By Dr. Christina, ND, CPT, CECP, CDS II
You may have been asked, “are you drinking enough water?” It’s a common question because hydration is vital to overall health, but what does “enough” mean, and how does hydration affect your weight loss goals?
The human body is an estimated 60-75% water content. The muscles and brain hold 75% water content. As a result, dehydration can lead to symptoms like headaches and muscle cramping. The blood, kidneys, and liver make up 83-85% water. So, keeping the body hydrated can help these better eliminate toxic waste. If you are not hydrated properly, you could get toxic build-up in your liver and kidneys leading to kidney stones and poor blood flow through the liver. Without proper hydration, your blood may become thicker, preventing the flow of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Even mild dehydration can cause ill health effects in all organs and organ systems. Holding onto toxins will prevent fat loss because the body uses fat cells to buffer toxins. Decreased intracellular hydration will impact the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell), slowing your metabolism. Your cells need the hydrogen molecules in H20 to form ATP by the mitochondria.
Water is a transporter of nutrients and even plays a role in hormonal activity. It is crucial in enzyme activity too. Enzymes are a catalyst for many bodily functions. Without them, your body performance would be sloth-like, slowly struggling to get anything done. Your body prefers to operate as efficiently as possible. When it senses a lack of water, it will slow metabolic processes, including fat burning, to conserve energy. As a result, the rate at which you use fat for energy will slow to a large degree.
When dieting, one way your body disposes of body fat is through the urine. Without water, your body will have difficulty flushing fat out of the body. Persistent dehydration causes unhealthy signs like constipation (dryness in the bowel), poor digestive health, fatigue (energy slows down), dry skin, brittle hair, and stiff joints.
As you can see, water is vital for an energized body that burns fat adequately. You need enough water throughout the day with the right electrolyte balance (sodium and potassium) to keep you hydrated intracellularly and extracellularly. A person can drink loads of water and still be dehydrated because water must make its way into the cells (intracellular) to really be hydrating.
6 Tips for hydrating the body
- A general recommendation is to drink 64 ounces of water per day.
- Men need a little more than women because they typically have more muscle mass.
- Depending on your activity level, occupation, stress level, and climate, you may need to increase your water intake.
- It is best to drink water on an empty stomach because your body can absorb water within 5 minutes if the stomach is empty. Drinking water with food will take about 120 minutes to absorb.
- A great way to get electrolytes is to drink coconut water. It has naturally occurring sodium and potassium, the same ratio as human plasma.
- Lightly salting food with Celtic Sea salt is another option. Celtic Sea salt has over 80 trace minerals in it. Many are mineral deficient, causing increased cellular dehydration. If persistent dehydration continues, using a liquid multi-mineral supplement can help.
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