Hydrating your body well throughout the year doesn’t have to be difficult. Here’s what I’ve learned from my favorite book: Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford, about efficient water assimilation, how individual needs vary, and how to establish a routine to get enough water daily.
I grew up drinking refrigerated colas when I felt thirsty (as nearly everyone did who lived in hot, Southern California weather), which are actually dehydrating because of the sugar & caffeine they contain. These days, whenever my stomach gurgles, instead of asking myself if I’m hungry, I now ask myself if I’m thirsty. And, I find that a quart of lemon-water going down my throat is usually what my body was asking for. But, an entire quart might be too much for some people to drink at one time. My personal daily water need is great because I feel hot much of the time, I’m physically active, and about 30% of my protein foods are good quality eggs or meats with some unrefined salts.
How much water should we be drinking daily? It’s different for everyone according to Pitchford, but many doctors are now recommending drinking more water daily for nearly every disease. It’s a fact that most modern people are chronically dehydrated, as processed foods contain little or no water, and refined ingredients are also dehydrating. A diet of mostly processed foods and animal products without drinking enough re-mineralized water can cause many different bodily organs to shrink and shrivel over time. Scary!
From my studies, I believe that most of us, because we eat significant amounts of animal products and often eat dry, processed foods, we should hydrate with about ½ of our ideal body weight in ounces per day. These needs would probably be a little less in the wintertime, and maybe a little more than this in hot summer weather, or with physical exertion or sweating. Some people think we should only drink when thirsty, but most modern people’s thirst mechanism has been stunted from a lifetime of access to only chlorinated water, which often leads to dehydration.
A great rule of thumb is to judge one’s water needs by the color of one’s urine. If your urine is dark orange-brown in color and scant, you are dehydrated. Urine should flow regularly throughout the day (at least every 2hrs), and it should be pale yellow.
Factors which increase water requirements:
Consumption of meat, eggs or salty foods
Fever, Heat, or Excess conditions (overweight, red skin or tongue, fast pulse, tumors, etc)
Hot, Dry, Windy Climates
When I started drinking about 70 ounces of re-mineralized water daily (I weigh 140lb), I began to feel SO MUCH BETTER! I had more energy, I craved fewer carbohydrates, my bowels became unconstipated, my headaches and my allergies reduced significantly, and I even lost weight. By the way, all this happened to an even further degree, along with even more signs of increased vitality, a few years later, when I decided to cut refined sugars out of my diet.
A realistic starting point for most people, is to start out drinking 8-16oz of water at one time, especially if larger amounts are difficult. As a person begins to hydrate their body regularly, they’ll feel thirsty more often, and then they’ll gradually be able to drink more at one time.
When is the best time to drink water? It’s ideal to drink at times other than when we eat, so as not to inhibit digestion. You see, drinking more than 4oz with a meal will dilute your valuable stomach acids and enzymes. So ideally, you’ll want to hydrate between meals, with 16-24oz of re-mineralized water, 4-5 times a day.
My current routine is to drink about 40oz throughout the morning (usually warm lemon-water, which is great for the liver), as I usually feel dehydrated when I wake up. Then, I’ll eat breakfast when I actually feel hungry around 10AM (fasting in the AM helps re-set your metabolism to burn fats instead of sugars), and then, a couple of hours after breakfast, I’ll drink another 32oz or so. According to food combining principles for best digestion, after a meal it’s best to wait at least 90 minutes before drinking a large amount, and after drinking a large amount, it’s best to wait at least 30 minutes before eating.
What do I mean by re-mineralizing? Re-mineralizing water means adding trace minerals (aka: electrolytes) to it. This is important to do because straight H2O (distilled water) doesn’t actually hydrate the body well. When water is void of minerals, the body can’t utilize it efficiently. By re-mineralizing your water, it’s like you’re making your own GatorAid, but without the sugar! Straight H2O can actually pull minerals from the body as it passes through. Think about it; water comes to us naturally in wells and streams where minerals are present.
What to add to your 16oz glass of water to re-mineralize it (choose one)
1/16tsp (pinch) of sea salt (Celtic, Himalayan, Portuguese, or Real Salt brand)
juice from a lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit
1-2tsp of raw apple cider vinegar
2oz any 100% fruit juice
2-3oz soak water from soaking sea vegetables for cooking
All of these listed above contain trace minerals. I like adding lemon juice to my water, as it takes my thirst away immediately and is gently cleansing to all my organs. Raw apple cider vinegar is more strongly cleansing, very alkalizing to the pH, aids digestion, helps prevent arthritis crystals from forming when taken regularly, and has many other benefits. But those with weakened or sensitive kidneys should use apple cider vinegar sparingly. Whole sea salt is great to replace bodily electrolytes in the summer, or when working out and sweating lots. Also, sea salt is best for containers which can’t be rinsed or washed regularly, because salt inhibits bacterial growth. 100% fruit juice is tasty, but is usually too sugary for those with candida overgrowth symptoms.
Water Sources: Tap water is usually swimming with both chlorine and fluoride, both of which are very bad for nearly every system in the body. Water vending machines outside grocery stores are not very thorough at completely cleaning these elements out of municipal tap water. So, get your water from a good reverse osmosis filter, purifier, distiller, micro-filter, or from a good water store like my favorite: Central Coast Pure Water in the Laguna Village Shopping Center at Madonna Rd and LOVR. The sweet man who runs the shop is named LaLo, and I totally enjoy seeing him regularly when I bring my BPA free, plastic bottles into his store about once a week for a refill. He is totally helpful, charming and funny, and has become one of my dearest friends.
Best Water Containers: Try to use glass, stainless steel, or ceramic bottles to store and carry your daily drinking water on the go. I’ve found that most stainless steel water bottles eventually give the water a slightly metallic taste, especially if you’re adding sea salt to re-mineralize it. So, I like using a 32oz glass mason jar for my purse.
If you use big polycarbonate bottles to fill up at a water store as I do, get the new ones labeled BPA-free. And NEVER buy or drink water sold in convenient, low-grade plastic bottles (labeled on bottom as #7 or lower) because they leach toxic plasticides (toxic chemicals such as BPA, and even synthetic estrogens) into the water, especially if the bottles get warm in the car.