Nearly everyone has heard that the body is approximately 70% water. Yet, very few people then make the connection that the preferred beverage we should consume throughout each day is water. Sometimes it seems as though many people drink anything but water. Throughout each day, the body is constantly losing water through breathing, urinating and sweating. This means, of course, that you need to replace or replenish that water. Thirst is one way the body lets you know it’s time to refill your body’s water supply. Unfortunately, by the time you actually feel thirsty, this can indicate that your body has already entered into a state of dehydration. More
When it comes to hydration, we want our bodies to be like a soup, rather than a stew. Think about it, our amazing bodies have literally trillions of cells undergoing trillions of reactions every single second we are alive. Most of those reactions deal with the uptake of nutrients or the elimination of wastes. Would you think it would be easier for those reactions (movement of materials) to take place in a sludgy, crowded stew-ish environment, where everything is thick and cramped together, or in an environment much more like a free-flowing soup or a broth? If you said broth, you are right on the mark. You see, the body is made up of roughly 60% water, so you can visualize your body as a pot of soup where the cells make up the chunks, and 60% of it is water. Now think of dehydration as simply removing some of the water. What happens when we remove the water? The chunks in the soup get more crowded, and the soup starts to look more like a stew. When this happens in our bodies, it becomes much more difficult to transport materials (nutrients/wastes) to where they need to go, things get backed up, and we begin moving away from optimal function and health.
Why is dehydration dangerous?
As mentioned in the Insight, the symptoms of dehydration are anything from headaches and feelings of lethargy and/or dizziness, to numbness and tingling, but the earliest sign of dehydration is thirst. That’s right, by the time you feel thirsty you may have already lost up to 2% of your total water volume. Once again, how we feel is inaccurate for how healthy we are, and even scarier is that your overall ability to feel thirsty decreases with age - so it is even more important to add water, regardless of thirst, as we age. If that doesn’t get you to the canteen, then maybe this will: research by Dr. F Batmanghelidj, M.D discovered that “…dehydration produces stress, chronic pains and many degenerative diseases.”
Life causes us to lose our valuable water in a variety of ways, such as digestion, sweat, urination, and defecation. Even breathing causes a natural loss of water, and our bodies become more stew-like, which is why it is so critical to add water throughout the day. We can do that in two forms, through the water we consume and more importantly through the foods we consume. The more natural (from the earth) and more alive (fresh uncooked) our foods, the more water content held within them. Most of the foods we eat should be fresh vegetables and fruits which are loaded with water.
- Apples are 85% water
- Broccoli is 91% water
- Cucumbers are 96% water!
Think about it - do you feel more thirsty after eating a salad, or after eating potato chips? Obviously the chips, which have had the water cooked out of them and are loaded with salt. A Bonfire Health Vital Behavior is to keep lots of fresh fruit and veggies around the house. So the more fresh foods we add into our diet, and the more water we drink, the more soup-like and the healthier our body will be.
So, Drink Up!
ESSENTIAL ELEMENT: Just Add Water
Critical Concept: Water is it.
Your body is designed to be healthy. The best definition of health is optimal cell function. If you provide the elements that cells require for function and avoid those elements that are toxic by nature, you have the best chance of experiencing your true health potential. Water is at the top of that list; water is one of those essential elements.
Water is critical in almost all of our bodies’ functions, including but not limited to: digestion, circulation, respiration and healing. Symptoms of dehydration include constipation, dizziness and fatigue, as well as skin, hair and nail issues. As with all essential elements, water should not be thought of as a “treatment” for dehydration or a way to avoid constipation; rather, hydration is a critical component of a healthy lifestyle. Air is no more a “treatment for suffocation” than water is a treatment for thirst. Ideally, we should rarely, if ever, experience thirst. We should simply drink water – and drink often. Hydration is critical.
The Innate Daily Requirement (IDR) for water will vary according to your body weight. A good rule of thumb or Best Practice is to consume at least 50% of your body weight (pounds) in fluid ounces of water (and an additional 50% in healthy food choices – fruits and vegetables).
Optimally, we should drink pure spring water from our own well/land. The a good alternative water source for the modern city dweller is Reverse Osmosis, but there is an entire spectrum of quality for your other water source choices. An effective nudge for having and consistently (and easily) consuming clean water is to install an in-home Reverse Osmosis Filtration System. This makes is far easier for you to make better choices and have the cleanest water source – on tap!
The trend in healthier water consciousness today has led to an unfortunate trade-off for the environment – plastic pollution. Millions of plastic bottles end up in landfills and in the oceans every day. In fact, there are toxic stews of plastic flotsam clustered on the surface of the ocean that are so thick that in some areas the concentration of plastic particles is higher than the level of plant and animal plankton. One such cluster, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is reported to be twice the size of state of Texas – and still growing.
We have a solution to both problems. Buy a cool canteen. One of our favorite Best Practices in the Bonfire Program is to invest in a reuseable stainless steel canteen. In our practices we found that when patients purchase a non-disposable canteen that they love, they keep it (and their water supply) with them at all times. This increases water intake substantially. You get all the health benefits – saving yourself and the planet, all at once.
Good job, you.