We are anywhere from 65-90% water. How much of us is water depends on age, hydration, and how you measure it, 2/3 of our water is intracellular. Most importantly we are mostly water.
Water is important for our survival. It is involved in life supporting enzymatic reactions, it carries nutrients and waste throughout the body, it supports good circulation, is involved in thermoregulation of body temperature, aids in the lubrication of joints, helps with digestion (if ingested 15-20 minutes prior to a meal), and supports our acid/alkaline balance.
Surprisingly it is estimated that over 50% of men and approx. 40% of women are living in a dehydrated state. Research has found that people who are dehydrated have a 39% increased risk for chronic disease, 21% increased risk for early mortality, and 50% increase in being older than your chronological age. In other words hydration is a fountain of youth, dehydration accelerates aging.
While we mostly hydrate via drinking, we can also breathe in hydration from humid air and wet saunas, and get hydration from foods we eat including broths and soups. The ways we lose water are plentiful; we excrete water from urination, stool, sweat, breathing, and our skin.
Symptoms of dehydration include thirst, headache, muscle weakness and cramps, dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, lack of focus, dry skin, dry tongue, dry lips, dark colored urine, reduced urine output, rapid pulse, and/or rapid breathing.
A couple random facts about the amazingness of water:
Ice is less dense than water, as it freezes its bonds separate. This is why ice floats. If ice did not float we might not even exist. If ice sank the bottoms of the oceans, they would fill up with ice not allowing life there to grow and photosynthesis to occur.
Water is the best solvent. It can dissolve almost anything. Water is better at dissolving many solids than acid. Warm water will dissolve most substances better than cold.
Absorbing our water
How well you absorb water the water you drink depends on several factors, including pH, temperature, and hardness.
Hydrophobic means it repels water, does not mix with water, think water and oil. Hydrophilic means it loves water, it attracts water. Think sugar dissolving in water.
All cells require water, how does water get from your gut to your bloodstream? 2 ways
- Diffusion – water diffuses across the cell membranes. Diffusion of water across cell membranes is slow.
- Aquaporin channels are channels in cells just recently discovered. They are portals through the cell membrane that allow water to move very quickly into a cell, at about a rate of 1 million water molecules per second! The insides of those channels are hydrophobic with makes those channels behave as if they are lubricated, shunting the water very quickly into the cell.
The reason for this is we have many tissues in our body that need water very quickly or need to release water very quickly. Tear glands for example need to release water very quickly with emotional experiences, or looking a bright light makes your eyes water to protect them, or when you get something in your eye, your eyes tear to try to clean it out. Tear glands have a high percentage of aquaporin channels
Different areas of our body have different levels of aquaporin channels. The gut has a high number of aquaporin channels so we can digest water more quickly to get it to our tissues. Bones and ligaments don’t have aquaporin channels.
Temperature, pH, and hardness of water influence how water moves through aquaporin channels and how well your body absorbs the water you drink.
pH of water?
Alkaline water absorbs better. A pH of 7.4 or higher moves more quickly through the aquaporin channels. A pH of 7.9 up to 9.2 is more readily absorbed and impacts our cells more positively.
pH of water does not change the pH of your body. pH is homeostatic – it doesn’t change that much. Your body has different pH levels at different places and it maintains that pH to an ideal pH. Certain places of your body like your gut and your skin have low pH to kill bacteria. Other tissues like a higher pH. pH of water is not going to change this. So alkaline water does not change how alkaline your body is, though it will help you absorb the water you drink better.
If water is too acidic it will not move as quickly from your gut to your cells. This is why water sloshes around in your stomach too long. Also cold water does not absorb as well.
Hard water is better
Hard water contains magnesium and calcium, this is good! The more magnesium and calcium the more alkaline the water is or higher pH. Soft water is more acidic and therefore not as absorbable.
Temperature, filtered water (of toxins and heavy metals), and mineral content increase absorption rate of water. Slightly warmer water is better absorbed. Cold water and ice water can interfere with digestion and best not to have ice cold water with food, but if you enjoy cold water it will eventually get absorbed, just have it away from food times. Ayurveda and TCM have a long history of promoting not drinking cold water.
Once water is inside of your cells it is incorporated into different proteins, neurotransmitters, hormones, and other biological processes.
Water and free radicals vs. anti-oxidants
Free radicals aka Reactive Oxygen Species or ROS, can damage cells because they are free roaming electrons. Anti-oxidants (like we get from fresh fruits and vegetables) bind up free radicals. Water can act as an anti-oxidant if it can get into your cells. This is why temperature and pH are important. As long as water is not bound to a lot of toxins your water is will contribute to increasing your anti-oxidants. Filter your water, more on this shortly.
