After oxygen, water is your highest priority for attaining optimum health. Why? It’s quite simple-your body is over 70% water. Your brain is over 85% water. So it makes sense that you can’t drink too much water-pure water. Staying hydrated is absolutely crucial for optimum brain function and optimum health. It is vital for slowing aging. I often say we age from the brain down.Your brain-the highest maintenance organ in your body and the one which controls all of your physiological functions-is the most devastated by dehydration. In fact, the number one cause of memory loss, at any age, is dehydration. Whenever you have a “senior moment”, that is your brain telling you that your water stores are low-you need to immediately chug a glass of pure water.
Adequate hydration is not only essential for optimum brain function, it also:
- Maintains your body temperature
- Aids in digestion
- Metabolizes fat
- Lubricates and cushions your organs
- Transports nutrients throughout your body
- Flushes toxic waste from your body
- Keeps you looking and feeling young
How much water do you need and when?
The general rule of thumb is: Drink at least 8 to 10 eight ounce glasses of pure water every day. A more sophisticated formula is: Your body weight (in pounds) divided by 2. This is the minimum amount of pure water in ounces you should consume every day.
Thirst is not a good indicator of your hydration level. By the time you experience thirst you are already dehydrated. Lance Armstrong-cancer survivor and winner of the 1999 Tour De France in the fastest average speed in the 86-year history of the race-puts the effect of dehydration in perspective: “Even being 1% dehydrated is absolutely devastating to performance.” By the time you experience thirst you are already 2% dehydrated. When you have reached this point, your energy levels have already diminished by 20-30%.
Thirst is not a good indicator of hydration. As the great physician Bernie Siegel says, “Your body doesn’t lie.” The only reliable barometer hydration is the color of your urine. When you are sufficiently hydrated your urine is clear. The darker your urine is, the more toxic your body and your brain are. The only exception to this general rule is supplementation. If you take vitamin and mineral supplements, your urine will be darker. But as you continue to drink pure water, the color of your urine will work its way back to clear. Despite supplementation, your urine should hit close to clear once each day. When exercising you are at greater risk of dehydration, so ensure you increase your pure water intake to replace lost fluids.
Steer clear of dehydrators!
Just because it’s wet, doesn’t mean it will hydrate you. You need to steer clear of all dehydrators: including anything caffeinated-alcohol of any kind, fruit juice (because it’s pure sugar), sodas of any kind, and your typical commercial sports drinks. These fluids do not count towards your pure water consumption. Instead, they add excess calories to your diet (usually in the form or sugar) and make you fat. I recommend you eliminate all dehydrators and stick to pure water only.
Decaffeinated herbal teas and decaffeinated coffee do count towards your daily water intake, but are inferior sources, and should not comprise the minority of your daily water intake.
What is considered pure?
Distilled water, with about 1-14 parts per million contaminants, is rated by the National Science Foundation as the purest source of water. This is the same water you put in your iron and your car battery! It’s funny that distilled water has been around forever and is the cheapest, yet most of you do not drink it. In fact, distilled water is all anti-aging specialist Dr Michael Colgan (of the Colgan Institute) will drink. I have trained many athletes that drink one to two gallons of distilled water every day.
I am commonly asked about the mineral content of distilled water. It is a commonly held belief that distilled water leeches minerals from your bones and teeth because of osmotic pressure. This is a myth made up by smart marketers of spring and mineral water to increase sales! Any basic college text will reassure you that the human system does not work that way. If it did, your cells would be at the mercy of all the varying osmotic gradients created in your gut by every meal you eat. Remember too that the purpose of drinking water is hydration, not to supply minerals. You obtain minerals from food and supplementation. Distilled water is absolutely pure and clean and is the best source of water you can put into your body.
Next best is filtered water-reverse osmosis filtered being the best. Third best is bottled water. With distilled water you know exactly what you are getting. But with bottled water there are question marks as to content. Some bottled water is quite pure. Others are simply purified tap water.
Finally, if you have nothing else available, tap water is better than no water. But you do not want to make tap water your primary source of water, ever. Why? All tap water contains chlorine, which is added to kill bacteria and other living organisms, but is also toxic to humans. Tap water also contains herbicides, pesticides, and other chemicals that you want to avoid putting in your body at all costs. Dr Colgan tested San Diego tap water in 1994 and it showed 595 parts per million contaminants. And that’s about average for most United States city water supplies. Water treatment authorities treat water to minimum standards. More than 60,000 different chemicals contaminate our water supply, and most treatment authorities only test for about 30-40 contaminants, and remove about half of them, with the remaining 59,980 chemicals left in the water.
Drinking enough pure water is absolutely essential to maintaining optimum health, and has significant impact on the length and quality of your life. So make it your number one focus, and enjoy the results.