Water and salt are two of the least expensive and most abundant substances on Earth; at the same time, they are also two of the most valuable. Aside from clean air to breathe, proper hydration is one of the most important needs of the human body.
But what is “proper hydration?” Believe it or not, true hydration requires more than just water. In fact, water is only half of the hydration equation. Without salt and other electrolytes like potassium and magnesium, you can actually deplete yourself by drinking too much water.
How is this possible? It has to do with how cells absorb water. The inside of the cell is where water needs to be to sustain the life of the organism. Electrolytes help shuttle water across a cell’s water-repelling membrane to the inside of the cell. True hydration is not determined by how much water is inside of your body but how much of that water is inside of the cells.
So, how can you properly hydrate your body and even assess how much water is inside of your cells?
• Consume up to half of your body weight in ounces of water per day.
• Add a pinch of salt for every 8 oz. of water consumed (up to 2 tsp./day).
• Athletes might consider higher salt intake or electrolyte supplementation.
• Avoid electrolyte drinks that contain sugar, caffeine and artificial colors.
• Determine, track and measure cellular hydration levels with the help of a healthcare professional. (My colleagues at Statera Health are well-versed in this area if you need a starting point!)
Contributed by Timothy Borowski, M.S., a natural healthcare professional specializing in neurological function, injury rehabilitation and complex pain management. His complementary healthcare practice, Axon Movement, is located at Statera Health in Edina. You can find him on Instagram @timothy_borowski.