The Importance of Water & Optimized Hydration
Water is unique and vital for all life
Water (H2O) – molecules composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom – makes up about 71% of the earth’s surface and 60% of the human body – in other words, it is the main constituent of earth and all organisms. Simply referring to water as important is an understatement; water is vital for life of the planet and its inhabitants. Many cultures believe that where there is water there is life; lands with water are considered sacred. This vast substance can exit in three different forms including solid (ice), liquid (fluid), or gas (vapor). We can drink it, swim through it, ski down it, steam in it, use it as medicine…We’re most familiar with it in its liquid state, as a colorless, odorless, and tasteless fluid, essential to our survival (and that of all life forms) yet contains no calories or organic nutrients (carbs, fats, proteins, and vitamins).
When we think of the largest source of water, we often think of the ocean, but have you ever wondered where the ocean came from? Curiously, many astronomers believe that water is not from earth but rather was carried to earth by asteroids from outer space. It gets even more interesting…chemists have always been captivated by water’s unique properties which cause it to act differently than other chemical compounds – water in its liquid and solid form has a tetrahedral arrangement of its molecules, allowing it to exhibit these peculiar behaviors related to solubility, density, surface tension, and boiling point. Water is known as the universal solvent, Dr. Masaru Emoto states that “the ability of water to dissolve other substances creates a “soup of life” that supplies the oceans with the necessary nutrients that enable life.”
Water has several physiological functions
It is said that a person can survive without water for just about 3 days. Every cell, tissue, and organ in our body needs water to work properly. Water has several physiological functions – on a biochemical level, water is involved in tons of chemical reactions and allows for the interaction, transport, and usage of substances. On a functional level, water regulates body temperature, moistens tissues, protects organs, carries oxygen and nutrients to cells, lubricates joints, and supports detoxification…just to name few.
Although, we don’t just need adequate amounts to survive, we need optimal amounts to thrive. The more hydrated we are, the more vibrant we feel, look, and function – our energy is up, mind is sharp, and skin is glowing. Think about a plant, when it’s underwatered, it droops and browns, but when it’s watered the right amount, it perks up and flourishes.
According to one estimate, 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. It is especially common in elderly people and is a frequent cause of hospital admission. Dehydration occurs when the body does not have enough fluid to carry out its normal functions – loss has exceeded replacement.
Mild dehydration may impair the way we feel (e.g. headache, muscle cramps) and perform (e.g. difficulty thinking, early exercise fatigue). Severe hydration may be life-threatening and complicate other medical conditions. A significant amount of body fluid can be lost through excessive sweating, urination, diarrhea, and insufficient water intake – caution must be taken with illness, high activity, hot climates, and certain medications (like diuretics). The good news is dehydration is easily treatable and preventable. Often when we feel off or hungry, we may just be underhydrated and drinking water will help revitalize us.
How do we know if we are dehydrated?
Now we understand that optimal amounts of water every day is essential to overall health, beauty, and vitality – but how much is optimal? And how do we know if we’re hydrated? The general rule of thumb is to drink a minimum of half our body weight in ounces per day (e.g. 75 oz for a 150 lb. person). The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is at least 3.7 L per day for adult men and 2.7 L per day for adult women.
Although, drinking even more water to compensate for losses is often overlooked- for example, drinking minimum needs plus drinking before, during, and after intensive exercise. The gold standard of hydration assessment is to monitor the color of our urine (this is how elite level athletes stay hydrated for high performance) – light yellow urine indicates good hydration. If your urine is lighter than that you may want to drink less, but if it is darker than you will need to drink more.
Getting enough water is one thing, ensuring it is clean is another. There are a few things to consider when it comes to drinking quality water. One is where our water is coming from, and the other is what we’re drinking out of. To protect against the ingestion of harmful chemicals, it is recommended to drink filtered or spring water out of a glass or stainless-steel container. Remember that water is extremely soluble, we must remove impurities from sourced water and prevent them from leaching into our water from containers (particularly plastics). Another consideration is when to drink water. To avoid interfering with digestive processes, it is recommended to drink water in the morning and between meals throughout the day (stopping in the evening can help prevent urinating in the night). To be hydrated for tomorrow, one must hydrate today – drinking a gallon of water in one sitting won’t cut it.
Tips for drinking more water
Working with a naturopathic doctor (ND) at LIVV can help you stay hydrated by determining your hydration goal, helping you decide on which water filter to purchase, making you a hydration tonic, and coming up with hacks to step up your hydration game. Also, LIVV offers IV therapy, which provides immediate and efficient hydration to all of your cells! We hope that from now on you will consider water one of your essential nutrients. Here are some helpful tips:
- For remembering to drink water, try always keeping a filled 24-32 oz water bottle on you and/or setting reminders to drink water on your phone
- For improving the taste of water, try adding flavor enhancers like electrolytes (which promote hydration) or sliced fruit
- For increasing water intake, try eating your water by consuming fruits and veggies with high water content (such as cucumber, iceberg lettuce, celery, and watermelon)
- For staying accountable, try creating a hydration challenge for yourself or with your friends
- Listening to your thirst sensation is an important guide for staying hydrated, but if you lack this sensation, you’ll have to be very intentional about drinking water consistently
- Talk to your water or label its container with uplifting words – in his book, ‘The Hidden Messages in Water,’ Dr. Masaru Emoto found that words and thoughts have the power to alter the formation of water crystals; clear springs and water exposed to loving words shows brilliant, complex, and colorful snowflake patterns, whilst polluted water, or water exposed to negative thoughts, forms incomplete, asymmetrical patterns with dull colors
Written by Jordan Valdez, RDN
Highly Recommended Reading:
The Hidden Messages in Water by Masaru Emoto
Taylor K, Jones EB. Adult Dehydration. [Updated 2021 Oct 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555956/