By Suzanne Forcese
“Learning how to hydrate is the first step in treating and preventing chronic disease.” --Dr. Dana Cohen
Every cell, tissue, and organ in the human body requires water to work optimally. If dehydration is not checked, serious health conditions will occur.
WATERTODAY checked in with NYC’s Dr. Dana Cohen, Integrative Medicine Specialist and co-author of Quench, a best-selling health book.
“Everyone is low-grade dehydrated,” Dr. Cohen told WT.
“There is research suggesting chronic low-grade dehydration puts you at risk for certain cancers (bladder and lower urinary tract and colorectal), heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer's. That’s why I say learning how to hydrate is the first step in treating and preventing chronic disease.”
Before grasping the concept of “how to hydrate” WT discovered there is much to understand about hydration and how it works.
We took a deep dive into the work of Dr. Zach Bush, (triple board-certified, with expertise in Internal Medicine; Endocrinology and Metabolism; and Hospice/Palliative care) to understand “what hydration is”, from his extensive research and practice.
“Hydration is not just simply drinking enough water; it’s about getting water inside your cells.” Dr. Zach Bush
WT learned from Dr. Bush that if we are drinking water and excreting clear urine, water is not getting into the cells. It is simply going from the gut to the blood to the kidneys.
Dr. Bush explains that we are all dehydrated to some extent. The result of that is chronic inflammation and the accumulation of toxins which eventually lead to disease.
“Nothing on earth scrubs like water,” Dr. Bush says about water’s ability to remove toxins from the body.
The kidneys are designed to filter about 55 gallons of blood a day. “The average American is drinking one liter of water a day. That’s almost nothing while the kidneys are cranking out 55 gallons, figuring what to kick out, what to keep, what solutes are important, which are toxins.
“If you’re giving your kidneys no water to work with, it becomes a limitation in the main mechanism of detoxification.”
About two-thirds of the body is composed of water, and up to 70% of that water is within the cells and lymph system. “Hydration is not about water in your bloodstream or the urine; it’s about water inside the cells.”
What Happens Inside the Cell?
Dr. Cohen begins the conversation speaking of balance. “Homeostasis is the steady state we strive for, where there is fluid balance inside and outside the cell. From a physiological point when we are in normal fluid balance, there is no swelling or edema in our tissues, and our cells are functioning optimally.”
Normal fluid balance is achieved when we have optimal electrolytes like sodium and potassium which allow the flow of water in and out of the cell.
Lining the cell membrane are Aquaporin channels – where water moves into and out of the cell-- made of fatty acids.
“We need good healthy fats in our diet to maintain the integrity of the cell membrane and achieve the flow in and out of the cell.”
Inside the cell are the mitochondria sometimes referred to as the powerhouse or currency of the body because of the production of cellular energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
“If you are not getting enough hydrogen and oxygen (water) into the cell,” Dr. Bush adds, “the mitochondria are not able to produce the fuel for every system of the body and for cellular repair and replacement.”
The electrical charge in the cell influences the ability of the cell to extract water from the diet. This is where the quality of our drinking water becomes an issue.
Water in Nature has an enormous number of electrolytes. In municipalities, water is held in reservoirs where there is no natural relationship between the water in the reservoir and the source water in Nature. With each step of the way in water plants, water loses more and more life.
Fresh living water is also affected by contamination.
“Filtration is great for reducing toxins, however, that pulls electrolytes out of the water. Very little of that will interact with the cell membrane. Adding electrolytes to drinking water becomes critical,” Dr. Bush advises.
“Reach for unrefined salts like pink Himalayan salt or sea salt,” Dr. Cohen adds. In our bodies, sodium, along with potassium, generate electrical charges within our cells. If there isn’t enough salt in your system, your internal charge won’t be balanced. This can cause your blood pressure to drop. And in more severe instances, disorientation or even passing out.”
“More specifically,” says Dr. Bush, “it’s about getting living water that is supported by electrolytes and natural fiber passaged into each of your 50 trillion or more human cells. To do that, you need to improve the electrical charges across your cellular membranes and consume water that has been optimized by Nature. Eating a largely plant-based diet and supplementing with minerals is important in achieving that.
“If you are taking a bunch of expensive supplements or doing a detox program with supplements, but don’t have that electrical charge across the cell membrane you will not get the supplements where they need to go, or the detox will not happen.”
Sunlight also helps charge us. “Water, greens, and sunlight make energy in humans – similar to photosynthesis in plants,” Dr. Cohen adds.
“Water is all about movement. Indeed, if it isn’t moving it isn’t living, and neither are we,” Dr. Cohen says. “Without movement, hydration does not get all the way to our fascia and ultimately to our cells.”
Gentle regular anaerobic exercise is recommended.
Proper hydration is knowing how to move water into the cells.
The Top Ways To Stay Hydrated At The Cellular Level
- A good rule of thumb is to drink one ounce of water per kilogram of body weight a day
- Keep healthy fats in your diet: nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, coconut
- Get your electrolytes through the skin – play and bathe in freshwater lakes, rivers, and the ocean
- Get out in Nature and breathe! Alternatively, magnesium float tanks or Epsom salt baths
- Add a pinch of pink Himalayan salt or sea salt to filtered water
- Eat your water – cucumber, celery, watermelon, high fiber fruit
- Short bursts of anaerobic exercise daily
- Drink living water whenever possible
An added bonus to optimal cellular hydration... According to Dr. Bush, “If we could stay perfectly hydrated in the intracellular environment, our aging would slow down, if not reverse.”
We’ll raise a glass to that. To your health!