In recap, we absorb water better if the pH is more alkaline, if it is warm or room temperature, and hard water absorbs better than soft water.
Does natural thirst keep you hydrated? How much water do you need? And how does that change with exercise or sweating?
When we are dehydrated our brain and body do not function well. Hydration is important! Even just 2% dehydration can impact endurance, and greatly hinder cognitive performance. The most common cause of brain fog is dehydration.
There are some simple tests you can do to give you an idea if you are dehydrated:
- Pinch the skin on the top of your hand, if it takes more than 3 seconds to go flat you may be dehydrated.
- Pinch your fingernail until it turns white; if it takes longer than 1-3 seconds to turn pink again you may be dehydrated.
- The color of your urine can be an indicator too. Pale urine is a sign of better hydration. Urine with a lot of odor or color is a sign of dehydration.
How much water do you need?:
I have been a long time proponent of half your (ideal) body weight in ounces per day, and I hear qualified people still supporting this. Huberman recommends differently, he recommends 8 ounces of water each hour for the first 10 hours of the day. But, I’m not so sure about this amount of water. I had been trying to up my water intake to his recommendations, after several months I did a series of labs and found out my sodium and chloride were low, I had hyponatremia. Turns out it was from drinking too much water. I have backed off to a more comfortable water intake and will retest in a couple months. I am using thirst and urine color as my indicators for how much water I need. I sip water throughout the day for better absorption, instead of drinking a full glass at once. When you drink a big bolus of water, you tend to absorb less. And I add a pinch of salt to each cup of water.
I am trying to get most of my hydration in the first 10 hours of the day as Huberman recommended.
Why the first 10 hours? Your fluid requirements are higher from when you wake up through the first 10 hours of your day.
Water absorption is circadian dependent. The cells of your kidneys and gut is under strong regulation by circadian clock genes. If you drink too much water too late at night you won’t process it as well. For the first 10 hours after waking your kidneys can filter a lot more fluid. Drinking more water earlier in your day may help to keep blood pressure balanced too. 10 hours after waking your kidneys get less efficient at filtering your water. This is so you can sleep good at night and not wake up several times per night to urinate.
It is normal to wake up 1-2x per night to urinate but more than that is not. To reduce excessive night time urination:
- Hydrate sufficiently during the day, learn to listen to your body and check in with your thirst indicator often.
- Reduce fluid intake at night.
- Sip your fluids at night. The rate that fluid moves from your gut to your cells by your fluid filtrates aka gut, bladder, and kidney depend on volume and rate. If you gulp down a bunch of fluids you will excrete them more quickly than sipping. During the day consume fresh water. In the evening sip on some fluids like herbal tea.
How much water do you need during exercise?
On average, drink about a half cup of water every for every 20-30 minutes of exercise. For our yoga practice, don’t drink water during practice. Instead after rest pose rehydrate with a cup of water with a pinch of salt.
Hydration prior to exercise? Hydrating well in the earlier hours of the day as usual will establish a good baseline of hydration prior to exercise.
Researchers have recently figured out a way to estimate hydration during exercise. Because the skins hydration correlates to that of the entire body, a new wearable sweat chip that can estimate hydration status and send it to your smartphone is being used for athletes.
Do not drink sports water or “hydration drinks” they tend to have hidden sugars in them and will in the end have negative effects in your body. If you want to rehydrate after exercise a pinch of Himalayan salt in a glass of water is best.
If you are very thirsty you can ingest about 16 oz per hour until you no longer feel thirst. Thirst can be a good indicator, but not always for some people who are not used to listening to their body.
Be careful with caffeine and other diuretics as these do not count toward your water intake and will pull water out of your cells. Increase water by 50-100% for each cup of caffeinated beverages you drink. Though conversely Deanna Minnich’s research showed a small amount of coffee can improve hydration if it has less caffeine than 3 mg/kg body weight.
Herbal teas, while not caffeinated will slow down absorption because your body has to separate the water from the herbs. Plain water will be better absorbed with a little salt and/or lemon. Drink most of your daily water requirements plain with a pinch of salt (or lemon).
When you are adequately hydrated and water is moving through your aquaporin channels it relaxes your tissues and engages your cognitive abilities. When we have enough fluid in the tissues of your body it signals our brain to be alert enhancing cognitive abilities. And it also enhances physical abilities.
What kind of water are you drinking?
Tap water … bad news 🙁 Much to all tap water contains particulates that are bad for our cells.
The lymphatic system is the waterways, it cleans the water in the body. Since humans have poisoned their own water supply the lymph system has to work much harder to clean the water in our body. Finding clean water to drink will help reduce the work load of the lymph system. I have struggled with what is the best source for clean water.
