Hydration 101

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Proper hydration is key for a healthy body. But how much water do we really need? Is it the same for us all? What about diuretics and electrolytes?

Proper hydration is key for a healthy body. But how much water do we really need? Is it the same for us all? What about diuretics and electrolytes?

We’re constantly being told to “drink more water!” but how much do we really need?

The more nutritional therapy clients I work with, the more I realize most of us do water so so wrong! Some are chronically dehydrated while others are dutifully chugging away, accidentally flushing critical electrolytes.

Given just how important proper hydration is for good health — dehydration can cause or contribute to fatigue, irritability, cravings, cramps, headaches and migraines, heartburn, constipation, and joint pain — let’s cover some very important hydration basics.

Hydration 101

Make sure your’e drinking enough…

The basic water equation I like to follow is:

Body weight ÷ 2 in fluid ounces + # fluid ounces of diuretic beverages consumed

Of course, you don’t need to stick to this number exactly (like, down to the drop). But it’s a good ballpark figure. And it is dependent: for example, pregnant women and those working up a good sweat — whether that’s the result of a strenuous exercise or the high temperatures — will require more hydration.

The water content of food is something to consider here as well. And I’m not just talking about soups but also water-rich fruits and veggies. The more water in your food, the less water you will need to drink.

… but not TOO much…

For the average individual, it’s not advised to drink much more than 100 ounces of water a day. It’s also important to spread your water intake out throughout the day and not drink your, say, 75 ounces of water all at once since over hydrating flushes electrolytes. Ironically, this dehydrates the body and can have other negative consequences.

Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals that are are vital for the normal functioning of the human body. They’re responsible for directing water (and nutrients) to the areas of the body where it’s needed most and maintaining optimal fluid balance inside the cells. They also carry electrical impulses across the cell and to neighboring cells in order to promote muscle contractions and nerve impulses. Symptoms of electrolyte imbalance can include: diarrhea, spasms, muscle aches and weakness, and fatigue.

… and not while eating.

You know that advice to drink a lot of water while you’re eating to fake the feeling of fullness and prevent overeating? Well it’s just so absolutely terrible on so many levels. Not only do, um, WE NEED FOOD and enough of it to be healthy and thrive, but drinking immediately before, during, or immediately after a meal also dilutes gastric juices. This inhibits proper digestion, causing GI distress (bloating, gas, discomfort) and irritating the gut lining. Since proper digestion and gut health are key to a healthy body, we certainly don’t want this!

And so I suggest trying not drinking (much) water within ten minutes of starting and finishing your meal. Of course, if you need to take medication or supplements with food then by all means drink! But do try to limit it to just enough water to get the pills down.

Related Post: 3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Digestion ASAP

Quality matters…

The Environmental Working Group recently conducted a three-year study that assessed 20 million drinking water quality tests performed by water utilities since 2004. They found a total of 316 contaminants in water that was supplied to 256 million Americans in 45 different states:

  • 97 agricultural pollutants (including pesticides, chemicals in fertilizers, and manure-laden runoff)
  • 204 industrial chemicals from factories and consumer products
  • 86 contaminants linked to urban areas
  • 42 pollutants that are byproducts of the water treatment processes
  • Of the contaminants, only 114 were subject to government regulation or safety standards as set by the EPA
  • (Environmental protection Agency). Frighteningly, the other 202 were not.

Needless to say, we don’t want these chemicals piling on top of our body burden and stressing out our livers!

Related Post: 10 Ways to Give Your Liver Some Extra Love

… but bottled water is NOT best.

There’s actually even less oversight of the quality of bottled water than there is of the quality of plain old tap water. The FDA does not require any quality testing for bottled water. It should really start, though, considering that in the past several years, some brands of bottled water have been recalled due to contamination with arsenic, bromate, cleaning compounds, mold, and bacteria.

And of course, bottled water bottles are a significant source of plastic pollution. And yes, we should care about this, even if just for selfish reasons — we simply can’t be healthy if we’re living in an unhealthy polluted environment.

A quality water filter is one of the best investments you can make in your health.

And though an upfront investment, a quality water filter will save you a lot of money in comparison to bottled water.

Filtered water pitchers are OK, but I personally can’t stand the idea of the water sitting in plastic (remember, BPA-free is a load of B(P)S!) and they don’t filter out the many of the contaminants commonly found in water.

I recommend a whole house water filtration system or a Berkey (which is a portable tabletop filtration system), the latter of which I’ve been using for years ago — it is probably the smartest purchase I have ever made. It’s also the top water filter choice among doomsday preppers, and those guys do not mess around. (Since I rent, this is the best option for me currently — once I purchase a house, I will likely invest in a whole house water filter.)

Here’s a handy chart comparing Berkey water filters to others:

There are many different sized Berkey water filter options (and I certainly suggest purchasing a bundle option that comes with fluoride filters):


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  1. I’ve never heard of it but will need to do research! Why do you like it better?