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How Much Water Do We Actually Need?

February 6, 2017

The most important nutrient in our bodies is water.  "The quality of your tissues, their performance, and their resistance to injury, is absolutely dependent on the quality and

quantity of the water you drink" states Dr. Michael Colgan in Optimum Sports Nutrition (c) 1993.  Many of us do not realize just how much water we need to drink in order to stay healthy.  Dr. Colgan goes on to say that even light exercise in a temperate climate (the green area in the map) uses about 2 liters of water per day in breath, sweat, and urine.  

Notice the phrase temperate - Hong Kong is in the "subtropic climate" and therefore, our drinking needs will be greater.  Hong Kong is much If you're an athlete, your needs are much greater.  "A 75kg athlete is about 47 Liters water and in heavy training will need to replace all of it every six days."  Dehydrate a muscle by only 3% (about 1.5 - 2kg for a 75kg male) and you cause about a 10% loss of contractile strength and an 8% loss of speed.

 

Making Sure You Get Enough Clean Water

 

First thing is you need to drink - get a water bottle and bring it with you everywhere.  Dr. Colgan warns that we cannot just drink any type of water, the quality of the water is very important to ensure that we are optimizing our bodies.  Many tap and spring waters are contaminated - there are around 60,000 chemical contaminants of water.  Part of the reason is cost: it's just too expensive for governments to clean our water to it's purest form since most of the water from the faucet is used in the bathroom, laundry, and kitchen.  The current processes leave the "toxic metals, pesticides, industrial chemicals in our tap water, including the 50 or so chemicals used in the water treatment."  Although tap water will not necessarily kill you, there's also "no way your body can function properly on poisons."

Does this mean we should only drink bottled water?  There is still room for contaminants in some bottled waters.  Be very careful of labeling: "brands labelled "spring water" legally have to be from a spring, unless the words are a brand name, or part of a brand name."  And although regulated, the regulators do not require tests for some of the minerals and other contaminants.  The solution: drink distilled water.  This will guarantee that the water is free from all contamination.  In response to distilled water, you might ask, "don't we need the minerals from our water?"  Your minerals by and large come from your diet, not your water.  And anyone who believes that distilled water will leach minerals from your body as you drink it have no understanding of basic biochemistry.

 

It's not only what you drink, but the water you eat!  Don't fall victim to the "I cooked it, so it's clean" myth.  Cooking doesn't remove heavy metals that can wreck your body.  Bacteria and viruses will be removed from boiling, however, the heavy metals (e.g. lead) can still be left in your food!

 

Using bottled water is very expensive, so the best option is to get a home purification system that will either distill the water or at the very least, a four-step reverse osmosis system.  Home distillers such as the WaterWise and iSpring are easy to find online.  A relatively newer method of water purification uses UV light to kill even the smallest of viruses and bacteria.  If you choose this option, keep in mind that you will need to select a purification system that also has a filter, since UV doesn't actually remove any of the minerals.  The eSpring is an excellent choice and one we have personally used.

 

Make sure you consume enough water per day - minimum of 2 liters and adjust upward if you are living in warmer climates.  And, make sure that your water is as clean as you can make it.

 

Happy hydrating!

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