Updated: Jul 14, 2022
May 20, 2021
Dr. Meg Mill
Did you know water makes up 50%-70% of your body composition? The human body is roughly 2/3 water, and the brain is closer to 75%. It is no wonder that adequate hydration is so crucial to our health.
As summer arrives, it is more important than ever to stay on top of your water intake. Proper hydration is ALWAYS necessary, but even more so when the weather heats up and we start sweating more often.
Drinking water is the easiest natural thing you can do at any moment to really get at the root cause of many imbalances in the body, especially headaches.
Why do I need to drink water?
The average adult human loses 2.5 to 3 liters of water every day by sweating, breathing, and urinating. Water conducts electricity. Our brain and cardiovascular activity require an electrical circuit based on a stable electrolyte concentration. Water is also necessary for toxins to be excreted in our urine/stool. Otherwise, we suffer from toxic build-up, leading to cellular dysfunction and chronic disease. Hydration also helps with headaches, brain function, energy, exercise recovery, and kidney stone prevention just to name a few things.
Here is the science behind it:
The purpose of hydration is to hydrate at the cellular level. It is better to sip water throughout the day to keep up cellular hydration than chug it at one sitting to keep a balance in hydration throughout the day.
Cellular hydration requires adequate electrolytes because of its osmotic balance. It's the electrolyte (magnesium and potassium and sodium) levels inside and outside the cell that naturally draw minerals in and out of the cell, bringing water along with it. Therefore, it is equally important to get enough electrolytes into the body. If you do not have enough electrolytes, then the water you are drinking is probably just going to end up in the toilet.
Even small changes in electrolyte balance and dehydration can have consequential impacts on the brain.
How much water should you drink?
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that an adequate daily fluid intake as: approximately 3.7 liters of fluids a day for men and 2.7 liters of fluids a day for women.
As a rule, we often say to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, drink 70 ounces of water per day. Drink more if you often sweat or are doing intense exercise.
Keep in mind that caffeine can play a role in hydration as it can be dehydrating. Do not count caffeinated beverages toward your intake level.
How do I know if I have gotten enough water?
We want our urine to be a light-yellow color. If your urine is a dark color, you may not be getting enough water. You may actually be overhydrating or under absorbing by not getting enough electrolytes if it is clear.
What if I don't like water?
If you're not a fan of water, add lemon, cucumbers, and berries, and you'll notice that drinking water becomes more enjoyable. Seltzer water is another option many people enjoy.
Can I drink too much water?
Drinking too much water is generally not a problem for healthy adults. This is mainly a concern with athletes when preventing dehydration during prolonged or intense exercise. When you drink too much water, the kidneys can't get rid of the excess water. Therefore, the sodium content of your blood becomes diluted. This is called hyponatremia, and it can be life-threatening. That is another reason why keeping electrolytes up is essential, along with adequate water intake.
Clean up your water:
• Water can contain many toxins (from well or municipal sources); therefore, consumption of unfiltered water can contribute to the overall toxic load of your body. Have your well water tested for a variety of metals. Municipal water is often chlorinated and fluoridated and contains notable levels of dissolved chemicals and pharmaceutical drug residues. Removing chemicals such as fluoride and chlorine from your water is an important step in reducing toxic exposure. Consider getting a water filter that has reverse osmosis filtration.
• Water quality varies from town to town. Still, in general, it is better to filter tap water with a multi-stage gravity or reverse osmosis filter. You can do this at a respective source (e.g., sink) or the whole house.
• Avoid regularly using bottled water in soft plastic containers for environmental waste and the risk of leached chemical and microplastic contamination. It is best not to drink water from plastic water bottles that have been in a hot car.
• Choose glass, ceramic, or stainless-steel water bottles for carrying home water with you.
• You can also filter shower water to limit your exposure to chlorinated hydrocarbons. We can both inhale and absorb toxins more readily during a hot shower.
· Sip your water throughout the day. It is best to avoid drinking a large amount of water during meals. This can dilute stomach acid, reduce the digestion of the meal, and potentially create gastrointestinal distress.
· Drink a big glass of water first thing in the morning. We fast overnight, so many of us wake up dehydrated. If you love your morning cup of coffee or tea, which is dehydrating. It is especially important to keep your hydration up.
· Add Lemon to your water. Most people could benefit from the alkalizing electrolytes we will absorb from the lemon. The average American diet is metabolically acidic. We can struggle to get adequate electrolytes from our drinking water because it has been municipally treated. Lemon water can aid digestion, detoxification and help prevent kidney stones. It is also a good source of vitamin C and has many other health benefits. Special note with the lemon water: Don't brush your teeth immediately before or after drinking lemon water, as it may temporarily soften tooth enamel.
If you like data here are some Hydration Studies:
· The study Mild Dehydration Affects Mood in Healthy Young Women from the Journal of Nutrition showed just 1.36% dehydration consistently caused a headache, lowered concentration, and degraded mood in healthy young women.
· The study Water-Deprivation Headache: A New Headache With Two Variants found that 2/3 of people suffering from a tension-type headache due to water deprivation received lasting relief within 30 min. after drinking 2 cups of water; nearly all others within three hours. Also, water deprivation may play a role in migraine, particularly in prolonging headache attacks.
· Increasing the daily water intake for the prophylactic treatment of headache: A Pilot Trial in the European Journal of Neurology found that one extra liter of water daily reduced headache frequency and intensity dramatically in those classified as "chronic headache patients."