By Joan Ebsworth, guest writer for sense* and mother of sense* Founder, Jonathan explains the importance of hydration and the role of minerals and electrolytes.
What’s the connection between Hydration, Minerals and Electrolytes
We are made up of water – well at least 50 to 70 % of our body is water depending on age and gender. So I’ve looked into how important hydration is and the connection to minerals and electrolytes.
What’s normally the case
We tend to lose water as we get older. But this is due to increased body fat generally.
Also men have a greater percentage of water than women for the same reason. Fat contains very little water.
The same percentages apply to the planet Earth coincidently but sadly only 0.5% of it is fresh and available to us.
Quality and quantity of water for hydration
Consequently one would think that if authorities know the importance of hydration and it’s scarcity, then they would protect the both the quantity and quality of the water that we drink.
To me, access to clean water should be a human right. But in many parts of the world clean drinking water is still scarce.
When I was a child water was “free”. No water bills!
That is not happening today and the water that comes out of our taps is not always good to drink. Yet we pay heavily for it.
Water leakage takes away from hydration
It is also not looked after quantity wise either. The UK water companies admitting huge numbers of leaks and overspill totalling c 3 billion litres per day.
Quality of water in UK
It is also the case that many of the chemicals in our drinking water are actually doing us long term damage.
Why is water so important?
We have to remember that we are electrical beings and that there are electrical charges across every living cell in the body.
Every single human cell requires water to enable all of the chemical reactions to take place relating to it. The importance of hydration is therefore key.
In a way water is the most important “nutrient”! Without it nothing happens and we die!
Food v water deficiency
We can go without food for quite a long time but not water. Again highlighting the importnce of hydration.
Generally we can only go without water for 3 days but there are lots of variable factors:
- activity levels
- overall health
- bodily factors, such as height and weight
- foods we eat eg juicy fruits v dry granis, bread
- environmental factors
What are Electrolytes?
The minerals that we eat dissolve in water and they become electrically charged and are then known as electrolytes. This is how they enter the cells.
Electrolytes are essential for keeping your nervous system and muscles functioning. And the importance of hydration cannot be over stated.
They also ensure that your body’s internal environment is optimal by keeping you hydrated and helping regulate your internal pH.
Electrolyte imbalances can cause many symptoms depending on which electrolytes (minerals) are out of balance.
he importance of hydration can not be underestimated to all of these processes.
My own hydration regime
I am very aware of hydrating myself. Old people are very bad about doing it –generally.
My elderly mother used to drink 3 cups (not mugs) of tea a day and eat bread and butter for most of the day and not much else.
She lived until she was 95 but really had no quality of life – she was alive yes – but that is not enough for me.
So as soon as I get up in the morning I drink.
I am not a fan of plain water so when I drink I always add a couple of slices of lemon at the very least.
How much should you drink to stay hydrated
Experts tell you to measure your weight in pounds, divide by 2 and drink that number in fluid ounces.
I weigh 110 pounds so 55 fluid ounces of liquid a day being almost 3 pints.
Starting the day
We lose quite a lot of water via sweat during the night.
I drink herbal teas throughout the day. So in winter I drink two large mugs of tea with a tablespoonful of Apple Cider Vinegar in each. That equates to 1 pint by 7am.
In the summer it is filtered water with the juice of a whole lemon squeezed into it.
I add the ACV or lemon juice because I am almost certain that my stomach acid will be low at my age and I need that acid to aid my digestion and absorption of my food..
Vitamin B12 will not be absorbed if stomach acid is low and B12 is so important for cognition and many other things.
Round 2 – my smoothie
At about 9am I make my smoothie – winter and summer. It is my most nutrient dense meal of the day.
I make 2 pints of smoothie. Here is my recipe for what goes into it but it depends on seasonal fruits and it tastes good.
The base is always a pint of filtered water. I use a Big Berkey system to filter my water.
I knock back the first pint of smoothie by 9.30 and I spread the next one over the next hour. Catching up with admin or writing my gratitudes for the day.
So by 10.30 I have drunk 3 pints of fluid and there is lots of water in that.
Rest of the day
I do drink more during the day too usually in the form of herbal tea. So I feel that I am well hydrated, well I hope so.
You can count caffeinated tea or coffee in your level of water provided you don’t go beyond 400mg of caffeine otherwise they become diuretic.
And alcohol is always diuretic so drink one glass of water with every glass of alcohol.
Dehydration can have many symptoms:
- Constipation and other digestive issues
- Low Blood Pressure
- Muscle spasms
- Problems sleeping
- Brain fog
- Heart palpitations
All potentially caused by essential electrolytes not getting into our cells.
Fluid balance is so important too.
If we drink too much then the body regulates it via the kidneys – you pee a lot.
When you pee a lot then you are also detoxing so a good thing if a little inconvenient at times.
Which minerals/electrolytes are important to hydration?
I shall only deal with a few electrolytes to make a point about them and hydration:
Found in broths (vegetable and bone), tomatoes, tomato juices, soups, dill pickles, olives, pickled cucumber, natural salts (not iodised table salt)
Needed for – sodium is necessary for the body to maintain fluid balance and is critical for normal body function. It also hlps to regulate nerve function and muscle contraction.
Found in – tomato juices, sauces, and soups, lettuce, olives, meat, celery, natural salts
Needed for – chloride is necessary for maintaining the proper balance of bodily fluids.
Found in – bok choy, kale, avocado, brussels sprouts, navy beans, lentil, apricot, prune, zucchini, winter squash, artichokes, swiss chard, bananas
Needed for – potassium is particularly important for regulating heart function. It also helps maintain healthy nerves and muscles
Found in – collard greens, spinach, kale, sardines, yogurt, sesame seeds, almonds, chia seeds, okra, broccoli, navy beans, figs, salmon, sweet potatoes
Needed for – calcium is a vital mineral that your body uses to stabilize blood pressure and control skeletal muscle contraction. It’s also used to build strong bones and teeth.
This is not a medical article really a biological one.
So what can bring about dehydration?
Well it is obvious that you are getting rid of more fluid than you are taking in. Here are some main causes but the obvious one is not drinking enough fluid.
1 Sleeping for 8 hours –you can sweat a lot
7 Even tears
8 Exercise –particularly when you sweat a lot.
9 Diet –processed industrial foods with a lot of salt.
10 Exhaling with every breath you get rid of moisture
11 A hot climate
13 Certain medications
Early symptoms and signs of dehydration include:
- Dark (rather than pale straw-coloured) urine.
- Not passing water often.
- Poor concentration.
- Feeling tired, dizzy or light-headed.
Getting checked if hydration an issue
The reality is that if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above and are having enough fluid then you should get them checked out.
There are blood and urine tests that can assess your electrolyte levels.
It might just be dehydration (you may need more fluid than others because the range is quite wide) but there can be other underlying causes that need to be checked out too.
Word of warning on hydration
Recently a friend of mine collapsed in a supermarket It was a very hot day.
She was taken to a local clinic and an hour later after a saline drip, she was fine and she learned a very important lesson.
So just drink more fluids – particularly water. The importance of hydration cannot be overstated.
After writing this I have now vowed to drink more filtered water every day.
I hope that you have found this interesting and it does as intended, raises awareness.
Good luck with your health.
This is not a sense* article. The views expressed in this article are those of the author so there may be opinions or statements in this article that are not approved by sense* and do not represent the views and opinions of the company.