water story

Add a Little Salt!

Could the water you drink be dehydrating you?

By Katie Dillon – Empowered Nutrition.
3 minute read.

Water is the most important nutrient in the body. It’s also the most common nutrient deficiency in the western world. You can go about 8 weeks without food, but only days without water. Do you make sure you get enough water? It’s such a simple one, but so often overlooked. Coffee doesn’t count. It’s actually dehydrating.

Water makes up 55-60% of our total body mass. In the average adult that equates to about 38-50 litres of water! It’s involved in pretty well every function of the body, so it’s easy to see why things can go wrong easily just from not having enough water.

Water cannot be stored. It must be consumed regularly as we’re constantly losing it. Most of our water is lost through our kidneys (urine), but we also lose a lot through sweating – which we do constantly, even if we’re not very active. We also lose some through exhalation.

As little as a 2% drop in the body’s water content will cause fatigue. So when you get that slump in the afternoon, before you reach for a coffee, think about whether you’ve had enough water, and reach for a glass instead.

Source: Nutritional Therapy Association, Inc

Significant health problems can arise from a drop of 10% in the body’s water content, such as:

  • Digestive
  • Cardiovascular
  • Immune
  • Musculosketal

Losses greater than 10% can cause death.

Water depends on electrolytes for proper absorption. Electrolytes are minerals that become capable of conducting electricity when dissolved in water. If we don’t have adequate amounts of these minerals in our water, the water can attract minerals to it from your body’s cells, actually causing dehydration. So ensuring your water has electrolytes is very important. One of the simplest ways to do this is to add a little pinch of good quality salt – Himalayan pink salt, or celtic sea salt – to your water. Do it to taste as the amount will be different for different people. The water shouldn’t taste salty if you get the right amount, but should actually be more pleasant to drink. You could describe it as seeming “soft”.

Sipping water throughout the day is important. By the time you get the signal that you’re thirsty, you’re already quite dehydrated. Sipping, rather than gulping, will also allow your body to make better use of your water, rather than it being washed straight down the toilet. Think about a garden that hasn’t been watered for a long time. If you go in with the hose and soak it, you’ll find most of the water just runs off, rather than soaking in. The same will happen with our cells. If your water consumption has not been adequate, do not jump in and start drinking large amounts of water. Gradually increase the amount you drink over many days.

To work out how much water you should be drinking, a good calculation is to take your weight in kg and divide that by 30. This will give you a good guide to the number of litres you should be drinking per day. It will vary person to person depending on your activity level – i.e. if you do a lot of exercise, or you’re breastfeeding you will need to drink more. If are drinking diuretics (alcohol, caffeine, soft drinks, some herbal teas) you will need to drink more to offset the diuretic effect.

Are you drinking enough?