Most of us have heard it before: “Drink 8 cups of water per day to stay hydrated”. Why? And is the water we’re drinking really being absorbed properly by the body?
Our bodies are made up of mostly water and when dehydration creeps in there are several unpleasant symptoms that can arise. We’ll explore absorption of water in the body, what dehydration symptoms might look like, and how to know that you are fully hydrated for the day.
Sources of Water
What kind of water are you drinking? Is it tap, filtered, or bottled water? Treated tap water often contains chlorine and fluoride, and other unwanted trace chemicals. The best way to know what's in your tap water is to check with the local water treatment facility. Chlorine and fluoride are particularly concerning as they interfere with proper thyroid function (more on this in future posts). If filters are not available to you at this time, one thing that can be done is to leave tap water on the counter overnight to allow the chlorine to evaporate. Bottled water can be costly and wasteful due to the plastic bottles, but the spring water sources often contain the minerals needed for proper hydration. Discernment and research is encouraged.
Common filters such as Brita reduce the chlorine, lead, mercury, and other contaminants; however, the fluoride remains. Another type of filtering system is the Berkey filter, which removes even more impurities from each drop of water including fluoride. Bottled water also may be lacking in minerals that are needed for absorption. Proper research is recommended to know where the water is coming from and what is contained within.
How Do We Know Water is Absorbed?
If you're drinking filtered water and still feeling thirsty, it is because the natural water sources we need contain minerals for proper absorption. Re-mineralizing your water with a pinch of Himalayan salt and potassium, magnesium, or other sources are added for optimal water absorption. This way you're creating a natural electrolyte drink that doesn't contain unnecessary sugars, food colouring, and other chemicals.
Symptoms of Dehydration
When we're not drinking enough mineral-rich water throughout the day, this triggers the release of stress hormones (cortisol and aldosterone) and these concentrate the glucose levels in the bloodstream. There's also brain fog, back pain, inflammation, feeling faint or dizziness, dry mouth, headaches, etc. Dehydration is also linked to several other "chronic health problems including adult-onset diabetes, arthritis, asthma...chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, heartburn, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, kidney stones, etc." (Reference: Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Elson M.Haas, MD with Buck Levin, PhD, RD. 2006)
The best way to rule out dehydration as a cause for a number of health issues is to make sure to drink mineral-rich water every day. If diuretics and sugary drinks are consumed regularly, these can actually do the opposite of hydrate your body.
Are You Properly Hydrated?
The easiest way to detect if you're consuming enough water in your system is to refer to a urine colour chart. By building awareness of how hydrated you are throughout the day, you can avoid the physical stresses imposed on the body from dehydration. It's important to note that some supplements may change the colour of urine to bright yellow due to water-soluble vitamins and that the urine charts available online are guidelines only.
Typically urine is more of a clear yellow and does not have a powerful odour when hydrated. Water that is stripped of minerals is not as absorbable and flushes nutrients in the body. So remember to hydrate with clean mineral-rich water!
Next Week - Exercise
Join me here next week to explore the power of exercise and how physical movement supports your health on all levels (mental, emotional, spiritual, & nutritional health). Until then!
Your Holistic Nutrition Counsellor,