Hydration and the Human Body
By Brad Stapley, PharmD
Let’s play a game…
1. How much water do you drink daily?
2. How many days can you go without water?
3. What is the percentage of hydration that your cells
need to function?
4. Does water help your body eliminate toxins?
5. What counts as “water”?
If you know the answer to any one of these questions, you are one of few. Most people don’t understand the importance of hydration in the human body.
You are probably wondering why a pharmacist cares about your hydration levels, but one of the things we see at our pharmacy locations is the chronic dehydration and side effects of toxic build up in the human system.
Let’s answer the questions posed in the beginning of the article:
1. How much water do you drink daily? Although you will read varying advice on the internet, one thing that does not change is the amount of water necessary. To calculate the absolute bottom line, take your weight and divide it in half. Now, turn that number into ounces and viola, you have your amount.
Example: A 150 lb. woman would need 75 ounces of water per day. (150/2=75 ounces). Another example: a 200 lb. man would need 100 ounces of water per day. (200/2=100 ounces).
A suggestion I often give is to drink a glass of water before you get out of bed and another before breakfast. This gets 16-24 ounces in your system to kick your day into high gear. In addition, we can’t count on our body to tell us we are thirsty so put a plan into place so that you have a reminder to drink during the day.
2. How many days can you go without water? Under general circumstances, one can live without food for many days, but only live three to five days without water. Depriving the body of fluids can cause the cells and organs in the body to begin the deterioration process. Hydration can mean the difference between life and death because every single cell in the body must be hydrated to function at optimum levels. Water keeps oxygen and nutrients moving.
3. What is the percentage of hydration that your cells need to function? The answer to this question varies slightly, but in the most general terms, brain cells thrive at 85% hydration and muscles, organs and tissue do best in the 75% range. The difference of a few percentage points can mean the difference between feeling great and feeling lousy.
4. Does water help your body eliminate toxins? The unequivocal answer is an adamant YES! Without proper hydration impurities will sit in the bladder or kidneys and create the potential of infections, as well as toxic build up which effectively poison the body.
5. What counts as “water” – The general rule of thumb is as follows:
• Must not include caffeine
• Must not include alcohol
• Must not include sugar or artificial sugars
• Must not include carbonation
• May include natural infusion such as strawberry, lemon, or other fruit
One final thing to remember; we live in the desert and our environment lends itself to low humidity in our homes and offices. A good humidifier can do wonders for your breathing and skin.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask your pharmacist and remember, your pharmacist is your most accessible medical provider.