Municipality water is sick water. It is waste water from cities, toilets, showers, and the likes that is filtered and cleaned and re-used. Some refer to it as pooh-pooh water. Municipalities are struggling to remove medications from the water supply, the water pouring out of your tap can be filled with anything from antibiotics, to anti-depressants, to statins, medications that I would not put in my body voluntarily. Endocrine disruptors from plastics and polyester clothes are also in the water supply. DBPs which are Disinfectant By-Products from the disinfectants used to clean the water are also endocrine disruptors. These influence pH negatively.
PFAs which are contaminants used in pesticides, cosmetics, food processing, anti-stain fabrics, medical products and more is also in our tap water. They are everywhere in our environment and bio-accumulate in the environment and us, they are labeled forever chemicals. Studies have correlated PFA accumulation with many diseases from thyroid issues, to auto-immune diseases to cancers.
Making matters worse most municipality water companies are now using chloramine to kill bacteria in the water. Chloramine is ammonia and bleach mixed together, know what happens when you mix ammonia and bleach? YOU DIE. Supposedly the amount is not enough to kill us, but I wouldn’t be so sure as it is killing off the microbiome. And it can not be used it in fish tanks as the fish will die. If the fish die from it, we will not be far behind. Clearly this is not good water.
Boiling does not decontaminate your water, heat increase DBPs. If you make tea, it is important to use clean or filtered water to boil.
Does your water have fluoride in it?
You may be able to request a water analysis from your water company. It should also have DBPs which won’t mean much to you unless you’re a toxicologist. Instead look to see if you have fluoride added to your water. Fluoride disrupts thyroid hormones, specifically T3 and T4. You do not want fluoride in your water. Fluoride in tap water is usually a waste product of the fertilization companies. Furthermore our teeth do not need added fluoride turns out it is more harmful than helpful for teeth.
Here is an EWG link where you can put in your zip code and find out what’s in your water, along with useful information on how to filter your water.
If you want more of the doom and gloom bad news about tap water you can read more about what is being found in tap water: https://greenmedinfo.com/blog/why-there-no-such-thing-safe-tap-water
Bottled water is NOT the answer
Bottled water in plastic bottles is even worse. First of all the #1 recycling bottles are forever chemicals. The #1 indicates they are single use, they leach plastic molecules into your water, and then they hang out in our environment for “a long time”.
Bottled spring water not much better
As for the natural springs that companies bottle up the water in the 5 gallon water bottles, not sure if they are any better, perhaps they are less likely to leach. However they are required by law to irradiate the water to legally sell it which kills the good and the bad in it, and may add radiation. Also some companies are un-ethical and basically get tap water from the same city the spring is in. Shame on them. Furthermore it is then transported in plastic bottles, many companies trucks are not temperature controlled, under heat plastic leaches even better. And you have the transportation/fossil fuel issues.
Filtering your water seems to be the best answer! Though you need to add some minerals back into your water with either a pinch of salt, or a teaspoon of “sole” in a glass of water. Sole is a supersaturation of salted water.
By the way, clean the mesh screen on your faucet! It is a mini filter. Take it off and clean it out periodically, it accumulates what it is filtering out.
The filters recommended below can filter fluoride but still allow magnesium and calcium to get through, they are smaller molecules than fluoride. More magnesium in your water is associated with decreased cardiovascular disease. This is why harder water is better for you, it increases the amount of hydrogen in the water and elevates pH. A magnesium level 8.3-19.4 of magnesium is good. If below 8.3 you need to add magnesium.
Berkey filters are a medium cost water filter.
Whole house water filters are usually carbon and they are good. They cost a couple thousand dollars to install and couple hundred dollar each year to replace filters.
Pitcher filters less than 100$ can be effective but not all filter out fluoride:
Clearly filtered water pitcher with infinity water filtration does filter fluoride.
Brita’s can be effective at filtering out most DBPs but not fluoride.
Zero cost – let your water sit in a vessel for some period of time to allow some of the sediment to drop to the bottom. Letting tap water sit out at room temperature uncapped or cheesecloth over it does help remove some contaminants. Pour off the top 2/3s of the water to drink. If your water has chlorine in it, this will evaporate also. Chloramine does not evaporate.
If your tap water has adequate magnesium – filter it and use it, it is fine. If not hydrogen enrich your water by purchasing molecular hydrogen tablets. You don’t need to do it for every glass you drink, just 1 or 2 glasses per day. Do not put them in carbonated water or hot water.
Not just any magnesium supplement will do, these tablets dissolve quickly and for some reason that is better. Do not buy water that has hydrogen added, it probably has evaporated. Add molecular hydrogen tablets to you water, drink within 5-10 minutes of diffusing the tablet in water.
Molecular hydrogen water contains a lot of magnesium and calcium and a high pH. Hydrogen enriched water reduces inflammation. Gives some people more energy, and makes some feel better. Hydrogen water also increases anti-oxidants.
