Hydration is critical to good health and supports a huge number of bodily functions. However, hydration is more complex than simply drinking water. In addition to H2O our bodies require the right balance of electrolytes to adequately absorb and utilise fluid in our cells. Therefore the kind of water we drink is of utmost importance.

To adequately hydrate our bodies on a cellular level, water should contain a range of minerals, which aid in the hydration of our cells. Distilled water, while beneficial for some people because it may contain fewer heavy metals and toxins, also lacks most other minerals. If we consume water that lacks minerals, which are the basis for important electrolytes then it is easy to actually become dehydrated from drinking.

Soft and hard water

According to Staying Healthy with Nutrition, “soft” water is water that has had most of its minerals removed and tends to be higher in sodium. Distillation is a way of extracting minerals from water and therefore distilled water can be classified as “soft” water. Hard water on the other hand usually contains more minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium, but can also contain trace amounts of other minerals that have a deleterious impact on human health. It is for this reason that some people select distilled water, because it is seen as a “cleaner” or “safer.”

Distilled water

Distilled water is water that has had minerals removed from it by a process of distillation. This usually involves boiling water, which evaporates is and then condensed. As a result of this process distilled water is devoid of most minerals, which can have both positive and negative impacts on the body. The mineral balance shifts to being much lower in calcium and magnesium, but higher in sodium.

Distilled water can be used for detoxification because it can actively absorb toxic substances from the body and help us eliminate them. The water pulls minerals from the body, which can be helpful in the detoxification of heavy metals.

However, as mentioned distilled water is stripped of both good and bad minerals. So while it is helpful for removing toxic substances from the body, consumption of mineral deficient water does create a need to replenish the essential minerals and electrolytes lost through the distillation process.

Heard of electrolytes?

Those magical substances that we are told to consume when we play sport, have gastro or sweat excessively. Do you know what they actually are? It’s very simple and you don’t need to be wasting money and consuming the excessive sugar in drinks like Gatorade!

Electrolytes

Electrolytes are chemicals in the body that perform a range of important functions including facilitating hydration of the cells. Electrolytes are inorganic compounds that break apart into ions when dissolved in water and are the main contributors to the osmotic movement of water and our kidneys play key role in regulating electrolyte level by excreting or retaining salts. Electrolytes carry a small electrical charge that facilitates both cellular and electrical function in the body. Important electrolytes include sodium, potassium, and chloride.

Potassium and sodium create a corridor that facilitates the exchange of fluid in and out of the cell. This exchange generates an electrical potential that enables muscle contractions and heartbeat. Un-distilled water should contain a range of different mineral, including these important electrolytes, which facilitates proper hydration at a cellular level.

As distilled water is also stripped of its healthful minerals, it can actually have a dehydrating effect for some people. Hydration is a two-fold process involving both consumption of water, and incorporation of fluid into the cells. For water to be able to enter the cells we require adequate levels of sodium in particular. The key regulator of fluid in the cells is the sodium-potassium pump. Sodium facilitates fluid entering the cells and then potassium allows it to exit again. Without these electrolytes fluid will remain in the extracellular area.

Distilled water can be dehydrating

If one consumes only distilled water that does not contain adequate minerals to aid in the absorption of fluid in the cells, then this water can actually have a dehydrating effect. The more that one drinks, the more urine is produced and in the excretion of urine some electrolytes are lost. Therefore the problem becomes two-fold: the cells absorb less fluid and salts are lost in the urine.

Solutions

While distilled water can play a helpful role in detoxification, we must bare in mind that both good and bad minerals are removed. Due to this dehydrating nature, distilled water is not a good choice for everyone. If distilled water is preferred then it is important that good minerals are replaced. Adding a sprinkle good quality salt to water can be helpful for increasing its hydrating ability as can electrolyte powders.

Final words on distilled water and hydration

Adequate hydration is so important to good health for a plethora of reasons. Sufficient fluids in the body helps to transport hormones and messengers, deliver oxygen to your cells, cushion your joints and bones and even regulate the electrical current of the body. For more help finding the right way to hydrate yourself please get in touch with me.

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