Stressor Spotlight: Hydration
We can’t survive more than a few days without water, and roughly 60% of the body is made up of this essential nutrient. From helping the body eliminate toxic substances and promoting regularity to regulating body temperature, maintaining organ health, and more, water impacts the body in a variety of ways.
What is hydration?
Hydration not only involves water intake, but also the ability of the body to absorb water. The quality of the water we consume and its components directly affect how effectively we absorb it. This includes the rate at which it enters the body pool, how long it is retained in the body, and the restoration of electrolyte and substrate deficits.1
Sodium, or salt, is a critical substance in the body’s ability to absorb water. If you don’t have enough sodium in your body, you won’t be able to adequately retain water or absorb nutrients from the small intestine. Conversely, too much sodium in the body causes thirst. The thirst response is a mechanism the body uses to maintain water and electrolyte balance.2
We get hydrated primarily by drinking water and other beverages, but much of the food we eat contains a significant amount of water as well. For example, foods like watermelon and lettuce are more than 90% water, and even meats, pasta, legumes, and other similar foods have more than 50% water content.3
The stomach, small intestine, large intestine, kidneys, and bladder are key players in the hydration process. The small intestine is where water is absorbed into our cells and blood stream, and the kidneys utilize water to filter toxins in the body. Water that isn’t absorbed by the body is eliminated via the kidneys, large intestine, skin, and mouth (via breathing).
Causes of dehydration
Dehydration occurs when we lose more water than we take in. Typically, loss of sodium is also associated with dehydration as well.
Common causes of dehydration include:
- Not drinking enough water
- Not adequately absorbing water (poor water quality, etc.)
- Drinking caffeinated beverages
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Frequent urination (caused by diabetes, medications, etc.)
- Excessive sweating
- Diarrhea or vomiting
Certain people may be at greater risk for dehydration. This includes people at high altitudes, athletes, people with chronic illnesses, children, and older adults.
Signs of chronic dehydration
Dehydration happens to everyone, but chronic dehydration is more common than you might think. A survey conducted in 1998 revealed that 3 out of 4 participants were chronically dehydrated. Interestingly, survey results also showed that alcohol, caffeinated beverages, and a high-sodium diet were the main culprits of the participants’ chronic dehydration.4
The first clinical signs of dehydration are apparent when we lose an equivalent of 4-6% of our total body weight in water. Moderate dehydration correlates with losses of 8-10%, while severe dehydration occurs when fluid losses exceed 12% of our body weight.5
While signs of mild dehydration include thirst, dry mouth, and dark yellow urine, the symptoms of chronic dehydration are more severe. These include:
- Skin issues
- Aches and pains
- Lack of mental clarity
- Rapid heartbeat
- Sunken eyes
Along with these symptoms, chronic dehydration correlates to a number of diseases. There is strong evidence that it is linked with urolithiasis (kidney/bladder stones) and bronchopulmonary disorders, and there is also evidence that it correlates with hyperglycemia in diabetics, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and dental diseases.3 Additionally, dehydration may lead to digestive disorders and cause chronic pain.
How much water is enough?
So how much water is enough? Some experts say that you should drink half of your body weight in ounces; others say that 8 cups a day is enough. While these are good starting points, hydration needs are different for every person. If you are exerting yourself and sweating excessively, more water will obviously be required.
It is generally better to error on the side of caution and drink more water than necessary, as dehydration is far more common than overhydration. In addition to the water you drink, you should also take into account the water content of the food you eat. Together, you should get 92-124 ounces, or 11.5 to 15.5 cups, per day from these water sources.6 But again, use this recommendation as a starting point and consider your personal situation when determining how much water to drink.
If you are suffering from chronic dehydration, it’s also important to replace electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. This may be accomplished by drinking an adequate amount of high-quality water, but an oral rehydration solution may be needed in severe cases. Similarly, an IV solution containing sodium chloride is often used to treat severe dehydration.
Which type of water is best?
In addition to the amount of water you drink, you should also consider the source of your water. Tap water and bottled water often contain contaminants and have other characteristics that make it difficult for the body to absorb. And although purer, distilled and reverse-osmosis water lack essential minerals and are also difficult for the body to absorb. This being the case, your best choice for water will likely be a pure well water or spring water, or an ionized (electrolyzed-reduced) water.
At the very least, make sure to filter your tap water to avoid as many harmful contaminants as possible. Most ionized water machines also include a water filter, and you can filter local well or spring water if you are worried about contaminants from this source. Water contaminants can also be absorbed through the skin and inhaled through the mouth, so it’s a good idea to put a filter on your bath and shower fixtures as well.
Diet & lifestyle tips for hydration
A hydration-friendly lifestyle begins in the morning and lasts throughout the day. Dehydration is common upon waking, so make sure to drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. You can also add lemon and sea salt to your morning drink to enhance detoxification. To ensure that you are staying hydrated, continue to drink water consistently throughout the day. Additionally, drinking water about 30 minutes before a meal can assist with digestion.7
Like a number of health concerns, reducing or eliminating smoking and alcohol consumption can greatly improve hydration. Avoiding caffeinated beverages and sugary foods improves hydration too. An active lifestyle promotes removal of toxins and replacement of water, so make sure to get plenty of exercise and replenish what you lose with additional water.
Along with containing water, foods can be great sources of electrolytes, fiber, and other substances that benefit hydration. Due to their high content of these substances, fruits and vegetables are at the top of the list of hydrating foods. The following are some of the best fruits, vegetables, and other foods for hydration:
- Bell peppers
- Broth-based soups
- Greek yogurt
Hydration stressor Virtual item
Hydration is one of the key lifestyle categories scanned in the ZYTO Balance biosurvey along with Diet & Nutrition, Toxic Stress, Mental/Emotional Stress, Sleep, and Inflammation. A bioscan can reveal whether the digital signature, which we call a Virtual Item, representing hydration is out of normal range, and also indicate the degree to which it is out of balance. This category is also available to scan in the ZYTO Select and Elite software, and is a key category scanned in the Lifestyle Add-on Biosurvey.
Along with scanning for the category as a whole, individual Virtual Items within the Hydration category are also scanned in the Balance and Lifestyle biosurveys. This includes the following items:
- Immune System
- Urinary Bladder
- Water Contaminants
For more in-depth hydration support, the Hydration Add-on Biosurvey is available in the Select and Elite software. This biosurvey gathers the body’s responses to body system, hormone, and neurotransmitter Virtual Items that greatly impact hydration, as well as other key stressors that affect hydration and specific water contaminants.
Balancer Virtual Items for Hydration
A balancer scan is typically done after the Hydration category and other stressors are scanned. The ZYTO report will then show the top balancing Virtual Items that brought all the out-of-range, or out-of-balance, stressors back into range. These balancing Virtual Items may include supplements, foods, or other items.
In the Wellness Report in the ZYTO Balance software, you can see which balancing products specifically support all the out-of-range items within the Hydration category. And in the Biomarker Progress Chart in the Advanced Report, you can also see which product brought a specific hydration stressor item back into range.
In the Lifestyle Add-on Biosurvey, general balancers for the Hydration category such as Probiotics, Sodium, and Watermelon can be scanned in addition to product balancers. The Select and Elite also allows you to scan other hydration-related items such as Water, Water pH, Double Helix Water, and Alkaline Water.
With the Hydration Add-on Biosurvey, additional balancers are scanned. These include electrolytes such as Sodium and Magnesium, herbs such as Slippery Elm and Yarrow, and homeopathic cell salts such as Calcium Phosphate and Magnesia Phosporica.
Lastly, we can’t ignore the fact that hydration can both affect and be affected by our emotional health. With the ZYTO EVOX, you can work through any emotional issues that may be affecting hydration. This proprietary perception reframing process allows you to support hydration and your overall wellness in a more holistic way.
1. Leiper, J.B. “Fate of ingested fluids: factors affecting gastric emptying and intestinal absorption of beverages in humans.” Nutrition Reviews 73 (2015): 57-72.
2. Lewis, James L. “About Body Water.” Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Merckmanuals.com.
3. Popkin, B.M., K.E. D’Anci, & I.H. Rosenberg. “Water, Hydration and Health.” Nutrition Reviews 68, no. 8 (2010): 439-458.
4. “6 Dehydration Facts That May Surprise You.” DripDrop Hydration, PBC. Dripdrop.com.
5. Carlson, G.P., & M. Bruss. “Chapter 17 – Fluid, Electrolyte, and Acid-Base Balance.” Clinical Biochemistry of Domestic Animals (Sixth Edition) (2008): 529-559.
6. “Nutrition and healthy eating.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Mayoclinic.org.
7. “What are the benefits of drinking water before each meal?” Sharecare, Inc. Sharecare.com.