WATER INTAKE EXPLAINED
There are a lot of questions involving the role water plays in our bodies. In order to overcome a lot of these common questions and concerns, I’ve decided to approach this in a question/answer format. There are a ton of questions out there and more than I could possibly get to in a couple days. There’s also a lot of information regarding water and although I have read a lot about it, divulging it into a few paragraphs in a blog doesn’t feel sufficient to me. That’s why I will be continually updating this blog post with more information and answering your specific questions about water and hydration in the comments section below. (I’ll update the questions on this blog in standard format within the sections)
HYDRATION VS. DEHYDRATION
We all know that we are supposed to be hydrated but it has become confusing as to how we can stay hydrated and not become dehydrated. It’s common that most of our bodies are actually starving for water. We may not feel it in the sensations of ‘thirst’ all the time or we may even misunderstand what that sensation is.
Question: Is dry mouth an indicator that you are dehydrated?
Answer: Unfortunately not, as the body is already thirsty even before you feel the sensation of being thirsty. It is a common misconception that dry mouth is an accurate indicator of dehydration. If you are feeling thirsty, your body is pathologically dehydrated.
PROPER ‘TYPES’ OF HYDRATION
Any drink is going to contain mostly water which is why it’s even more confusing when you are told that most drinks do not hydrate well enough for the body and can actually cause you to be more dehydrated than prior to drinking them. While the intention of most drinks is to hydrate, the complication comes in to the factors of how they are absorbed into the body.
Question: Can I substitute juice or milk in place of water in order to get my water requirements?
Answer: Replacing your water requirement with juice, soda, or milk will cause different types of problems and will not properly hydrate your body.
Juice, even natural juice, like orange juice can increase histamine production. This can lead to asthma problems in both children and adults as well as program the liver into a fat-storing-mode.
Milk should be considered a food as it contains protein properties and vitamins that originally were intended to grow and hydrate a newborn. This goes for both breast-milk and cow-milk both intended to feed and grow infants. Use milk as you would food. While you will get water from milk, this is definitely not a ‘substitute’ for water.
Note: A little before adolescence the digestive system stops producing rennin (the enzyme used to curdle milk and turn it into a digestible form in the stomach) causing milk digestion in adults to be laborious and frequently incomplete. This may be an indicator why so many of us are unable to digest dairy components, such as casein found largely in cow milk. Also, it should be recognized that there is a difference between milk and whey. Whey is easily digested and helps in regenerating intestinal flora but is still considered a ‘supplemental drink’ used for therapeutic purposes only.
Commercial soft drinks/soda & sports drinks: Caffeine soda causes more dehydration (see caffeine below) as it is a diuretic, thus elevates blood pressure and the rate of urination. soda’s are composed of highly refined sugars or artificial sweeteners, coloring agents, acids, and various other toxic additives. When consumed this causes an immediate imbalance where the body removes water from extracellular fluid (the fluid that surrounds cells allowing them to be mobile) causing dehydration. This process of continual cyclic soda drinking is caused by itself; drink soda to quench thirst, cause further cellular dehydration, cause more thirst, drink to quench thirst, repeat. This process is only exaggerated when caffeine is involved.
Question: How does caffeine cause dehydration?
Answer: Caffeine is like turbo to an engine and burns fuel the same way it would in a car, faster but at an inefficient rate causing a higher rate of fuel to be burned. The same happens in your body forcing your body to increase the consumption of energy (ATP) by the brain. The brain stores excess ATP as a reserve of ’emergency energy’. The faster that energy is used the more exhausted your body becomes. In addition to depleting your energy reserves, caffeine also causes dehydration by producing more urine than what is ingested. Hot caffeinated drinks also cause perspiration by attempts to ‘cool’ the body down. This level of dehydration and the inadequate functions cause both depression (where energy in the brain is exhausted and inefficient) and chronic fatigue syndrome (begins as depression, mental fatigue, and becomes a generalized fatigue because the body loses its ability to use brain energy to do mental and physical work). *(2)
It’s common knowledge that we need to properly hydrate before playing sports or working out. However, with all the gimmicks and advertisements out there saying what is best it does get confusing when it comes down to quenching that thirst and staying hydrated.
Question: Should I drink water before or after I workout?
Answer: The body will always utilize a necessary supply of water, especially when engaging in physical activity. It is important to compensate for initial water loss by drinking an adequate amount of water prior to physical activity, so your body doesn’t deduct from tissues and muscles.
Question: How much water should I drink before physical activity?
