Basic Health Habit No.3: Hydration

What is a human being?
A human being is a container invented by water 
so that it can walk around.

digestive health + electrolytes + fluid intake = 

Hydration is not about drinking lots of water.

Digestive Health
Hydration is a digestive function. A fully functional, intact digestive system is required, or the body's ability to hydrate may be adversely affected. Combining nutrients with fluids to create electrolyte solutions is one of the primary processes of the digestive system that starts in the mouth and continues throughout the entire digestive process. Water is one of many ways to meet the fluid needs of your body, but your body cannot use any fluid until it first converts it to a full electrolyte solution.

Please visit
for more helpful information

What you eat is as important as fluid intake
All fluids in the body are electrolyte solutions; fluids with dissolved minerals and salts. Electrolytes are fluid substances containing free ions that make the substance electrically conductive. Electrolytes produce positive and negative ions when dissolved. The proper balance of electrolytes creates an electrically-charged ionic pump that pushes fluid through the wall of a cell; without the force of this ionic pump, fluid collects outside of the cell, and finally disperses to our extremities.

Electrolytes are necessary for hydration - your body needs a proper balance and consistent supply of electrolytes. Fluid loss by frequent urination, often indicates an electrolyte imbalance and deficiency in the diet. Electrolyte balance can also be disturbed by sudden, immoderate volumes of water consumption.

The best way to get these nutrients, so that you never have to micro-manage them, is to eat a whole food, plant food-rich diet. Your daily diet must also include a healthy salt. This means that table salt would not qualify as a healthy salt. The key to a healthy salt is that it be naturally, or hand-harvested; then all the nutrients will be intact. It is possible to get as much as 20 percent of your daily fluid needs from diet alone. See Recommendations for Hydration below for more information about how to calculate your fluid needs.

Chronic Dehydration in Canada

More than 95% of the people on my massage table experience nasal congestion within the first five minutes, and report that it is consistently an issue, day-to-day. This will prevent relaxation during treatment. Nasal congestion is a reliable symptom of chronic dehydration. 

HEALTH COACH has identified the top three reasons for dehydration in Canada:


Dehydration is defined as the excessive loss of body fluid. In physiological terms, it entails a deficiency of fluid within an organism. There are three types of dehydration: hypotonic or hyponatremic (primarily a loss of electrolytes, sodium in particular), hypertonic or hypernatremic (primarily a loss of water), and isotonic or isonatremic (equal loss of water and electrolytes). In humans, the most commonly seen type of dehydration by far is isotonic (isonatraemic) dehydration. Physiologically, dehydration, despite the name, does not simply mean loss of water, as water and solutes (mainly sodium) are usually lost in roughly equal quantities to how they exist in blood plasma. In hypotonic dehydration, intravascular water shifts to the extravascular space, exaggerating intravascular volume depletion for a given amount of total body water loss. Neurological complications can occur in hypotonic and hypertonic states. The former can lead to seizures, while the latter can lead to osmotic cerebral edema upon rapid rehydration. 

Signs and symptoms of dehydration may include headaches similar to what is experienced during a hangover, muscle cramps (especially leg cramps), a sudden episode of visual snow, decreased blood pressure (hypotension), and dizziness or fainting when standing up due to orthostatic hypotension. Untreated dehydration generally results in delirium, unconsciousness, swelling of the tongue and, in extreme cases, death. 

Dehydration symptoms generally become noticeable after 2% of one's normal water volume has been lost. Initially, one experiences thirst and discomfort, possibly along with loss of appetite and dry skin. This can be followed by constipation. Athletes may suffer a loss of performance of up to 30% and experience flushing, low endurance, rapid heart rates, elevated body temperatures, and rapid onset of fatigue. 

