The impressive benefits of this one lowly nutrient

Water is essential for life, let alone our skin.  We can survive about 8 weeks without food, but only a handful of days without water.  This liquid makes up about 55-60% of our total body mass (that’s a whopping 10-13 gallons!).  Most of our cells and body fluids are H2O.

Our skin is about 30% water, which contributes to plumpness, elasticity, and resiliency.  Also, water transports nutrients and oxygen (hello, glow!) to our skin cells and helps eliminate toxins.  Not only that, this amazing lowly nutrient supports our skin in healing wounds, scrapes and cuts since it accelerates re-epithelialization (..the making of new skin).  Aaaand…hyaluronan, the well-researched glycosaminoglycan in skin, is believed to promote skin healing by increasing skin hydration.

Only a measly 8% of water is produced within our body through metabolic processes.  And a whopping 92% must be ingested through what we eat and drink.  Unlike camels, our bodies don’t store much of it, so daily doses are essential.

How it works (basically)…

We eat something, we drink something, our digestion breaks it down and our guts absorb the water and shuttle it off to wherever it’s needed most.  But, this is a big but, we need electrolytes (little minerals) for proper absorption and to stop our kidneys from getting rid of too much of it. 

Interestingly, scientists found that when we get dehydrated we crave salt.  Smart brain.  Salt (sea salt, not regular table salt) is loaded with little minerals.  So adding a small dash of sea salt to our water provides the electrolyte boost our brain is shouting for.  Or, I’m sure you can hunt down a good electrolyte powder to sprinkle in your cup.

“Drinking water can prevent dehydration, a condition that can cause unclear thinking, result in mood change, cause your body to overheat, constipation, and kidney stones.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

It’s actually pretty common, and not at all surprising, to be dehydrated and not even know it.  There’s not really any standard tests out there to identify how hydrated or dehydrated you are.

But, listen to these facts listed in medical literature…when our body’s water content drops by 2% we get signs of fatigue, impaired memory, cloudy thinking, irritability, headaches, depression, and cramps, etc.  Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt any of these! A drop of 10% water content can trigger more significant health conditions such as heartburn, joint pain, back pain, migraines, constipation, kidney stones and others.  Reach a loss greater than 10% and you can die.

So how much should we be drinking??

The answer.  It depends.  Age, climate, gender, pregnancy, breastfeeding, physical activity level, how much diuretic beverages we’re drinking, and how much fruits/veggies we eat all impact how much water to drink. So a pregnant mom training for a marathon in the Sahara desert (please don't try this) needs quite a bit more water than a couch potato living in northern Alaska. 

Since there’s no set amount of water to drink there’s a recommended calculation to determine about how much you need:

Take your weight (in pounds) and divide by 2.  This is roughly the number of ounces you want to drink a day.  Example:  A 150 pound person should drink around 75 ounces of water a day.  So if a standard glass is 8 ounces, that means sip 9 to 10 glasses throughout the day.

Up your water intake if you consume diuretic drinks, if the weather is hot, with pregnancy or breastfeeding, and if you’re super active.

Note:  As we age our thirst mechanisms change so it becomes more difficult to recognize when we need to drink.  So it’s a good idea to sip on water throughout the day, even if you’re not feeling thirsty.

Diuretics.

So not everything that’s liquid is hydrating.  Because of the chemical reaction that happens in our body, some drinks actually cause dehydration.  These include coffee, caffeinated teas, soda, and alcohol.  For whatever annoying reason the stuff added to these drinks trigger our kidneys to excrete more water than they contain.  The fix is to up your daily water intake.

We can’t end this conversation without mentioning the flip side.  Too much water is a bad thing.  Be careful of hydrating overabundantly as it can cause a lot of problems (most of us don’t have to worry about this cause you do have to work at it to over hydrate).

 

I want to leave you with a simple self-care tip that could make an impressive impact on your days. 

Here it is…start each morning with one to two glasses of water with a dash of sea salt or lemon squeezed in (before eating or drinking anything else).  We're dehydrated in the morning because of the metabolic processes that happen during sleep.  Boosting our hydration first thing can have a significant impact on mental clarity and energy!

 

Hanna is a mom of busy children, is completing her Diploma is Organic Skincare Formulation and is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. Hanna's love of natural skincare began with her own journey of struggle and angst with skin issues. Finally, after finding no solutions she rolled up her sleeves and spent half a decade researching ingredients and formulas until....finally...something actually worked. Most of her time is spend trying to keep up with the kids, folding something like 99 loads of laundry a day, and making sure nobody starves (they seem to do that 30 minutes after meal time). But when she's got a spare minute she loves helping other women achieve radiance, naturally!

 

A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: The contents of this email and website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.  I am not a doctor nor do I pretend to have that level of knowledge.  These posts are intended for basic informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice of any sort. 

Article Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (May 12, 2017). Get the Facts: Drinking Water and Intake. Content source: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease)

Popkin, Barry M. D’Anci, Kristen E. Rosenberg, Irwin H.  Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. Water, Hydration and Health. PMCID: PMC2908954. NIHMSID: NIHMS210404

Shaun K Riebl, MS, RD, PhD. Brenda M. Davy, PhD, RD, FACSM.  Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise (0430), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  The Hydration Equation: Update on Water Balance and Cognitive Performance.  PMCID: PMC4207053.  NIHMSID: NIHMS525128.

Haas M.D., Elson M. Staying Healthy with Nutrition. New York: Ten Speed Press, 2006. Print.

 

August 04, 2021 — Hanna Hendrickson

Leave a comment

Just an FYI...comments are approved before they show up here (it's to weed out annoying spam messages that nobody likes).