Lately I have become very interested in hydration. Most people are aware that dehydration is not desirable and that drinking water throughout the day is advisable. The reality is, hydrating the body on a truly deep and useful level requires a whole lot more than just drinking plain water.
Many, if not all people in the Western world are dehydrated to some degree due to central heating, air conditioning and a highly processed, ‘dead’ diet that can further ‘dry-up’ the body. We lose around 1 litre of water through our breath and skin at night, so on waking we are all in need of rehydration just to start the day back at a well-hydrated state. We sweat out water when we are exercising, and we can trigger dehydration through excess alcohol, caffeine and chemical consumption. Dehydration on a tiny scale can cause major energy dips, headaches and a build-up of toxicity due to the thickening of the blood and lymph. This results in the slowing of the delivery of oxygen and other nutrients to your muscles and toxins being re-circulated rather than eliminated.
Dehydration on a cellular level can interfere with good cellular communication too. Once this starts to happen, we begin to compromise function of our cells. Getting nutrients in to the cells and toxins out of the cells suffers as does and the cells ability to communicate with the rest of the body, critical to enable your body to self-regulated the myriad of functions that are occurring second by second within the body.
The consequences to poor hydration on a cellular are unending and put simply, can only lead a perpetual decrease in good function and therefore, good health. Symptoms are likely to show up as fatigue; brain fog and poor concentration; poor digestion; hormonal deregulation; aches and pains; sluggish liver and so much more. Also, the body when dehydrated will not be able to benefit from otherwise healthful interventions such as exercise; the consumption of supplements; muscular and skeletal adjustments such as osteopathy and massage. The body cannot take on and hold these seemingly positive, external influences as the body is too ‘dry’, often resulting in negative rather than positive outcomes.
So how do we ensure we are getting in enough water and getting it to where it’s needed most? Well, let’s first look at the common belief that we need to be drinking 3 litres of water a day. I never suggest this to my patients. Having small, regular amounts of plain, non-tap water (due to the chlorine and other chemicals) throughout the day is a good idea, but it’s key to understand that plain water flushes through the kidneys and bladder, which is not at all a bad thing, but this does not provide water inside the cells. A regular flush can keep the kidneys functioning well and the bladder clear of infection, but this is a very different function to the water going in to, rather than through us. To hydrate on a cellular level, which is essential for the good function of all cells, you need to do the following on a daily basis:
• Structure your Water: Every morning, on rising, drink a pint of warm water with the juice of half a lemon or lime. Also, add a very small amount of natural salt, ideally Rose Himalayan or similar and a teaspoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Adding Aloe Vera juice is also very useful. Drink slowly, use straw to protect your teeth and make this an absolute on a daily basis. You’ll soon miss it if you don’t.
Alternate throughout the day drinking herbals teas, plain water, and ‘structured’ water or diluted coconut water if exercising and sweating a lot. Water kefir, if not too sweet,is also a good
• Increase your daily intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. The water contained within fresh produce is in a structured form called gel water. This is highly hydrating. Succulent plants like Aloe Vera clearly hold their water in a gel-like structure, but all water inside vegetables is contained in this way and it is this structured, gel water that the cells utilise really well.
• Eat more ‘swollen’ foods such as beans and lentils, soaked nuts and seeds (see below).
• Eat soaked chia and flax seeds on a regular basis: These seeds absorb large amounts of water that is then taken up within the body: Put chia and flax in a bowl, cover well with water and leave overnight at room temperature. Eat the following day mixed with live natural yogurt, coconut yogurt or great to add to smoothies. If you have a grinder, you will get even more benefit if you freshly grind and soak these seeds. Put 1-2 tablespoons in the grinder and blitz to a rough meal. Put in a bowl, cover with water to about 1 cm over the level of the seeds and leave at room temperature. All the liquid should be absorbed by the morning, but the seed mix should be a little loose, not too solid. You may need to experiment with how much water to add.
• Get your minerals: Having good levels of minerals in the body is also essential to allow the body to take up the water inside the cells. Potassium is key, found in green leafy vegetables, so too magnesium. A master mineral involved in many functions in the body and nowadays greatly lacking in our processed diet, magnesium is found in nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, vegetables, beans and lentils, quinoa. You can greatly increase your magnesium level by having Epsom salt baths – put 2 large handfuls of Epsom salts in a hot bath and soak for at least 15 minutes. Sulphur is also very important, found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower, also present in eggs, onions and garlic.
• Infrared saunas and flotation tanks are also known to greatly improve cellular hydration. If you are lucky to have access to either of these, aim to do so on a regular basis.