WHY WE NEED WATER
Water is the most important nutrient in the body.
About 60% of the body is made up of water. The volume of our cells and important bodily fluids is mostly water. Every living cell needs water in order to function properly. Our bodies can’t store water, so it is essential that we stay hydrated every single day.
There are the many vital roles of water:
- transports nutrients
- cushions bones and joints
- removes waste
- enables cellular hydration
- improves oxygen delivery to cells
- flushes toxins
- improves cell-to-cell communication
- prevents tissues from sticking
- regulates body temperature
- absorbs shocks to joints and organs
- empowers the body’s natural healing process
THE IMPORTANCE OF ELECTROLYTES
Electrolytes are minerals. We need the right balance of electrolytes to properly absorb water, muscle contraction and nerve function. There are five major electrolytes that are found in the body – calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and chloride.
What many people don’t know is that each mineral affects the level of other minerals in the body. For example, our bodies rely on a delicate balance of sodium and potassium. If we eat too many foods that are high in sodium (think fast and processed foods that are seasoned with table salt – pure sodium chloride), then the excess sodium will cause deficiencies of potassium and can impair many important biological processes.
Early signs of dehydration include cramps, fatigue, headaches, irritability, and cravings. If you've been dehydrated for quite some time, more chronic symptoms develop. This includes heartburn, joint pain, back pain, migraines, constipation, and colitis. Simply adding more water to your day is enough to make some of these symptoms disappear.
Hydration and electrolyte balance are connected – remember, water depends on electrolytes for the body to properly absorb it. Dehydration can lead to low levels or an imbalance of electrolytes. You can also flush electrolytes if you drink too much water (more than a gallon a day) or you drink distilled water over a long period of time (distilled water pulls minerals from your body).
CAUSES OF DEHYDRATION
Everyone knows that drinking coffee and other diuretics is dehydrating. But do you know other sneaky ways that dehydration can occur? Some of these are well known causes of dehydration but others may not be.
- not drinking enough water throughout the day
- consuming diuretics (tea, coffee, soda) and not enough water to counter them
- fluid loss from exercise, urinating, bowel movements, or sweating
- sickness that causes fluid loss from high fever, sweating, diarrhea, vomiting,
taking certain medications and antibiotics
- poor function and absorption in the GI tract – most of the water you drink is absorbed through the GI tract via osmosis
Not all water is created equal.
Depending on where you live, your tap water can be filled with heavy metals, chemicals, carcinogens, food additives, waste products, agricultural runoff… I could go on. It’s actually terrifying. Check out the Environmental Working Group for more information on water and up to date information on current environmental issues.
To avoid consuming these toxic materials, make sure you’re using a filtration system for your drinking and cooking water. If you want to take it a step further, you can even use filters for your shower head to avoid getting those chemicals on your skin and breathing them in.
This high-quality gravity filtration system is a bit expensive initially, but you replace the filters every 2-3 years and it’s a solid investment for super clean water. They also have shower filters and a travel bottle for filtration on the go.
These carbon block filters can be installed under the sink or right on the countertop. There are several systems you can choose based on your needs.
This company has ice and water refrigerator filters. They are more affordable filters but they don’t remove nearly as much as the other filters. Still, it’s a good idea to remove as much as you can!
These filters are accessible and affordable, but also don’t remove much compared to the other filters. I’ve used this filter for years but replacing filters became expensive.
This plant based filter pitcher uses BPA-free plastic and a sustainably sourced wood handle. The company donates to charity for every filter purchased. I would still recommend a higher quality filter, but this one is more sustainable than the Brita!
SOURCES OF WATER
There are several sources of water that are available on the market. Here are a few that are worth mentioning:
this can be a great source of water as long as the spring itself is not contaminated. Findaspring.com can help you locate your nearest spring, however be aware that not all springs have fresh, safe drinking water
If you’re looking to increase your mineral consumption then this is the perfect source! Mineral water is full of trace minerals that the body needs for biological processes
On the other hand, distilled water is completely void of any minerals. While it is okay to drink this once in a while, I wouldn’t recommend making it a daily habit. Regularly drinking distilled water can pull minerals from your body and over time lead to deficiencies
This source is controversial in many ways. There is evidence that the water in plastic bottles pulls chemicals out of the plastic itself which when consumed can be irritating to the body. Some companies also use water sources that aren’t the highest quality. While it is a good idea to avoid plastic water bottles as often as you can (reducing plastic waste + your exposure to chemicals like BPA), don’t avoid them to the point of risking dehydration. If you can, travel with a reusable stainless steel or BPA free bottle
This is another good source of drinking water. Just be careful not to drink too much close to or after meals as the alkaline water will dilute stomach acid, which makes it harder for the digestive system to break down food
These are some of my favorite brands of reusable bottles. I literally take them with me everywhere.
Okay so now you know all about water, but how exactly do you stay hydrated throughout the day?
First, make sure you know how much water you should aim to consume a day. You can calculate this by dividing your body weight (in pounds) by two. The resulting number is the number of ounces you should aim to drink a day. For every diuretic you consume, add about 12-16 ounces more.
*Don’t drink more than 1 gallon of water a day – this is very dehydrating and actually flushes out electrolytes in the body
- Start with big glass of water first thing in the morning, before coffee or food!
- Take small sips throughout the day – don’t chug (especially around meal time)
- Add a pinch of high quality sea salt to your water in the morning or after a hard workout – read this post to learn why this is helpful
- Take a reusable bottle with you in the car, while traveling, while going on hikes, anywhere! Fill up a reusable bottle or two in the morning to take with you to work or long days away from home so you have water all day
- Add strawberry, cucumber, lemon, lime, mint, or berries for a refreshing twist on plain old water
- Use a water bottle lid that you don’t have to open every time you drink – this makes sipping throughout the day much easier
- Be mindful of the amount of diuretics you consume each day. Drink a water after having a coffee, tea, or soda
Water is vital to optimal health. Investing in a quality filtration system ensures you’re cutting down on the toxic load your body processes, is great for the environment, and saves you money over time. I recommend finding a high quality reusable stainless steel, glass, or BPA free plastic bottle that you can take with you anywhere to help you stay hydrated and cut down on plastic use.