Born and raised in Houston and after so many years, I think it’s fair to say my body is not going to figure out how to adapt to Houston summers. On my most recent visit, I really felt and noticed in others, the effects of the hot, high humid weather. Several individuals showed the need for increased water intake. As part of our metabolic evaluations, we calculate a person’s hydration index. A measurement using saliva pH, urine pH, and specific gravity will determine if you are dehydrated or over-hydrated. Yes, we sometimes find a person’s metabolism being harmed by drinking too much water.
Interesting response when I ask about water. I typically ask what type of water do you drink? The reply is very often, “I know I need to drink more water.” They say this even when I find that they are drinking too much water. Often, when I tell them they are showing the need for more water their response is, “but I drink tons of water, how could that be?” What I have noticed is how often a person’s perception regarding how much water they should consume is inaccurate. Why is that?
Our thirst sensation is triggered by several feedback signals dealing with blood pressure, blood volume, and concentration. But even if these systems are working perfectly (which is not often), there is still the issue of not paying enough attention, and responding appropriately to what our body really needs or wants. I believe one reason is many of us are too busy to stop and smell the roses; or much less, feel the subtle innate wisdom from our physiology attempting to improve our choices. Fortunately, as we get healthier, our ability to make better choices improves. Healthy people make healthy choices, unhealthy people make unhealthy choices.
Drinking good quality and the proper quantity of water is the most important health strategy we can do. There is so much incredible information regarding water’s influence on our health, it was hard to know where to start. So I’m not going to start, at least in this article. I will warn you, the level of misinformation on this topic is overwhelming. No wonder so many health seekers are confused, misguided, and sadly, not as healthy as they deserve, relative to all their efforts.
It’s not good enough to just drink a bunch of water and think you have corrected your hydration issues. Notice the difference when you pour water over clay verses over a sponge? Are you someone that drinks lots of water and seemingly pees it all out? Conversely, consider the person who takes a diuretic prescription to reduce blood pressure or prevent their ankles from swelling. Water movement, assimilation, and elimination, is dealing with electrolytes, fluid dynamics, pH control, electromagnetic properties, and much more.
Good news, the correct scientific information is already integrated into the metabolic testing we do in our office. We routinely test the electrolyte balance as part of our metabolic evaluation. This area looks at kidneys, adrenals, and cardiovascular function.… when electrolyte balance is off, no metabolic pathway works optimally and any condition or disease can result. These health issues deserve and require a much more in depth discussion. For now, here are some drinking water guidelines you can implement to become healthier, regardless of your current state of health.
Regarding the quantity you should drink, everyone has heard of the standard 8 cups a day. The World Health Organization recommends 4-7 cups for women, and 6-11 cups for men. These amounts are not very specific. I recommend you divide your body weight (in pounds) by 2, this will tell you the amount of water you should drink daily in ounces. For example, if you weight 120 pounds, divide by 2, and your daily water intake equals 60 ounces. Someone with kidney stress may need to go higher. The best time to drink water is in the morning before breakfast. Try to consume about 1/3 of your daily water intake before breakfast. Other good times to drink water is on an empty stomach before meals. Drinking with meals should be minimized to avoid interfering with digestion. Since food stays in your stomach for about 4 hours after eating, try to not drink during that time.
The quality is more complicated to get right, partly due to so much misinformation, especially regarding pH. I want to make clear that drinking “alkaline water” to push your body pH more alkaline should not be your goal. Acidosis is not the cause of all diseases. Body pH is maintained with feedback systems that operate in a dualistic manner. Meaning, it is just as harmful to be too alkaline, as it is to be too acid. Honestly, I probably see more cases of alkaline imbalance than acid imbalance. There is nothing magical about alkaline water. Yes, you want your water to have a pH of 7 or more, but consider what is responsible for the higher pH. Anybody can add baking soda and turn their water more alkaline. Don't do that, unless we have measured your metabolism and determined it to be too acid, then it can be beneficial...for awhile.
Humans are very inefficient at obtaining calcium and magnesium from food. Much of the calcium in foods are bound to oxalates, phosphates, and phytates, making them hard to absorb. A good source of hard drinking water is your best way to obtain calcium and magnesium. It is primarily calcium and magnesium carbonates, sulfates, and phosphates that determine the pH. These mineral components are the total dissolved solids, and together they determine the hardness factor which should be 170 or more. Studies show you can decrease your chances of cardiovascular disease by 41% when you consume water that is high in total dissolved solids. Reverse osmosis and distilled water lack the mineral nutrients that spring water supplies.
The ideal situation is to have a local spring water company deliver your water in a 5 gallon glass bottle. Glass containers are the best storage for drinking water. As stated above, the specifications of the water should have a pH of 7.0 or higher, and a hardness factor of at least 170. Mountain Valley Spring Water appears to comply with all these guidelines. There are probably other companies, but you should call to get an analysis of their water. Another option is to buy the 2 ½ gallon container of spring water at your local grocery store. You will also need to buy a large glass dispenser. Due to the plastic, there will be some polyphenolic compounds, and to help eliminate some of these pollutants do the following: Pour your water from the plastic container to your glass dispenser using a thin stream. As your water passes through air, much of the volatile pollutants will be blown off.
I tried using a water home testing kit and did not get congruent results. So my suggestion is to call the water company that you want to use and ask for an analysis of their water.
Do not drink chlorinated, fluoridated, or softened water. Municipal water out of the tap, (chemically treated), will probably not have the required total dissolved solids or proper pH. A filter cannot make good water out of bad water.