Updated: Feb 5
“Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine.”
90% of our blood is made of water. It is critical we refuel accordingly. Your body depends on water not only to survive, but to function properly and remain healthy. Staying hydrated is often overlooked or misconceived by too many people. Which is why I wanted to share some thoughts on the true definition of hydration, the benefits of hydration, the consequences of over hydration and most important thing of all, how to stay hydrated.
What is hydration ?
Hydration is the process of causing something to absorb water. In life the water we drink is absorbed by the intestines, and circulated throughout the body in the form of fluids like blood. Unlike food, liquids are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. Fluids perform various functions that keep us alive. These fluids deliver oxygen and nutrients to the cells, and take away waste materials, which are discarded with urination. Water is digested much faster than other liquids because there is little your body needs to do to change the water in order to absorb it. Water is head of state. All of the other liquids are just politicians.
What are the benefits of hydration ?
If you have ever lived in a big city like New York, you understand the importance of an efficient transportation system. A clear schedule, timely pick ups, drop offs and updates when things get hectic. Our blood stream is the exact same way. Carrying nutrients and oxygen to our cells instead of people and pets from one place to the next. Water is our transportation system’s fuel source and essential for proper bodily function.
Simple water is every life form on this planet’s magic potion. Flushing bacteria, boosting in our skin health and helping with weight loss. Giving us energy by facilitating the flow of our body’s transportation system. Water promotes healthy brain function allowing us to make better decisions not only in our day to day life, but also our long term decisions. Water makes you better.
Water helps to regulate our body temperature. Providing assistance in both directions. Cooling us down if we begin to overheat and also warming us up if we begin to run cold. Water also provides cushion to the joints like oil to nuts and bolts of our city bus and subway system. Giving us more mobility and time to pick up more people (oxygen & nutrients) and drop off at each destination (cells).
Drinking water stabilizes the heartbeat, helps normalize blood pressure and aids in digestion. Without water we run into transportation service delays, bumper to bumper traffic, and build ups causing people (oxygen & nutrients) to be late to our drop off locations (cells), which then begins to disrupt the entire system.
Our organs and body tissue do not like late drop offs and schedule changes. They disrupt the flow of our internal city and get in the way of our maximum level of efficiency. Water provides relief for these traffic jams and schedule delays (constipation) by creating space and time for oxygen and nutrients to move for freely.
Water consumption is important because it maintains the electrolyte (sodium) balance in your body. Sodium balance you ask ? Yes. Electrolytes are minerals in our bodies that have an electric charge. They are in your blood. Maintaining the correct balance of electrolytes helps your body’s blood chemistry, muscle action and much much more. Sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium are examples of electrolytes. Drinking water on its own is the first step in your body performing at its highest level. Now it is time to improve our transportation system with some help from a few friends in City Hall (electrolytes).
How do you stay hydrated?
Imagine yourself on hot day and a long walk through your favorite beach, park, or neighborhood. Beautiful right ? Yes of course, but you are also sweating. And that is okay because we brought water with us right ? Yes and no. Remember water consumption is only step 1. When we sweat we are losing sodium necessary for our bodies to function properly. When you sweat, you lose fluids and electrolytes, the majority of it being sodium. Both need to be replaced to to refuel, recharge, recover and prepare for more activity.
Marathon runners consume salt packets during their runs as they hydrate with water loaded with more electrolytes to maintain and maximize performance levels. I know what you are thinking. “I am no marathon runner, what does this have to do with me ?”. Everything in life is relative. You may not be running “A Marathon”, but you are running “The Marathon” of life. Which is the toughest race of them all. You have to hydrate with water and add electrolytes at a pace relative to your lifestyle to function properly.
What are the consequences of over hydration?
So much of the information about hydration provided is dedicated solely to fluid replacement. As a result, we have a spike in hyponatremia cases in athletes, older adults, specifically those who are hospitalized, or living in long-term care facilities. Signs of hyponatremia are altered personality and lethargy. Severe cases of hyponatremia can cause seizures, coma, and in some cases even death.
Hyponatremia occurs when the body holds onto too much water. This will dilute the amount of electrolytes in the blood and cause levels to be low. More symptoms include nausea, headaches, confusion and fatigue. A limited fluid intake, medications and hospitalization may be necessary to combat this.
How much is too much hydration ?
For this reason, it is important to spread your water intake throughout the day rather than drink it all in a single sitting. Also, be sure to listen to your body and adjust your water intake according to the way you are feeling. You can tell if you are full of water. Focus on that. You notice if your urine is too clear. Recognize that. You can feel if you are more tired than usual. As you assess these things, think to yourself, “Am I drinking water too quickly or have I had too much water today?”. Listen to your body. All of the answers are right there inside and in front of you and your daily activity.
“If you listen to your body when it whispers, you won’t have to listen to it when it screams.”