Updated 10/8/23; Originally Posted 9/18/22
When you hear the word “hydration”, what first comes to mind: water or minerals/electrolytes? For many people, water comes first and in their mind being healthy involves drinking half their body weight in water every day (and more when they exercise or it is hot). For others, they find themselves barely drinking anything besides their morning coffee. If your mind went to minerals first, which minerals do you think are the most important? How high up on the list are sodium and potassium? They should be near the top!
To fully hydrate your body and cells, you need three ingredients:
- The Right Kind of Water
- Your 4 Basic Minerals or Electrolytes
- The Magic of the Sodium-Potassium Pump
- Calcium Channels and Magnesium
- Do You Have Enough Minerals in Your Diet?
- Tissue Movement – Whole Body Exercise!
The Right Kind of Water
I wrote an entire post on water because it is so important for life. Your water needs to be clean and free of toxins but there’s more to it than that. Your cells require the “thick” form of water called EZ water. Luckily there are several ways to ensure your drinking water is in the proper form (go ahead and read my water post for the details).
When you drink plain water, it moves quickly from your stomach, into your small intestine, and into your blood stream. Your kidneys are in charge of filtering your blood to maintain the proper balance of all the important components. If the water is not usable to the rest of the body, your kidneys will filter out the unused water and you will find your self ready to pee a half hour after that big glass of water.
What makes your drinking water available and desired by your cells? Minerals! When you drink water plus minerals or other hydrating matter, that water plus stuff finds itself leaving the blood stream in order to bathe your cells in nutrients so they function well.
Your 4 Basic Minerals or Electrolytes
Minerals like sodium and potassium are called electrolytes. Electrolytes carry electric charges (called ions) around the body and flow through the cell walls. The electric charge inside a cell needs to be kept slightly negative and the electric charge outside the cell wall needs to be kept slightly positive. Electrolytes have three jobs:
- maintain the proper electric charge both inside and outside the cell
- carry nutrients and waste products through the cell walls
- facilitate cell to cell communications
The Magic of the Sodium-Potassium Pump
Potassium is supposed to live the inside of the cell and keep it negatively charged. Sodium is supposed to live outside the cell walls and keep the spaces between your cells positively charged. Physics wants them to equalize the charges and encourages the ions to slide through the cell walls to the other side.
The cells walls contain something called a sodium-potassium pump that pushes the sodium and potassium back to their ideal sides. The pump only works if:
- there is enough of both sodium and potassium ions – 3 sodium ions get pushed out of the cell for every 2 potassium ions that get pulled back inside
- there is a unit of energy (ATP+Magnesium) to power the pump – it takes about 1/4 to 1/2 of your total body’s energy needs to power the millions of sodium-potassium pumps your cells require
When one cell needs to communicate with other cells, an electrical gate is opened in the cell wall for sodium and potassium ions to move through and switch places. The gate on the neighboring cell is stimulated to open and the flow happens into and out of the walls of the neighbor cell. Message received! Nerves use this process all the way from your toes to your brain!
Compromised cell walls, low energy supply, or low/imbalanced amounts of electrolyte ions disturb the operation of the sodium-potassium pump. When the electric nature of your cells is compromised, your cells are set up for low cellular nutrient levels, high cellular toxin levels, implosion or explosion of the cell, and the ingredients for disease.
Calcium Channels and Magnesium
Calcium is another electrolyte that has many jobs around the body including cell signalling and maintaining the electrical state of a cell. Your bones store calcium for the body to draw on anytime it needs. Every cell wall has a pathway called a calcium channel so that calcium ions can get in and out. The calcium channels provide structure to the cell walls in addition to the tunnel into and out of the cell. Magnesium and other things can block the calcium channels and help regulate flow through the channel. Too much calcium in the wrong places reduces the function of the cell and then the organ.
A great example is your pancreas: Your pancreas spits out insulin to deal with your blood sugar because calcium rushes into the pancreatic beta cell and pushes insulin out. The calcium channel closes when magnesium enters the channel and stays for a while. Without sufficient magnesium, the channel stays open for calcium . Without sufficient calcium available to move into the beta cell, you can not get the insulin out. Either way, your insulin and glucose regulation hinges on healthy amounts of calcium and magnesium available to the pancreas.
Do You Have Enough Minerals In Your Diet?
Many of us like to think that our diets are healthy but how do we really know if we are giving our unique body what is needs to function well? You can and should experiment with your diet and supplementation to find what helps you feel the best. Another option is to do a Hair Tissue Mineral Test and see which minerals your body is missing and which minerals your body has but is not making use of. Your personalized report and the consultation afterwards will give you so many ideas of how to improve your hydration!
Tissue Movement – Whole Body Exercise!
The electrical nature of your minerals that encourages nutrient and toxin movement through the cells walls does best when there is some fluid flow through the body. Within the body, as in a river, maintaining fluid flow throughout the body brings vibrancy and power. When the fluid flow stagnates, “things” accumulate and get stuck. In a river the “things” might be pieces of wood, plastic bottles, a bit of oil, or algae growth. Within your body, slow blood flow reduces the amount of oxygen available to the cells and keeps the inflammatory byproducts too close to the cells. Slow lymph flow keeps the inflammatory “cellular junk” close to the cells instead of sending the junk out of the body.
Whole body movement is key to staying hydrated on a cellular level. Whole body movements encourages blood flow, lymph flow, and stimulating changes to all the tissues of your body. Whole body exercise is like a little massage for your cells – bathing them in goodness while removing the grime from the day.
There are many wonderful ways to get whole body exercise to encourage hydration:
- Swimming in a salt pool
- Practicing yoga
- Walk with intention and bent arm swinging
- Working on Pilates exercises with equipment or just you and a mat
- Martial arts forms or Tai Chi
- Self Fascia work during a Fascial Release class
If you are interested in becoming a movement or wellness client, schedule time for us to talk!