Symptoms of mild dehydration include thirst, decreased urine volume, abnormally dark urine, unexplained tiredness, irritability, lack of tears when crying, headache, dry mouth, dizziness when standing due to orthostatic hypotension, and in some cases can cause insomnia. Other possible symptoms include cloudy urine and stinging during urination. Blood tests may show hyperalbuminemia. Hyperalbuminemia is an increased concentration of albumin in the blood. Typically, this condition is due to abrupt dehydration. Chronic dehydration needs to be treated with zinc as well as with water. Zinc reduces cell swelling caused by decreased intake of water (hypotonicity) and also increases retention of salt. Mild dehydration also has been shown to negatively impact people’s moods. Dehydration is associated with confusion, fatigue, and negative moods. In moderate to severe dehydration, there may be no urine output at all. Other symptoms in these states include lethargy or extreme sleepiness, seizures, sunken fontanel (babies), fainting, and sunken eyes. 

The symptoms become increasingly severe with greater water loss. Heart and respiration rates increase to compensate for decreased plasma volume and blood pressure, while body temperature may rise because of decreased sweating. At 5% - 6% water loss symptoms may include grogginess, sleepiness, headaches, nausea, and tingling in the extremities (paresthesia). 10% - 15% fluid loss symptoms include muscles spasm, decreased skin turgor, vision impairment, reduced urination which may become painful, and delirium. Losses greater than 15% are usually fatal. 

Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract can lead to dehydration in various ways. Often, dehydration becomes the major problem in an otherwise self-limited illness. Fluid loss may even be severe enough to become life-threatening.


Water is a critical nutrient. Every system in your body needs water. Water is the basis for all biological processes. After oxygen it is the most important substance for human health. A healthy, hydrated body is 55 - 78% water. It accounts for one-half to four-fifths of body weight. 

Healthy muscles are 75% water; fascia is 80% and is the site of all fluid exchange; blood is 82%; lungs are 90%; the brain is 76%, and bones are 25% water. The body needs a balanced, constant amount to function normally. Water helps to regulate body temperature; blood pressure; metabolism; transports oxygen and nutrients to cells, and flushes toxins from vital organs. 

All fluids contain water. 
Water is just one of many ways to meet the fluid needs of your body.

You need fluids long before you are thirsty. Thirst is the body's last indication of dehydration. More than a third of us regularly mistake our thirst for hunger. A university study found that one glass of water prevented midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of case studies. 

Mild dehydration slows down metabolism and brain function, and causes headaches, nausea, constipation, fatigue and chills. Moderate dehydration results in increased heart rate, increased muscle tightness, pain, congestion, cramps, increased back and joint pain, heartburn, tingling hands and feet, and impairment of short term memory. These are just some of the signs of dehydration.

Chronic (long-term) dehydration can lead to depression and sleep disorders (water is needed for the production of Seratonin and Melatonin), digestive disorders, kidney stones, gall stones, ganglion cysts, hiatus hernia, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, angina, migraines, strokes, colitis, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, breast, colon, pancreas and liver cancer (drinking 5 glasses of water can reduce your risk by 50-80%), adult-onset diabetes, allergies and impaired vision.


Why Your Body Needs Proper Hydration
click to expand image

Dr. Dave Carpenter, N.D., in his book: Change Your Water, Change Your Life, states: 
When cellular water is reduced during water rationing (dehydration), each cell is required to limp along with less than the optimal amount of water. This results in symptoms that are sometimes mistaken for illness.

Medical Maverick, F. Batmanghelidj, M.D., after years of clinical treatment and research, concludes that chronic water dehydration is the cause of and water is the cure for many degenerative and auto immune diseases, cancer, osteoporosis, hormonal imbalance, heart disease and stroke, allergies, asthma, leukemia and lymphoma, MS, Lupus and Attention Deficit Disorder, in his books: Your Body's Many Cries for Water, and You're Not Sick, You're Thirsty! 

The Electrolyte Ionic Pump 

All fluids in the body are electrolyte solutions; fluids with dissolved minerals and salts. Electrolytes are fluid substances containing free ions that make the substance electrically conductive. Electrolytes produce positive and negative ions when dissolved.

