Seeking better health? Being hydrated, as you will learn below, is essential for your body to run better. Whether your goals are better energy, disease risk reduction, healing, better skin, healthy aging or optimal performance — or all of these — to stay hydrated is essential.
We’ve long been told that hydration means getting in the “right” amount of water. To that end, many of us work — even struggle — to get the recommended half our body weight in water or eight 8-ounce glasses or whatever rule you were told. What if this isn’t actually better or, more importantly, hydrating your body effectively?
Am I A Sponge Or A Hose
To stay hydrated, our bodies must absorb and retain our water. The GREAT news is that as you become a sponge, you likely need less water, it just needs to be better quality. A sponge collects and retains water. This is what your cells do with the water you take in via drinking and eating IF it’s better quality water.
What is Better Quality Water
Stop right now if you are thinking this sounds expensive. . First, remember I said you likely need less water than you are currently forcing or struggling to consume. So even if you are buying water, less means less cost. Key factors affecting water quality are pollution, food processing, soil health, aging pipes, water treatment, fortification and filtration.
Different Types Of Water
• Tap Water: missing minerals
• Spring Water: may contain minerals, but not if it’s been filtered
• Mineral Water: flat or sparkling, contains some minerals
• Fortified: Depending on the specifics, may contain vitamins or other nutrients, but also may have key minerals filtered out. For example, an alkaline water could be filtered tap water that’s had its minerals filtered out, but with calcium added back in to achieve alkaline pH levels.
• Filtered: Any of these types of water that have been filtered will have had impurities but also minerals removed.
The water you want to consume most often should be free from impurities and full of minerals — the big ones (potassium, magnesium, sodium) and the numerous trace minerals the body relies on for all its different functions.
Will Flavored Water Help You Stay Hydrated
Water flavor may help you consume more, but it may also be working against your hydration and other health goals. Sources of flavors, even “natural” ones, can challenge the body.
Added sugar can actually keep the body from absorbing water in the intestines. Non-nutritive sweeteners (e.g. aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia) can alter oral and gut microbiome in healthy individuals even at low levels of consumption.
Likewise, they all impact sweet cravings (being 100s and 1000s times sweeter than fruit) and the artificial ones interfere with your body’s glycemic response.
Not all flavor is bad; adding lemon or lime juice to water can actually help trigger your body’s alkaline forming capabilities for the intestines, leading to a healthier environment for good bacteria (probiotics).
Adding frozen fruit (especially organic) to your water can help you get important antioxidants as well as flavor.
Getting In Better Quality To Stay Hydrated
If you consume filtered water, you will want to replace the minerals lost. If you consume spring or mineral water (unfiltered), you likely still need to get in electrolytes to ensure that your body will bring the water into the cells and keep it there.
Electrolytes — potassium, sodium, magnesium — are foundational to proper hydration. Yes you can get electrolytes from food but no, most of us are not getting in enough to be hydrated.
- Potassium: The recommended daily allowance of potassium is about 2500-3500 mg for an adult. To put that in perspective, one banana is at most 400 mg. And supplementing potassium above a few hundred milligrams isn’t optimal for your kidneys and overall health.
- Sodium: Many of us are avoiding salt and sodium after years of learning about its “harmful” effects. True, too much sodium, especially from poor quality, highly processed foods and beverages is not better. But to be hydrated we need a better balance of potassium and sodium.
- Magnesium: Over 70% of the US population doesn’t meet the baseline amount of magnesium recommended to prevent disease. Magnesium helps our cells turn off the stress response. And stress affects your ability to properly absorb water. The adrenal glands produce the hormone aldosterone which tells your body how much water to absorb. When we are continually stressed, and the adrenal glands are taxed, this hormone may not be produced in adequate amounts. Adrenal fatigue = low aldosterone = impaired water absorption.
Step away from the sports drinks and electrolyte powders you are about to buy online or already have at home. Most of them have added sugar or non-nutritive sweeteners which is not better.
Trace minerals should be in your water. There are more than 70 trace minerals that we need on a daily basis. But for all the reasons described above including filtration and soil health, we don’t get enough from our food or water today.
In supplements, typically a few are emphasized, and not always in a form that the body recognizes and can easily use. Some trace minerals such as lithium, sulfate and chloride may be ones you’ve been told to avoid.
Getting in the entire portfolio of trace minerals in your water by adding them back can be one of the easiest ways to help your water power your body’s needs.
How Much Water Do You Need To Stay Hydrated
It may be that your body needs 32-40+ ounces of better quality water in the day.
• Yes, it’s personal and your needs may shift throughout the year and your life. But as you have just learned, if your water quality is better, you’ll likely need less to stay hydrated.
• Yes, things like caffeine, alcohol, and sugar intake can challenge hydration.
• Likewise, toxins that come in food and beverages, as well as their containers (coffee pods, tea bags, water bottles) will also challenge hydration.
The answer is when you improve the quality of the water you consume, you can likely reduce the amount your body needs to be hydrated and reap all the health benefits.
Take The Water Absorption Test
This easy test developed by Dr Anup Kanodia will tell us immediately (well within two hours) if you need to prioritize working on your water quality and absorption to be hydrated instead of dehydrated more often.
• Do this test at least two hours away from caffeine or alcohol.
• Drink 8-10 ounces of water. Then wait.
• How long can you go until you have to urinate? If it’s sooner than 2 hours (120 minutes) your hydration needs work.
It’s that simple.
Better water quality plays a crucial role in staying hydrated. Drinking clean, pure water helps your body perform all its essential functions which, in turn, raises your energy levels and results in a healthier life. Working with a registered dietitian can help you develop a customized hydration plan based on your individual needs and lifestyle.
If you need help to stay hydrated instead of dehydrated, I can help you. Working together, I can help you improve your hydration in as little as two weeks (for some they feel the benefits within days)! I’ll work on your water quality as well as the other factors that detract from and can improve your body’s absorption capabilities.
Prioritizing water quality and quantity may keep your body operating at its best! Check out my coaching package – I love to work with you to develop a personalized plan that works for you!
***Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice***