For years we’ve been told to drink 8 glasses of water per day for optimum hydration, but that has since been proven to be an unreliable number. Natural health experts now recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces of water per day. If you’re 200 pounds, you should be drinking 100 ounces of water per day! That’s almost 3 litres or the better part of a gallon of water. I’ve told friends and clients for years that it’s not the amount of water you drink that matters, but rather the amount of water that actually makes it to your cells that matters.
What that means is that if the conditions are not right inside your body, any water you drink may simply pass right through. Want to improve your water absorption? read this article.
What? Me? Dehydrated?
I make it a point to be very conscious about the amount of water I drink. Water is critical to so very many functions in the human body, and given the amount of training I do, I’m drinking even more water to account for water lost during sweat and other exertion. I’ve always thought that I’ve been very aware of how much I’ve been drinking, but a recent body composition analysis told me that I was dehydrated.
You’ve GOT to be kidding me. I tend to piss people off because I keep talking about water all the time and encouraging them to drink more, and now I’ve found that I’m not drinking enough water.
That got my attention very quickly.
I made some changes to my daily routine and actually began keeping accurate water logs. I also decided to look at some science behind water absorption and how to increase water absorption. I took a three fold approach:
1. Drink more water
2. Measure the amount of water I’m drinking
3. Increase water absorption
Increasing Water Absorption
So what are the right conditions then, and how do we improve them and increase the absorption rate of the water we’re drinking? Great question.
Without getting into a huge amount of detail about it, lets just say that there are a lot of minerals involved in an ideal balanced blood chemistry for human health. Our hunter gather ancestors got on average, 11,000 mg of potassium per day and 700 mg of sodium. That’s a a ratio of almost 16:1. They acheived that by consuming a diet super rich in plants, fruits, nuts and seeds. Compare that to today’s average intakes of 2500mg and 7000mg or a ratio of (nearly) 1:3 potassium to sodium.
So, based on our origins, the natural approach to increasing water absorption is based on our diet and that being, a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and completely excluding any additional salt.
Step by step, here’s how to increase your water absorption
1. Eliminate all additional salt in your diet – DO NOT add salt to anything.
2. Increase your vegetables, nuts and seed consumption – with an emphasis on dark leafy greens such as Swiss chard, collards, mustard greens, spinach. This will increase potassium in your diet as well as amounts of fiber.
3. Eat Chia Seeds – Chia seeds absorb 12 times their weight in water. In addition to being a fantastic source of fiber and Omega 3’s, Chia absorbs water and carries it into the colon where it can be passed along into the body at a slower rate. Instead of drinking water and hoping some of it is absorbed, eating your water can be a way to slow the process down and allow it a timed release. Much like timed release of vitamins, you can time release your water. Chia seeds are an amazing food and part of my Desert Island Foods.
4. Supplement with Glutamine – Glutamine is one of the most over looked and under used weight loss supplements I’ve ever seen. It’s used by every cell of the body for energy, immune system function and as craving control for both carbohydrates and alcohol. Where water intake is concerned, glutamine improves water uptake into the cells because it depends on sodium for transport. Glutamine is one of the amino acids that controls the volume of water in the cells and osmotic pressure in other tissues.
In layman terms, what that means is that glutamine plays a role in the ability of water to cross from the bloodstream into the cells and vice versa. The side bonus of this is that glutamine also plays a role in the cells ability to release toxins and molecular garbage. Glutamine plays a role in detoxification (in which water plays a highly important part as well).
Added Benefits of This Approach
Water is used in many ways in the body. We retain water if we don’t drink enough and if our sodium potassium ratio is off. If we’re not allowing water into the cell, we’re not allowing wastes out of the cell either and that most certainly is not healthy.
The additional benefits of the four approaches above is that we should release some retained water, allow our body to clean itself, improve our energy levels, improve our mood and become more regular at the same time.
Water is critical to health. By improving the quality of our water as well as our ability to improve the absorption of the water we do drink, we improve how we look and how we feel.