The art of staying hydrated
Staying hydrated is important for EVERYbody.
What we need water for
- Transportation of oxygen and all the necessary nutrients, enzymes and immune factors via the bloodstream to your organs and cells. You might be eating the right stuff, but without water, it cannot arrive at your cells.
- Elimination of toxins and metabolic waste. Ever tried cleaning a house without water? Even the best cleansing agents (= foods or supplements) won’t be effective without water!
- Nourishment, protection and lubrication of joints, the brain, the spinal cord and other tissues
- Regulation of body temperature.
How much to drink
Our body continuously loses water through sweat, urine and breathing, which needs to be replaced by foods and drinks. In general it is recommended to drink 1.5-2.5 liters per day – more if it is hot or you are exercising. Just as with food, I am not a fan of general recommendations. Depending on your activity level, body weight, Metabolic Type, or the weather, you might need more or less. Drinking too little is not good, but drinking too much neither!
As usual, your body will tell you if you are drinking enough:
- Color of your urine: This should be of a light yellow color. The darker the yellow, the more you need to drink.
- Thirst: When you are thirsty, you really do need water.
- Frequency of urination: Urinating less than 4 times per day is a sign of not drinking enough.
- Signs of “dryness” in the body: constipation, high blood pressure, aching joints, headaches, dry skin…
Note: If you are constantly thirsty although you are drinking a lot (of water) or if you need to go to the toilet almost immediately after drinking, it could be that you are not well absorbing the water. Although you are drinking, you are not getting hydrated – the water is just “rushing through” your system, washing away important electrolytes and nutrients in the worst case. Try adding a pinch of unrefined sea salt or Himalaya salt to your water to help your body better absorb it.
What to drink
When your body is thirsty it needs water. But what kind of water?
- Use well water, spring water or purified water.
- The best and most economical in the long run is to purify your own water. Even if you are told that your water is safe, it’s the same as with non-organic food. If you don’t trust authorities telling you that the pesticides contained in non-organic foods are fine, you shouldn’t trust them either when they tell you that the levels of chemicals, chlorine, hormones, heavy metals etc. in your tap water are safe. First of all there has been more than one scandal where levels did indeed exceed “safe” levels. Apart from that, they only test for a limited number of potentially toxic elements, completely ignoring the fact that you are never only absorbing one single toxin, but a whole cocktail of them.
- Bottled water is not necessarily safer than tap water. Independent tests have found quite some chemicals also in bottled water. If on top you buy it in plastic, you might actually be worse off. Only buy bottled water in glass bottles or at least BPA-free plastic bottles. Prefer non-sparkling over sparkling water.
- Avoid water that’s too cold (e.g. directly from the fridge or with ice). At the most, drink it at room temperature, but you might actually find that you prefer to drink it warm or even hot.
My 3-steps-water-purification process
- e-Spring water purification (connected directly to the tap): Combination of activated charcoal plus UV-lamp. Filters out almost everything, except chalk
- Brita pitcher: to filter out chalk (so that kitchen apparel lives longer)
- Nikken water-optimizer: to restructure the water (with the help of a magnetic field) and energize it
Other “ok” drinks
- Chicken or beef broth (home-made): almost a food – the ideal “pick-me-up” in between meals, especially on cold winter days.
- Infused water: e.g. ginger or turmeric (works best with hot water), or in summer with some fresh mint, cucumber slices or lemon/lime. A tiny amount of fruit juice is also ok occasionally (emphasis is on “tiny”)
- Coconut water: very rich in electrolytes. The ideal “after sports drink” or when you are sweating a lot.
- Home-made water kefir or kombucha (small quantities)
- Herbal teas, such as rooibos, mint, etc. But be aware that every herb has an effect on the body and sometimes it might be counterproductive for your Metabolic Type (e.g. mint tea is cooling down the body, which might not be good for “cold” types or in winter).
- Freshly pressed vegetable juice / smoothie with added fat: consume slowly as a food (chew it!) – not as a drink.
- Raw cows’, goats’ or sheep milk, home-made almond milk or thinned coconut milk (as a food, not as a drink)
Drinks to avoid
- Commercial sports and soft drinks: full of sugar and artificial colorants / additives
- Fruitjuice and fruit smoothies (even if freshly pressed or organic): basically concentrated sugar (not good, even if “natural”)
- Alcohol: further dehydrates the body, messes up hormones and usually high in sugar/carbs. IF you choose to have it from time to time, make sure to combine it with fat/protein-rich food, such as cheese, olives, meat…
- Coffee/Black tea/cacao: further dehydrate the body, “stressor” to the body (release of stress hormones), thin the gut lining… IF you choose to have it from time to time, make sure to combine it with enough fat/protein (e.g. butter/coconut oil as in bulletproof coffee). And of course to have one extra glass of water for every cup.
- Commercial nut- and cerealmilk, especially soymilk.
- Pasteurized milk (RAW milk is ok as a FOOD)
When to drink
- 1-2 glasses (of warm water) upon arising.
- In between meals: one glass per hour in small sips (the body can only absorb about 250ml per hour).
- After and even during sports (depending on duration of work-out)
- Don’t drink a lot 30 min before and after a meal (some broth/soup or a little hot water is ok)