of these we eat, the less we need to consume as fluid. Naturally, the perspiration and increased breathing rates generated by exercise increase our need for water but the specific amounts necessary are difficult to determine. Trust your thirst when it comes to this. Thirst is nature’s way of letting you know you need to drink!
Thirst and Hydration
Some people rarely feel thirsty while for others, their thirst never seems quenched. Some people resist increasing their fluid intake as they tire of frequently running to the loo. Yet for others, increasing their fluid intake makes them feel swollen and uncomfortable. With all of these different scenarios, it is not surprising there is so much conflicting information out there. So what’s behind these differences and what can you do about it?
Just because you drink water does not necessarily mean the cells of your body are being hydrated. Imagine every cell of your body ideally looks like a grape. This is the case when your cells are hydrated. A dehydrated state means your cells appear more like a sultana and this can be the result of an inadequate water intake, a lack of minerals or poor adrenal gland function, often due to chronic stress, trauma, excess caffeine or alcohol.
To absorb the water you drink into your cells, you need calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride. Some of these minerals make their home inside the cell while others reside outside the cell wall. These minerals all talk to each other and if one is present in higher concentrations than another or alternatively if one of those minerals is lacking, it can be difficult for water to enter the cell. Physically, when water stays outside the cell, it manifests as a feeling of fluid retention which for some people, is so noticeable, that clothing will cut into them as the day progresses. You can change this by improving the mineral balance of your diet and taking care of your liver.
One of the best ways to improve your mineral intake is to base your diet on what I have come to call low Human Intervention food – low HI food. Most plant food gets its minerals from the soil in which it is grown so food that comes from organic, biodynamic or composted soils tends to be superior in its mineral profile. Green leafy vegies have a broad mineral profile and include calcium, magnesium and potassium. Nuts and seeds are a great addition to any meal or eaten as a snack and they pack a powerful mineral punch! Coconut water, fresh from a young coconut is also a wonderful way to amp up the mineral content of your diet and it can also assist with fluid retention.
People with low blood pressure often feel better with a little less than the required amount of water as more water can dilute their blood levels of minerals. Increasing your intake of all of the minerals above, can however make a significant difference in that low blood pressure feeling. A pinch of pink salt into your water a few times a day may help in this situation.
It is also possible to drink too much water and one of the first symptoms that typically presents in this situation is dizziness (note: dizziness is a symptom of many conditions and not always related to consuming too much fluid). Again, this will occur when the concentration of minerals in your blood become too diluted. So it seems as with most things, moderation is the key.
Your body uses minerals to (among other things) to create electrolytes. Often described as the sparks of life, electrolytes carry electrical currents through the body, sending instructions to cells in all body systems. Electrolytes are also necessary for enzyme production, which are responsible for digesting food, absorbing nutrients, muscle function and hormone production. Dehydration therefore, affects all body systems and functions.
The Basis Of Life
Our health is highly dependent on the quality and quantity of the water we drink. Unintentional chronic dehydration can contribute to pain and inflammation in the body and it can even be involved in the development of many degenerative diseases. So help your body prevent such ills by increasing water intake on a regular basis. Set up rituals in your day to flag your memory that it is time to drink. Start your day with a glass of warm water with lemon juice, for example. Aim to drink water away from your meals as water can dilute the power of your stomach acid, necessary for the optimal digestion of your food. Make drinking enough natural water a habit in your life. It won’t take long for you to feel the benefits. It is a wonderful investment in your long-term health.