Water loss is always accompanied by electrolyte loss. Both are critical for proper hydration. Electrolytes are needed for proper hydration of the the body.

Normally, your body loses water by perspiration, respiration, urination and bowel movements. The body loses an average of 6.3 cups of water through urination and 1 litre of water a day through respiration. If you are not replacing this amount daily, you are dehydrated.

Physical exertion; heat exposure; artificially heated and cooled living and work environments; mouth breathing, diuretics, and other medications; high protein diets, smoking; carbonated and high sugar drinks; stress; poor diet; laxative misuse; alcohol; high protein diets; lack of sleep; vomiting, and diarrhea, are all dehydrating. The estimated water loss at 100 degrees Fahrenheit is 1 litre every hour. 

Electrolytes regulate fluid balance, transport nutrients, support muscle, nerve, and brain function, help convert calories into energy, regulate pH, and conduct energy. 

The primary electrolytes required in body fluid include calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium (positive ions), and chloride, carbonates, aminoacetate, phosphate and iodide (negative ions).

The human body needs an intracellular and extracellular balance of electrolytes. The different electrolyte solutions of positive and negative ions inside and outside cells help to move fluid into the cell and deliver nutrients and oxygen and move fluid out of the cell and remove waste. 

When electrolytes are depleted, fluid movement is sluggish and causes cells and our body to be dehydrated. Water also becomes trapped outside cells and causes water retention. Electrolytes regulate hydration, homeostasis (regulation of internal environment to ensure stability in response to the external environment), oxygen delivery, blood pH, and are critical for nerve and muscle function. 

The best food source of electrolytes are high fibre plant foods, fresh vegetables and fruit, and healthy, naturally harvested sea and earth salts with their rich complement of minerals. Whole foods are rich in the nutrients which are electrolytes. Coconut water contains the five, key electrolytes. The need for proper hydration is critical to healthy growth, development, maintenance, physiological function, and for healthy aging. 

The most common and critical electrolyte imbalance involves the levels of calcium, potassium and sodium. Our body needs a 1:1 ratio of sodium:potassium. The average North American diet is 5:1 ratio of salt:potassium as a result of processed, high sodium food choices. 

Histamine is a chemical that our body releases in response to a shortage of water, salt and potassium. The best natural antihistamine is salt. Salt is needed to balance potassium. Salt helps to regulate blood volume and pressure and controls water balance. 

The recommended daily amount (RDA) for an adult, 2000 calorie diet:
  • Sodium - Ng: 2400 mg. 
  • Potassium - K: 2000 mg.
  • Magnesium - Mg: men: 420mg / women: 320mg. 
  • Calcium - Ca: 1000 mg. 
  • Chloride - Cl: 2g.

Some examples of electrolyte imbalance are: elevated potassium leads to heart arrhythmias; decreased potassium causes less insulin to be produced and leads to elevated blood sugar levels, fatigue, muscle weakness and cramps and in extreme cases, paralysis. Decreased levels of calcium and magnesium cause muscle weakness and spasms, numbness in hands and feet and in extreme cases confusion and seizures. 

Some of the causes of electrolyte imbalances are poor nutrition and hydration, neglect of basic health habits, immoderate  and unhealthy habitual behaviour, medications, widespread infection, vomiting, diarrhea, cancer, kidney failure, and thyroid disorders.

