Water, water, everywhere,
nor any drop to drink.
H2O. It is everywhere. Life on this planet would not exist without it. From space, about 71% of the earth’s surface is covered in it (& rising). The average male is about 60% water, and the average women about 55%. With only about 2-3% of the world’s water being fresh & drinkable & only 1% of that 2-3% being accessible to humans, there’s a good chance we aren’t drinking enough of the stuff to function at our best.
There are a ridiculous amount (over 100,000 occurring in your brain alone) of chemical reactions happening in our bodies every second & all of them rely on water. Yet the truth is that when we get that dry-mouth feeling, we often reach for anything but water, thus causing more problems.
When we are in a dehydrated state, our energy drops, our concentration suffers & in athletes (read; Humans) physical performance decreases. So, what do we do? We grab a coffee, eat some food or chug back a branded “sports drink”. Is any of that water? Nope.
Thousands of years of evolution has led to mammals being completely reliant on water. The amount & frequency varies across all species and as the age-old saying goes; “you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.” Other species seem to have a keen awareness of their water needs & when thirsty, they only seek water.
It’s only really been in the last 10-15,000 years that humans have included raw milk as a nutritious accompaniment to our diets – no other mammal consumes milk past infancy. Alcohol, juices and brewed plant-based drinks are also synonymous with our agricultural prowess over the millennia. However, it’s important to note here that the process of making alcohol kills bacteria and so historically it was consumed more out of necessity rather than joy (although its effects have been correlated with ritualistic human celebrations across all cultures since forever), that traditionally, juices are made fresh & consumed immediately and I personally would argue that if it wasn’t for coffee, the age of enlightenment in the west might have never begun.
But none of these liquids are water. They may temporarily relieve some symptoms of dehydration, but nothing hydrates like water. In fact, any liquid containing solutes – juice, coffee, teas – actually start the digestive process because enzymes are needed to break them down and “digest them” (sorry those who frequently fast, that coffee is technically “breaking the fast”). Another thing to note here is that alcohol & caffeine are diuretics, meaning they promote dehydration and leave your body in a deeper hydration deficit!
So how do you know if you’re hydrated? Firstly, ask yourself if you have had any water today. Humor me and have a little sip before you go any further.
You good? Ok sweet. Moving on.
So, we all know the “8 glasses a day” rule but who actually sticks to that? But around your workplace or classroom, who is really drinking that much water per day? I guarantee that if you actually monitored it, less than half of the people you know would be drinking that much water. But I’ve always wondered how 8 glasses a day can be right for everyone. I mean, I’m 1.96m tall, 95kg and moving a lot. So how can 8 glasses be enough for me but also enough for my 1.68m tall, sedentary female friend who weighs 65kg?
As a CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach, I use an equation from Dr F. Batmanghelidj. He suggests that for normal hydration, take your body weight (kgs), then multiply it by 0.033 to get your daily intake in litres. For example, 95kg x 0.033 = 3.1 litres. This provides a good baseline intake for our body’s billions of chemical reactions to take place & keep us functioning at our best.
Take a second to run the calculation for yourself. Does that seem like a reasonable amount? Are you already in that ballpark? If so, then perfect. If you aren’t then make a point of drinking a little more each day until you get to the baseline. If it’s a drastic difference, you don’t want to flood your body with water immediately. So, take your time and increase the amount you drink by maybe 1-2 extra cups per day until you get to your goal.
I recall doing this with a client who initially weighed in at 150Kg, that’s just under 5Lts per day! Do you think they were drinking that? Not even close. So, all we did for a month was focus on building them up to consuming their baseline. Over a 4-week period, they lost 10kg. By that stage, the recalculation called for 4.5 litres per day & they were already in that zone.
A couple of fine-tuning tips: take a good look at your liquid intake. How many drinks are you having each day that aren’t water? If you were to curb the habit of reaching for a juice, soda or (especially) coffee & have a water instead, you’ll start to feel a noticeable difference in your overall energy. Your concentration will improve, and your irritability will likely decrease too. Plus, for all you athletes out there (i.e. humans) your physical capacity will also see benefits.
And as much as it may pain you to hear, I also suggest that you avoid drinking chilled water. While it may offer a seemingly immediate relief, chilled water actually takes longer to hydrate us because our bodies have to warm it up inside of us before absorbing it.
Lastly, if you don’t like the taste of the water, try a different source. Council tap water is a solution with a myriad of chemicals added to kill bacteria & many buildings have pipe systems that contain lead. This is why I always carry my own bottle, refill at filtered water stations or aquifers. If I need to buy water, then it’s pure spring water from a glass bottle (of course). If you have changed your source & still don’t like the taste of water, try adding a pinch of New Zealand sea salt or pink Himalayan rock salt. If it tastes salty, add a bit of fresh water to balance it back out again. Salt will not only have a positive effect on the taste, it will also help absorption by maintaining electrolyte balance as those chemical reactions continue to take place.
This is a very important and crucial topic. Second to breathing, staying hydrated is the most important thing for our individual survival. We’ll continue to build on this, but for now I trust you’re a little more self-aware around your hydration needs. Remember to use the calculation and put my tips in to action to help you function at your best.
Ma te wa!