Approximately 75 million Americans are dehydrated and most don’t even realize it. Aside from thirst, symptoms of dehydration include headache, weakness, dizziness, fatigue, lethargy with symptoms scaling up to more serious warning signs of dry mouth, skin or eyes, little or no urine output, sluggishness, rapid heartbeat, fever and loss of skin elasticity. The body is approximately 70% water (even the bones are 30% made up of water) so it makes perfect sense to keep the body optimally hydrated for not just health but youth.
Dehydration causes our emotions to become unbalanced, our kidneys’ health and function suffers and our elimination becomes compromised when we are dehyrated. Research reveals compelling information about our requirements for drinking water especially as we age and the influence of hydration on a wide range of body systems including bones. Lack of water is a contributor to brittle bones making many more senior adults more susceptible to dangerous bone fractures.
[The information in this article should not be viewed as medical advice as we are not medical professionals. We are shareing information and recommendations from and based on scientific publications and studies that are enumerated in the article’s endnotes. As always, when beginning any new program dedicated to health and which is new for you, first consult your physician.]
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) tells us that in the fifth and last of the five fifteen-year phases of life, after 60 years of age, we begin to experience a tendency to stiffen and to dehydrate causing loss of skin tone. There is also a loss of collagen with yang energy at its lowest point. For these and other reasons, proper absorbable hydration is critical. (For more info. on the Five Element Theory of Chinese Medicine and how it applies to you, please visit our sister site at phyto5.us.)
But for older adults, it isn’t always as simple as merely drinking water. Many experience a decrease in receptor sensitivity (osmo- and barareceptors) which detect the fluid within and around cells. This causes them to not feel thirsty when, in fact, their bodies are definitely requiring more water. For this vitally important reason, it’s more important than ever for older adults to drink several glasses of water daily even if not thirsty. In fact, adding lots of fresh high water content fruits and vegetables can provide additional very absorbable hydration.
Our skin and body tissues require enormous amounts of water. The brain requires the greatest amount to function because water facilitates the electrical functions that basically command the entire body. The largest portion of water supplied throughout the body comes from what we drink, and the rest from food and leftover cellular metabolism. We lose 80% of our fluids through our urine and 20% through perspiration through the skin or respiratory system.
Water runs through our veins, arteries, glands and organs in order to feed, pump, and transport fluid. It’s important to note that even gentle workouts or walking for exercise actually help disperse water through the body. When you move your connective tissue through exercise, it facilitates the movement of water throughout the body.
Water also regulates body temperature which explains why dehydrated elderly cannot tolerate hot temperatures and often perish.
“We may not get enough water into our cells, where it’s crucial for metabolism and countless other functions,” says Dana Cohen, MD, author of Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Optimum Hydration.
Consuming processed foods and even our heated homes can interfere with our body’s water absorption, but groundbreaking research from Harvard and Cornell Universities has found that the water in our cells and in plant cells is not H2O but H3O2 — a gel-like structured water charged by electrolytes acting as fuel “for every action of every cell,” notes Gerald Pollack, PhD,* head of the University of Washington’s Pollack Water Lab. Colloquially called “gel water,” it comes from sources like fruits, vegetables, cacti, chia seeds, and collagen. What these findings about water and hydration indicate is that we must take a much closer look at our diets and not just water intake. Certain studies have indicated that liquid water alone is not sufficient for hydration — as demonstrated in cases where subjects couldn’t achieve hydration despite actually over-drinking water.
Dr. Pollack believes “gel water” primes our cells for optimal function – that it’s actually more hydrating than simple liquid water. This living water is a newly identified phase of water that’s not quite liquid, vapor, or ice, identified by an extra hydrogen and oxygen atom.
“Weight loss becomes easier than we ever thought possible. We also think better, move better, sleep better, age better,” says Cohen. Increasing gel water in the body “is one of the best things you can do for your body. I’ve seen amazing results in hundreds of patients.”
European research shows that consuming plants rich in "gel water" (most fruits and vegetables) is up to twice as hydrating as drinking water because it passes more readily into our cells, is denser and is less likely to leak out of damaged or aging cells.
Tips for Consuming “Gel Water”
• The way to consume “gel water” is simple. Just keep drinking plain water that has been further improved with a slice of citrus, for example.
• Another way is to sip water while consuming foods rich in potassium like bananas and broccoli or rich in magnesium like avocado and dark chocolate.
• You can add a pinch of Himalayan salt to your water to add electrolytes which will transform your regular water into “gel water.”
• Consume six servings of gel-water-rich foods daily and for every dehydrating grain-based food you eat, add an extra portion.
• Always avoid processed foods because they siphon off fluid during digestion.
• Eat plant-based healthy fats. “Water enters cells through an oil-guarded membrane,” author Cohen says. “Good fats, especially omega-3s, keep membranes supple, increasing absorption.
• Add a teaspoon of crushed chia seeds to your smoothies. When the blender crushes the seeds more gel is created.
• Cook with bone broth. It’s full of collagen and gel water.
• Cook with coconut oil or ghee both of which are full of gel water and electrolytes
• If you have access to an infrared sauna, know that the light waves in the red wave spectrum range will reach the water molecules in your body and split them into positive and negative charges, thus shifting their molecular structure and creating “gel water.”
• The sun also does exactly the same as the infrared sauna mentioned above. Modest exposure to the sun is nature’s way of purifying and charging water. • In theory, the subtle electrical charge of the planet could help split the water molecules around us and inside us as well, so earthing discussed in Look and Feel Younger Longer Tip #3: Get and Stay Grounded just may be another way to increase hydration.
*Jerry Pollack (Department of Bioengineering, University of Washington) is a scientist recognized worldwide as a dynamic speaker and author, whose passion lies in plumbing the depths of natural truths. The Pollack Lab is best known for our work with water, but its interests are diverse–including energy, health, and fundamental physics. Pollack discovered and published the first research on “gel water" in 2009. He received the 1st Emoto Peace Prize and is a recipient of the University of Washington's highest honor, the Annual Faculty Lecturer Award. He is founding Editor-in-Chief of the research journal WATER and Director of the Institute for Venture Science. Dr. Pollack's (award-winning) books include: The Fourth Phase of Water (2013), and Cells, Gels, and the Engines of Life (2001).
“You've Been Doing It Wrong: Why You're Still Dehydrated.” Goop, 17 Jan. 2019, goop.com/wellness/health/structured-water-youve-been-doing-it-wrong-why-youre-still-dehydrated/.
Alnuweiri, Tamim. “What Is Gel Water?” Well+Good, Well+Good, 1 July 2017, www.wellandgood.com/good-advice/what-is-gel-structured-water/.
Staff, Editorial. “Simple 'Gel-Water Diet' Is the Weight-Loss Solution That Improves Sleep and Fights Brain Fog.” Woman's World, Woman's World, 2 Aug. 2019, www.womansworld.com/posts/h3o2-gel-water-diet-168246.
“Consequences of Dehydration.” European Hydration Institute, www.europeanhydrationinstitute.org/consequences_of_dehydration/.
Popkin, Barry M, et al. “Water, Hydration, and Health.” Nutrition Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/.