Please visit: 

Recommendations for Hydration
  • Consistency is the most important quality to develop and attain in your hydration habit
  • Average minimum requirements for adult men: 3 litres; women: 2.2 litres.
  • Divide your body weight in half = oz. water/dayfor example, if you weigh 160 lbs. the daily recommended amount of water would be 80 oz. or 10 cups of water a day, minimum.
  • 8 oz of water for every hour spent on a plane
  • Dry climate, artificially heated, or air-conditioned environment add 2 - 8 oz glasses of water.
  • If drinking alcohol, drink equal parts water.
  • For athletes: weigh yourself before you go out for an hour of exercise, and then weigh yourself again when you get home. That’s the weight of fluid you should be taking in per hour. As the saying goes: a pint’s a pound the world around. So plan to drink a pint, or two cups, of liquid for every pound you lose during exercise. For example, if you come back half a pound lighter, you should drink one cup of water per hour of exercise. Do this in a range of temps and intensities, and you’ll have guidelines to follow in every possible set of conditions. Just don’t take in substantially more water than you lose - that’s a recipe for hyponatremia (overhydration). To get really scientific, you need to check your pee: Outside
  • Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy protein choices and limit high sodium, processed foods.
  • Low carbohydrate, high protein, and processed, high sodium diets need increased amounts of water.
  • The best food source of electrolytes are high fibre plant foods, fresh vegetables and fruit, and healthy, naturally harvested sea and earth salts with their rich complement of minerals. Whole foods are rich in the nutrients which are electrolytes. Coconut water contains the five, key electrolytes. The need for proper hydration is critical to healthy growth, development, maintenance, physiological function, and for healthy aging. 
  • Drink green, red (Rooibus) and white tea. Black tea is O.K. All tea counts 100% as water intake.
  • Pregnancy, breast feeding, children, chronic disease and illness require more hydration.
  • Remember, thirst is the last indication of dehydration and our sensation of thirst is diminished as we age.
  • Your urine should be odorless and colourless. This indicates proper hydration.
  • Flavour your water with fruit or cucumber slices or a drop of pure (not synthetic) essential oil of peppermint or sweet orange.
  • Use naturally harvested earth and sea salts which contain minerals - not table salt which has the minerals removed - to aid proper electrolyte balance.
  • Dilute fruit juice (not from concentrate) with equal parts water.
  • Home Remedy for electrolyte replacement: 8 oz orange juice with a pinch of salt and 1/2 t. honey, sipped alternately with 8 oz water with 1/4 t. baking soda. 
  • Taste your water. Like food, the water that you drink must also mix with saliva which contains mineral electrolytes, to be properly utilized by your body.
  • There are many different ways to meet the fluid needs of your body - water is just one option.
  • Please visit HEALTH COACH Practical Guide to Health for more helpful information
  • Safe Drinking Water: Where You Should And Shouldn't Drink From The Tap
  • The purest water in the world?
  • Water I The Council of Canadians
  • Canadian Water Network

click to expand

Drinking Water Reviews 

The best drinking water is contaminant-free, mineral-rich with an alkaline pH and should taste good.

Big Berkey Water Filter System

Stainless Steel Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter System is a light, portable counter top system which does not need electricity and therefore is the perfect system in case of emergencies. You put the water in the top chamber and gravity pulls it through the media filters to capture bacteria, parasites, pesticides, solvents, nitrates, lead, mercury, chlorine and fluoride. I highly recommend this water filter system. 
Berkey Water Filter Canada

Distilled Water Distillation is a process where the water is boiled, evaporated and the vapour is condensed (cooled), which removes contaminants but it also removes valuable minerals; is acidic and may leach essential minerals and vitamins from your body.

Reverse Osmosis Water This is a water purification method which forces water through a semi- permeable membrane to remove contaminants but also removes minerals; is acidic and may leach minerals and vitamins from your body.

Ozonated Water Ozone is an unstable form of oxygen. The type of oxygen that we breathe is O2 (two atoms of oxygen), ozone is O3. It is well known in science, medicine and health fields that oxygen deprivation at the cellular level leads to disease. Typically cellular oxygenation happens through breathing, exercise, pure water and a diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruit. 

