Hydration is key for our health and vitality. We need adequate hydration to move vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients through our body into our cells, as well as to get toxins out of our cells. Water also helps our body maintain balance, including maintaining our internal temperature.
Dehydration can lead to serious health problems, so it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms. Some of the early signs of dehydration include dark or very concentrated urine, constipation, dry skin, forgetfulness, and dizziness. Prolonged dehydration can lead to chronic acidic states such as acid reflux, gout, kidney stones, osteoporosis, dental disease, and even cancer.
Due to our modern lifestyle and environment, most people are dehydrated to some extent. Whether you have symptoms of dehydration or not, there are 7 critical things you should do to ensure that your body maintains an optimal pH balance and stays adequately hydrated.
1. Drink water even if you’re not thirsty
Did you know that you may be thirsty and not even know it? Thirst is easily suppressed, and this could lead to a misperception that we don’t need water. Thirst is a good thing because it shows that our body is communicating well with us, but this communication isn’t always happening consistently. So if you feel like you’re not thirsty and therefore that means that your body doesn’t need any more water, think again.
Additionally, science has shown that we need just as much fluids in cold weather as in hot weather even though we are not sweating. And in fact, you may need even more in a cold climate because the body has to work harder in the cold.
Interestingly, a feeling of hunger may actually mean that your body is thirsty. So the next time you’re feeling hungry and feel like you’re craving something like chips, consider that you may actually be thirsty.
2. Drink 11.5 to 15.5 cups of water per day
You may have heard that you need about 8 cups of water a day. The Mayo Clinic, however, recommends a minimum daily intake of 11.5 cups (92 ounces) a day for women and 15.5 cups (124 ounces) a day for men. This recommendation includes water from foods and other beverages as well.1
Though this is a good general guideline, the amount of water you need may vary based on your environment, exercise, and overall health. If you aren’t drinking the minimum recommended amount of water, my suggestion is to start with a small amount—maybe 3-4 ounces every half hour—and just slowly introduce it to your body. Don’t add anything in a large quantity right away when you’re not accustomed to drinking a lot of water. Start slow and just see how your body responds.
Whether you are increasing your water intake or not, remember that drinking water in smaller amounts more often is best. You should also avoid drinking ice water. Drinking water that’s close to your body temperature or a little cooler will help you hydrate more effectively.
3. Drink pure water
There are many different types of water you can drink, but not all water is created equal. Tap water, bottled water, boxed water, and even well water are not your best options, as they all have some issues with contamination. Reverse osmosis water is also not a good choice because of the essential minerals that are removed from it.2
On the other end of the spectrum are healthier options such as alkaline and alkalized (electrolyzed-reduced) water. As a warning, many bottled-water products state that they are alkaline or even alkalized. However, if they don’t have the ionic charge that nature usually gives us, they can negatively affect the pH balance in the body.
So what is the best water to drink? My understanding based on my research and my experience is that electrolyzed-reduced water is the best option. Electrolyzed-reduced water contains the natural properties of water found in parts of the world where it’s reputed to be a “healing” water. The properties of this water include:
- Structured – molecules positioned in a hexagonal shape
- Micro-clustered – smaller clusters that are more easily absorbed
- Antioxidative – provide a free electron
- Free of synthetic, potentially harmful chemicals
- Contains natural source minerals
4. Don’t forget the salt
Good-quality salt that has other trace minerals in it is also an important component of hydration. Salt is key for the ionic exchange between the inside of the cell and the outside of the cell in order for the cells to excrete the acidic waste product and have an alkaline balance.
To better support a healthy acid/alkaline balance, I recommend a high-quality sea salt or Himalayan salt. I’m not a big fan of white salt like I’m not a big fan of white sugar or white flour, for obvious reasons. White salts tend to be highly refined, whereas a naturally colored salt will typically be in an unrefined state.
5. Limit sugar and caffeine
Sugar and caffeine are two substances that inhibit our ability to hydrate. Bacteria feed off of sugar and their waste product is acidic. That’s why as dentists, we tell you not to put too much sugar in the environment of your mouth. You should also consider so-called healthy foods and beverages in your diet that are loaded with sugar. For example, although high in vitamin C, just 2 teaspoons of orange juice contains 7 grams of sugar.
Beverages that are high in caffeine such as coffee or soft drinks can also prevent us from hydrating. It can also be found in large amounts in teas and certain foods. I’m not a big opponent of coffee when it’s made with good quality beans and pure water. Soda pop, on the other hand, is extremely oxidative. Soda pop contains a lot of sugar in addition to caffeine, whereas coffee has no added sugar.
6. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are probably not something that come to your mind when thinking about hydration, but they are good sources of water. Additionally, fruits and vegetables contain fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
Fruits provide you with good-quality vitamin C, which is a great antioxidant. Melons, strawberries, and blueberries in particular are rich in vitamin C. Potassium is also important in hydration, and fruits such as oranges, bananas, and coconuts are high in this mineral. The recommendation is to consume 2 to 3 servings of fruit a day.
Vegetables are also high in vitamin C and other key nutrients. Aim for 5 servings of vegetables per day. Dark leafy greens are a great choice, but you should also incorporate a lot of different colors. Some great choices to assist with hydration include spinach, carrots, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
Also consider the source of your fruits and vegetables. Organic fruits and vegetables free of pesticides and herbicides will help you hydrate better than their non-organic counterparts.
7. Add bone broth and sprouts
While pure water, salt, fruits, and vegetables are good sources of minerals, it’s also a good idea to supplement your body’s minerals through bone stock. Alternatively, if you’re a vegetarian, you can supplement minerals with sprouted legumes. Both bone stock and sprouted legumes are rich in key minerals that your body can absorb and use easily, including:
- Trace minerals
About Dr. Catherine Akbarieh
Dr. Catherine Akbarieh has been an advocate of natural health and prevention for more than 20 years. A biological dentist and integrative nutrition coach, she aims to empower her clients on their health journey by working with the body’s own energetic and physiological responses. To learn more, visit Dr. Catherine’s webpage at iahp.com/ReflectiveWellness.
1. “Water: How much should you drink every day?” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Mayoclinic.org.
2. Kozisek, Frantisek. “Health Risks from Drinking Demineralized Water.” World Health Organization. Who.int.