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How Do You Properly Hydrate?

Proper hydration is so important to your overall health. No one really denies this. But what is proper hydration? How much water do you drink? How much should you drink? Should it only be water? What about tea? What about coffee? Alcohol? Fruits? Vegetables? Jerky? Nuts?

Obviously, there is much to consider. The standard recommendations for water consumption out there are 8 x 8 oz OR half your body weight (lbs) in fluid ounces.

 

What is the support for these recommendations?

Well not much…

There are many roles of “water” in the body mostly because it is a “universal solvent”, and therefore an awesome transporter.  But, you won’t find true water anywhere in your system – sweat may be the closest at 99+% mixed with sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium etc. and a variety of other chemicals.

Different areas in the human body have higher fluid concentrations so the brain and heart are said to be around 70% water, the lungs, muscles and kidneys 80%, the skin contains 65% and the bones about 31%.

We can lose a lot of water through breathing, urination, defecation, and sweating so replacement is necessary but just plain old water isn’t the only way and sometimes not the best way to replace what is lost.

 

Hydration Alternatives

In nature, we would drink from springs, river, and streams – from bedrock and with a lot of other dissolved solids (aka minerals and trace minerals). Modern sanitation for the water supply has been great from a public health perspective but leaves us with minerally devoid water and a bunch of undesirable chemicals.

I often find that my most dehydrated and tired patients are also the ones who drink the most water. What is happening there? Too often they are not balancing that water with the necessary minerals and actually end up losing more fluid as a consequence.

With hydration be sure to add minerals (electrolytes) for mineral balance, healthy muscle and neurological function. If you ignore this aspect you’ll be crampy, tired, and irritable.

I readily recommend salting one’s water at about 1/8th – 1/4 tsp per quart of water. I have always recommended “Redmond Real Salt” but Himalayan pink salt and other sea salt are OK too.

 

Favorite Hydration Recipes

When I am thirsty, like after a day in the sun or after intense exercise, I will make a drink like these below for good hydration:

#1:
  •    5 cups water or herbal tea of choice
  •    ½ cup lemon or lime juice
  •    ½ tsp potassium chloride
  •    ¼ tsp salt – (less if too salty)
  •    2 tbsp powdered magnesium supplement

 

#2:

This is what I’m drinking right now – My Dry Cream Soda – tangy like Kombucha

  •    16oz filtered water (SodaStream unit to give it some bubbly)
  •    Pinch real salt
  •    Dropper full Ionic Magnesium (Trace Minerals Research)
  •    Splash apple cider vinegar (raw unfiltered)
  •    Splash Choline citrate (Perque) – I like the tartness
  •    Splash vanilla extract – no sweetener of course

 

Additional Hydration Resources

Here is some reading for you around hydration myths. Don’t feel like you have to read them all. The top 2 might be the most helpful – the rest are links to studies for those who like science.

8x8oz myth

What is gel water and why you need it

Major gaps in knowledge related to the measurement of total fluid intake

Drinking 500 ml water induces thermogenesis in normal-weight men and women

Drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%. The increase occurred within 10 min and reached a maximum after 30-40 min.

Challenge the belief that caffeinated drinks, such as tea, may adversely affect hydration.

No significant differences in the effect of various combinations of beverages on hydration status.

 

-Dr. Jerome Craig

 

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