Other types of water:
Deuterium depleted water and electrolyzed water are higher pH and are usually adequately filtered. They are ok but not any better than filtered water with a higher pH.
Distilled water has everything removed from it. Not good. Do not drink distilled water.
RO (reverse osmosis) water does remove contaminants but also removes magnesium and calcium. They are expensive, use a lot of water, and you will need to add salt and lemon to your water to replace minerals and electrolytes.
Drilled wells pull the water out of the ground while it is still immature, and it has not been naturally purified by rising through the earth and rocks which filter the water.
The most beneficial water for bodies is water that naturally rises to the surface through the earth and rocks, which naturally filter the water. The best sources are an artesian well or a spring that has been tested for its purity. Here is a link to help you find one. www.findaspring.com
Fresh water like this is now being called structured water and seems to operate better within our cells.
Structured water occurs naturally in nature. Structured water is in fruits and vegetables, animals, and you and me! It is in all living things, including plants.
Structured water is positives and positives binding together, which makes the water viscous and gel like. Usually bonds are positive to negative, but not structured water. Structured water bonds better than non structured water. When water beads up it is the structured water bonding it together. An example would be when rain water lands on your windshield it beads up. This is the structured water which has slightly stronger bonds holding the beads of water together til they get big enough they glide down the windshield and join the rest of the rainwater.
Structured water is from the works of Dr. Gerald Pollack. Water is beyond liquid, ice, and steam, there is a 4th phase, a “gel like” component, this is more viscous and alkaline than other water, it is crystalline like. When water is being frozen or melted it passes through this 4th phase and then turns back into water or ice. (You can find more information in his popular book “The Fourth Phase of Water Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor”.)
Structured water is magnetized and can also hold energy and give energy like a battery! And it’s also an anti-oxidant in the body reducing free radicals, probably even more so than non-structured water because it is from nature and foods that also have anti-oxidants in them.
Structured water or Phase 4 also called EZ water, EZ = exclusive zone, because this phase of water excludes impurities like ice does. It is H3O2 and also called living water and crystalline water.
Structured water is easily absorbable by our cells, it is hard and has a higher pH.
Foods can increase our hydration as well, and water from foods is well absorbed. It has been found that water in foods is structured water. When we eat plants, fruits, and vegetables with a high water content, this is the water we are getting.
Deanna Minnich’s blog highlighted several studies supporting the benefits of structured water, while the studies are done on animals this will pave the way for studies to be done on humans. A 2020 study done on race horses discovered structured water for 4 weeks improved hydration, improved upper airway health, and improved HRV or heart rate variability.
In another study female mice drank either pure structured water or tap water for 2 weeks prior pregnancy, had positive effects on reproduction. It is speculated the improvement was due to the magnetization of structured water being better at reducing oxidative stress and improving cellular growth.
Some of the non-structured water we drink can turn into structured water inside our body when we are exposed to sunlight, infrared light, or when we are grounding with the Earth. We can get more of this water by eating fruits and vegetables that contain lots of water. Spring water, mountain water, and glacial melt water are all higher in structured water.
I did come across two devices that claim you can swirl in your water to make your water structured. I have both of them and do use them. I notice a difference in how the water feels in my mouth when I use them. Here are the two companies I know of:
Available in the States.
Available in Asia (and possibly in the states too).
Places in the world that tout to have healing waters, such as the Ganges in India, it is now known these places have high amounts of structured water.
And lastly I’d like to finish up our water talk with research by Dr. Emoto: Words and emotions can alter water. Water is living.
Years ago there was some interesting research on water done by Dr. Masaru Emoto. He wrote words on bottles of water, some words were positive emotions like love or gratitude and other bottles had negative words on it like disgust, fool, or evil. They froze the water, then magnified the crystals from the various bottles under a microscope. The waters with positive emotions had beautiful intricate diamond/snowflake like structures while the water from the bottles with negative words had collapsed, ugly structures with yellow edges. Dr. Emoto demonstrated that words have a vibrational impact that can alter the structure of water. This includes the water in our bodies as well.
Also colors effect water. Certain wavelengths of light and color have an effect on organs and systems of the body, possibly through their water content. For example, water from blue bottles gets infused with a cooling blue light that cools and calms the liver and emotions. And blue is the recommended color for a glass water bottle. For best results, fill a blue glass bottle with clean water and let it sit in the sun for a couple hours. Drink 1-3 cups per day. Want to make it even better? Add some positive words to the blue bottle.
There are quite a few companies now that sell apparel and blue water bottles with positive words written on them. Here is a short blip on this research.
We are 70% water, the planet is 70% water. We are the same. We are made of the same elements as the planet.
The closer we live to nature the healthier we will be.