Water is the most important nutrient in the human body.
I bet you’ve never thought of it as a “nutrient” before, but it is (a macronutrient along with protein, fat, and carbohydrate) and it’s true: we can go weeks without food but only days without water.
Water makes up 55-60% of our bodies and is responsible for a whole host of processes from flushing toxins and moistening oxygen for easier breathing, to transporting nutrients within cells and maintaining normal electrical properties of cells. It’s also vital to the body’s natural healing processes.
Interestingly, if the body’s water content drops by as little as 2%, it will cause fatigue. And chronic dehydration can cause significant health problems, including digestive (since digestion is a process of hydrolysis), cardiovascular, immune, musculoskeletal issues.
But many of us do not get nearly as much water as our bodies require.
Here’s a simple way to calculate how many ounces of water you should be drinking daily: your body weight ÷ 2, BUT no more than 100 ounces.
Now you can’t just consider all fluids/drinks “water” — NOT all fluid is hydrating! In fact, many are dehydrating. These are called diuretics. Common diuretics include coffee, tea (some herbals excluded), soda, and juice.
So let’s adjust this equation taking diuretics into consideration:
[oz. of diuretics × 1.5] + [body weight ÷ 2] = daily minimum H₂0 intake
Now, there’s something else we need to consider when it comes to hydration: electrolytes.
You’ve probably heard of these before in regards to sports drinks (colored with coal-tar-derived artificial colors and carcinogenic artificial sweeteners… not to go off on a tangent or anything!). Many performance athletes (or at least their trainers) know the importance of electrolytes to proper hydration: water depends on electrolytes for proper absorption.
In fact, if you’re drinking a lot of water but not getting enough electrolytes to compensate, your body can’t hold the water and so will actually be dehydrated.
Let’s let that sink in for a moment…
So how can we make sure we have proper electrolytes?
By adding a pinch of mineral-rich sea salt and a squeeze of lemon to our water!
Why the salt?
Well, electrolytes are substances that ionize when dissolved in solvents such as water. Salts are electrolytes. So when salt is added to water, it dissolves into its component ions. These ions are electrically conductive and help receive and send messages throughout the body, and help facilitate cell hydration.
We want to use a mineral-rich sea salt since these salts contain a great number of trace minerals, opposed to table salt which can be thought of as a processed food.
Some great mineral-rich salt options:
And why the lemon?
Citrus fruits contain calcium and potassium, which, when combined with salt, provide a balance for pH and fluid levels in the body.
Of course, this doesn’t need to be every single glass of water you drink.
(I mean, I’m not going to carry lemons around with me everywhere I go!)
But given the importance of hydration to our health, this practice is certainly something to consider.
I’ve personally found that adding a pinch of sea salt is much easier/more convenient than the lemon — as it is, I already keep a grinder of pink Himalayan sea salt in my desk at work (crunchy confession!!!), so I just grind a little into my water. Ahh… delish. And when I am able to add lemon to my water (most often at home or out at a restaurant) I think of it as a treat — both for my taste buds and my body (it’s the little things, right?).