It is known that humans can survive for about 2 months without food, but just days without water. Yet, surprisingly, most of us are dehydrated – in fact, 75 percent of Americans are dehydrated (1). The effects of low-grade dehydration are real, long-lasting and potentially very debilitating and the cues are afternoon fatigue, a decline in cognitive function, headaches, urinary infections, bloating and constipation to name a few. Others include sleeplessness, decreased immunity, joint pain, chronic diseases like fibromyalgia, type 2 diabetes, acid reflux, dementia and even Alzheimer’s.
Even the smallest amount of dehydration can have a big impact: as little as a 2% reduction in hydration leads to measurable cognitive decline. (2) That is less than one liter of water loss, just enough for your sensory capacities to diminish, apprehension diminishes, appreciation decreases, life is less colorful: this is your brain at 2% dry! And that happens to most of us somewhere around 3 in the afternoon where we are floating in low-grade dehydration, and by 9 pm we nearing empty. We dry out over and over again throughout our lifetime and this accelerates aging. (4)
We have been told to drink 8 glasses of water a day to get the hydration we need. This conventional wisdom is ½ right, as our bodies are approximately 65% water. If we are not hydrated, everything else we do to stay healthy is undercut. When it comes to drinking enough water though, quantity is not necessarily quality. Counting on water alone to hydrate your body is inefficient, and can even hurt you. Drinking too much water can flush out vital nutrients and electrolytes from your cells and tissues, harming your health and limiting your body’s ability to perform.
It is not only how much water you drink that determines your health and youthfulness, but also how well your body gets water into your cells. It may surprise you that it is oils and fats that make cellular hydration possible. Water has to cross over an oil-guarded barrier to get inside your cell. You can drink all you want, but if water can’t get past this barrier, hydration isn’t going to happen. New research documents that omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in keeping our cell membranes supple and can help increase the cell membrane surface area so that more water and nutrients can pass through. (3)
These types of fat that are particularly hydrating:
Wild caught Salmon
Free range eggs
Grass fed red meat
Proper hydration in your diet is not just through water, but also from plants, such as fruits and vegetables, seeds and other hydrating foods:
Apple cider vinegar, raw
Butter, grass fed / Ghee
Cardamom / Cinnamon
Ground seeds: sunflower / Pumpkin / Hemp
Chia seeds – ground is best for absorption, grind them in a coffee grinder, or soak them 30 minutes before using.
Coconut milk, unsweetened
Coconut water, unsweetened
Maple syrup / stevia
Pear / Apple
Pomegranate juice concentrate
Raspberries, fresh or frozen
Salt, natural unrefined sea or rock
Tea, chamomile / licorice
These foods require more hydration in order to be fully digested, so it is recommended you avoid the following list:
Simple carbohydrates like pasta and bread
Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils
Fake sweeteners: sucralose, saccharine, and aspartame(4)
Quick start your Hydration first thing in the morning:
When you first wake up, drink 8-16 ounces of water with a pinch of sea salt and a squeeze of lemon to truly soak your insides.
Drink 6-8 ounces of water before every meal, with a little lemon or one or the hydrating foods from the list above
Get more of you water from food – eating foods high in water content will hydrate better than the same amount of water from bottled water.
Use movement to distribute hydration – it is crucial to be able to deliver hydration deeply into your tissues to keep you flexible and pain free – do Pilates, it is proven to be hydrating!
Let me know how increasing your quality of hydration goes for you, I would love to know!
- Ericson, John. Medical Daily, medicaldaily.com/75-americans-may-suffer-chronic-dehydration-according-doctors-247393.
- Adan, A. “Cognitive Performance and Dehydration.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 31, no. 2 (April 2012): 71-78. ncbi.nih.gov/pubmed
- Darios, Frederic, and Bazbek Davletov. “Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids Stimulate Cell Membrane Expansion by Acting on Syntaxin 3. Nature 440 (April 6, 2006): 813-817. nature.com/nature/journal
- Cohen, Dana, M.D., Bria, Gina. “Quench”, 2018 by Hackette Book Group, Inc.