Answer: The intestines are only capable of absorbing 20-34oz of water/hour, anymore will sit stagnant in the stomach. If you drink a large volume of water prior to activity, this will cause the tissues to become hyperhydrated. (resulting in urination during physical activity)
TIP: Drink 18-20oz. of water 30-60 minutes before physical activity.
Question: How much water should I drink during physical activity?
Answer: It is best to keep your body hydrated during activity because a liter or more of water is lost through sweat glands on your body. It’s important to replenish and hydrate during physical activity.
TIP: Drink 4oz of water every 10-15 minutes to give your body the best rate of absorption and hydration.
Question: How much water should I drink after an activity?
Answer: Depending on how strenuous the activity was results in how much water you should drink in order to rehydrate your body. The more strenuous the activity, the more rehydration will be required. Your intestines can absorb 3 liters of water in 4 hours at the rate of 3-7oz/15-minutes. (not affected by how dehydrated/stressed the body is) If you felt you had a lot of perspiration during your exercise more hydration is required to replenish your body.
HEALTH & DISEASE
If you don’t drink water regularly every day of your life and are unable to address ‘symptoms’ to realize the significance they play in signs of dehydration as a preventative measure to your health, you will inevitably force your body into a disease state. Symptoms that lead to diseases like: asthma, allergies, hypertension-high blood pressure, constipation, autoimmune disease, and type II diabetes to name a few.
Question: How can you tell if the body is dehydrated?
Answer: There are many ways your body communicates with you general or localized water needs. From asthma and allergies to more localized chronic pains.
Here are some of the areas that indicate your body’s need for hydration:
-leg pain (when walking)
-rheumatoid joint pain
Many symptoms and signs of chronic dehydration lead to degenerative diseases that are linked to a persistent body-water-storage as well as cancers. Everyone is different and therefor produces different symptoms unique to their own body. A person may suffer from chronic disease, allergy, or systematic ailments as a result of perpetual dehydration. In fact many of these early ‘symptoms’ are camouflaged by prescription medication resulting in multiple ‘diseases’. This is where disease becomes grouped by syndromes such as autoimmune disease, MS, insulin dependent diabetes, muscular dystrophy, lupus, and other diseases with unknown etiology. Western medicine determines these syndromes and begins the process of ‘treating’ the problem instead of ‘curing’ where cure identifies that the symptom was an advanced state of ‘lack’ of something not included in the diet.
Question: How are asthma and allergies affected by dehydration?
Answer: A majority of asthma and various allergy conditions are treated with kinds of antihistamine medications. (Histamine is an important neurotransmitter that is responsible for the ‘thirst’ mechanism as well as the localization of ‘drought’ management in the body.)
“Several thousand people die from suffocation due to asthma every year. Sometimes the onset of asthma is associated with repeated dry coughs with each breath. There is always an associated wheezing when exhaling, without an apparent infection in the lungs. Asthma affects more than seventeen million Americans, mostly children. I believe that asthma and allergies are the body’s crisis calls for water…the body possesses a number of highly sophisticated emergency thirst signals. We need to be aware of these newly identified indicators of water shortage in our body.” –F.Batmanghelidj, M.D.*(1)
When your body is dehydrated, an increase of histamine is produced in your body creating an ’emergency’ like signal that initiates a type of water rationing program your body utilizes in order to move water to a specific location of the body. When this production of histamine increases, spasms in the lung cause the bronchioles to constrict. (a design function of the body used to conserve water) Because the constant flow of air through the air sacs located in the lungs continually evaporates available water, dehydration causes damage to these tissues. A way to stop this from occurring, the body utilizes a mechanism to reduce the rate of airflow. This mechanism is called asthmatics.
The release of histamine, responsible for cutting down the rate of airflow through the lungs, is an indicator of dehydration in the body. With adequate water supply histamine production is inhibited naturally.
Question: How do you reverse autoimmune disease?
Answer: ‘Reversing’ autoimmune disease is not always possible nor is it an easy transformation. Autoimmune disease is a serious disease that acts as a desperate call from your body for repair. Those who have Autoimmune disease will have to change their habits and knowledge of their body, as the process requires a complete understanding of the acid-alkaline balance and metabolic responses associated with dehydration, like: low amino acid range, improper absorption of minerals (zinc & magnesium) and the requirement for essential vitamins and fatty acids.
Question: What happens when you have joint pain?
Answer: When a joint is dehydrated constant friction causes cartilage cells to die at a fast pace. When the damage occurs to the cartilage it is caused because the area is being overused and under-repaired. The cartilage needs water supply in order to repair the lining of the joint capsule. Hormones that are released to stimulate repair also produce pain. When this hormone is released a series of processes occur:
-blood circulation is moved toward the affected area causing the swelling of joint capsules causing stiffness and added pain.
