Hydration = water + electrolytes. Water is responsible for a lot of bodily functions such as:
- Maintenance of DNA
- Facilitating reactions in mitochondria
- Maintaining integrity of the blood
- Creating lymph fluid
- Building fluid for the digestive tract and secretions
- Regulating body temperature
- Creating cerebrospinal fluid
- Making synovial fluid
Water creates the pathways on which hormones and neurotransmitters travel. None of the processes of metabolism are possible without sufficient water How much water do you need daily? The general rule is to drink at least half your body weight in ounces on any non-active day (so, a 120lb person needs at least 60oz), and an additional 12oz for each 30 minutes spent in high activity.
But what about the electrolytes portion of hydration? Electrolytes are charged ions that include calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, phosphate, bicarbonate, chloride and others. Our electrolytes, like our body’s Ph, are tightly regulated. Every process in our body – every thought we have, every muscle contraction, our fluid status, the beating of our hearts, digestion, is driven by sodium potassium pumps. That’s the movement of fluid in and out of cells based on the sodium and potassium of either side of the cell membranes.
While water is essential, too much water, resulting in a flooding of the electrolytes, can lead to hyponatremia. The overconsumption of water without sufficient salts results in the kidneys dumping sodium and potassium to try to fix the balance. That can lead to swelling of the brain and even death. Usually, though, you’ll experience far milder but still nasty symptoms: edema, swelling, unbalanced blood volume, and poor energy production. Water without minerals is downright dangerous to our health, which is why you shouldn’t drink distilled water or reverse osmosis water that hasn’t been remineralized.
water should you drink? Tap water generally contains contaminants and should definitely be filtered for drinking, cooking and even bathing, ideally. We recommend the Nikken PiMag water filters, but there are some other good filters out there. Bottled water should be a last resort because it is poorly regulated, often comes from sources no better than the average tap and the plastic containers in which they’re sold can leach toxic chemicals into the water. Water bottled in glass, while heavy and breakable, is at least not going to leach chemicals into the water. If you’re really stuck and you need to grab a bottle, Avian is actually pretty good, as are Smartwater and EOS.
Use the Environmental Working Group’s tap water database to see what’s in your local drinking water. Go to www.ewg.org/tapwater/state-of-american-drinking-water.php to see lots of great articles on the state of tap water in the US, and to enter your ZIP code to see the number of contaminants most recently found in your local water.