Ozone is considered activated oxygen and is used therapeutically. There are three common methods of production: 1. by ultraviolet light 2. cold plasma 3. corona discharge which was originally designed for industrial use but is now available for home and personal use. Corona discharge generators are considered best for producing medical grade ozone water. The potential benefits are in it's ability to break down harmful synthetic chemicals and to kill viruses, bacteria, fungi and algae; to kill cancer cells, slow tumour growth and stop the malignancy of cancer; oxygenate the brain and to boost the immune system. But precautions are recommended: distilled, reverse osmosis or tap water should not be ozonated. Zinc, selenium and vitamin E should be taken to support the detoxifying process. Only glass containers should be used. Use the ozone generator in a well-ventilated area and do not breathe the ozone which can damage lung tissue. The ozonated water should be consumed within 10 minutes.

Ionized Alkaline Water Has all six of the recommended qualities of drinking water: contaminant-free, mineral rich, alkaline pH, micro-clustered (small groups of water molecules for improved cellular hydration and ionic pump), negative oxidation reduction potential (acts as a powerful anti-oxidant) and tastes good. This is a water filter system with an ionizing chamber. The two main choices for this system which I would recommend are: Kangan (return to origin)/ Enagic Ionizers and Ionways water ionizer. There are some differences: the Ionway system has the option of being counter top or under sink, is less expensive; has an automatic valve system which is not controlled by a faucet and water can be produced even when the system is cleaning.

Vitamin Water Contains synthetic vitamins and are very high in sugar. I recommend that you make your own by adding fresh juiced organic vegetable or fruit juice to water or adding nutrient dense ingredients such as goji, mangosteen, seabuckthorn berry, wheat grass, spirulina, blueberry, raspberry or acerola cherry juice, noni, amalki, chlorella or  super green powder (E3AFA) to water.

Spring Water If the source is pure and dependable this is an excellent water choice with all the recommended qualities of drinking water. This is water from mountain or artesian springs. Jackson Springs is a Winnipeg company that sells Manitoba artesian spring water.

Filtered Tap Water The most commonly used Brita filter reduces chlorine taste and odour and removes some lead, mercury and copper content from tap water. For more information on Winnipeg's new Water Treatment Plant, opened December 9th, 2009 at the Deacon Reservoir

Electrolyte and Carbohydrate Replacement Drinks Only recommended in extreme cases of fluid loss electrolyte depletion. The commercial drinks are very high in sugar or artificial sweeteners. See above for a better alternative home recipe. 

Here is another recipe: 

Electrolyte - Carbohydrate Replacement Drink: 3/4 t. sea salt, 1/2 t. baking soda, 4 t. cream of tartar, 1 T. sugar and 1 litre of water. Optional 1 T of orange juice or 2 t. lemon juice.

Lithia Water is a mineral water characterized by the presence of lithium salts. Research studies measuring the effects of trace levels of lithium, commonly found in lithia waters, have demonstrated neuroprotective abilities, improvements in mood and cognitive function. Lithium compounds yield positive outcomes as a treatment for manic depressive disease. A current clinical study is investigating whether daily use of lithia water will improve new brain cell formation and reduce neuronal oxidative stress.

Happy Water Living Water which is revitalized and re-mineralized; ultra purified with Kalahari crystal salts.

You Should Stop Drinking Plastic Bottled Water

While convenient, a high percentage of single-serving bottled water is reprocessed tap, distilled or reverse osmosis water, has low filtration and disinfectant standards and is not tested by government certified labs. Also personal plastic bottles contain petroleum oil products, are expensive, and costly to the environment taking 300 years to degrade. Some are recycled but as many as 86% are not. I recommend that you  choose spring water or a water filtration  system that suits you and purchase a re-useable drinking container.


What is a human being?...  
Deane Juhan,  Job's Body 

The tantalizing glass of water:  
Daffodilius on Flickr

1 comment:

  1. Love this info! Thank you for helping me to make small simple changes with monumental benefit! Helping me to be healthy is the best gift you could give Matthew!


This is the place where you leave a comment about information you have read here at HEALTH COACH. Thank you