-amino acids are stimulated for the repair of damage creating a ‘pool’ in the localized joint.
-white blood cells produce hydrogen peroxide for sterilization and oxygen for cellular repair, this process is part of the ‘inflammation’ response.
-tissue growth response causes local remodeling and fortification which causes the gnarling in arthritis. (the brain processes this information as a new ‘structure’ and similar structured joints will follow out on other parts of the body, as if the DNA is being restructured. ) Advanced arthritis seen in rheumatoid joints.
A lot of us understand that drinking water is important and staying hydrated is essential to our weight balance. Defining that thin line between hunger and thirst is where it gets complicated. There are a lot of components that play a role in our weight and one of them is proper hydration. It’s important to make sure that you understand the difference between the two and for those struggling with weight make sure you drink enough water throughout the day and prior to meals to help satiate the ‘drive’ of your tastebuds. It does take time to transform how you desire water as your brain has been trained to believe it’s hungry when it’s actually thirsty.
Question: What is the relationship between dehydration and hunger?
Answer: There are two associated sensations that form eating habits. One is for food and the other is for thirst, both felt in the same area and are stimulated by the same histamine response. Which is why it is easy to confuse the two when the sensation occurs. Some people believe they are hungry when they are actually experiencing thirst relying on dry-mouth as a sign of dehydration. The signal for thirst is subsequently hidden when food is consumed at the onset of the symptom. This forces hydration to play a role after digestion, where water is consumed after heavy eating as a ‘last-stage’.
Question: How can you distinguish between hunger and thirst? (preventing over-eating and digestive dehydration)
Answer: The best way to separate the sensations is to drink water first, if you do this first before food, you’ll find that in many cases you were hungry. Often we will eat and then drink water, commonly long after our body is dehydrated by the intake of solid foods.
NOTE: If you have a habit of eating when this sensation has presented itself in past instances, you will need to re-train your body to recognize the difference between hunger and thirst. When you feel a sensation of ‘hunger’ train your brain to associate that sensation with ‘thirst’ and drink 10oz. of water at the onset of this feeling. Continue to do this until you feel your body has identified the difference between thirst and hunger. It will take patience, practice, and determination in order to make this transformation. It is not easy to re-train your brain, but it is possible. Because food is converted into energy (ATP) it will be more satisfying to the brain by taste buds over water. It is very common to associate the histamine response of dehydration to hunger and cause mental and social stresses on the body which can set the tone for ‘over-eating’.
TIP: A very important tool is pure water, because it does not interfere with signals to the body for implicating anything except use of hydration. That’s why health experts and advisors recommend drinking 8-10oz of water 30 minutes before eating. This gives the body enough fluid transport and hydration to utilize processes of digestion. It’s also helpful in satisfying the ‘urge’ to over-eat.
Aging: Water is essential for skin regeneration and retention. The skin retains water by special molecules capable of holding a thousand times their weight in water. Dehydration is a key factor in aging and loss of youthful glow of skin. This can be seen when skin becomes dull, dry, and wrinkled, losing its firmness, color, and elasticity. Without proper hydration, the skin does not properly eliminated (flush out) toxins through the skin resulting in breakouts of pimples and blemishes (acne). Proper hydration allows the body to rejuvenate the skin and properly remove toxins from the sebaceous glands.
Question: How much water should I drink per day, in order to maintain healthy skin?
Answer: The answer depends on what you are doing throughout the day, but generally speaking at a minimum you should be drinking about 2.5 liters of water/day everyday your entire life. This does not account for caffeine intake, highly refined sugar drinks, teas, or exercise.
- Batmanghelidj, F. M. D. “Chapter 7/Asthma and Allergies.” Water: For Health, for Healing, for Life. New York: Warner, 2003. 71-93. Print.
- Batmanghelidj, F. M. D. “Chapter 11/Depression and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.” Water: For Health, for Healing, for Life. New York: Warner, 2003. 200-03. Print.
- Vasey, Christopher. The Water Prescription: For Health, Vitality, and Rejuvenation. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts, 2006. Print.
- Louise, Mira. The Acid-alkaline Balance: Explaining Some of the Functions of the Parotic Glands. Adelaide: M. Louise, 1964. Print.
- Emoto, Masaru. The True Power of Water: Healing and Discovering Ourselves. Hillsboro, OR: Beyond Words Pub., 2005. Print.
- Rue, Nancy N., and Stephen Arterburn. Healing Waters. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2008. Print.