Happily Hydrated

With temperatures around the country soaring above 30 degrees this summer, its timely to consider hydration and take a closer look at how water actually gets inside your cells!  What does that mean?… and how you can maximize your health and performance with simple hydration methods?

Interestingly, your gut plays an important role in the hydration cycle.  The question is, how do you move water from the intestinal lining into your bloodstream and more importantly, into your cells!?

About two-thirds of your body is composed of water, and a majority of that water — about 66 to 70 percent — is within your cells and lymph system.  (1)

Female water composition illustration

With age, your body tends to lose its ability to get water from the vascular system (the extracellular environment) to the inside of your cells.  Why is that important?  Because, water is an important mechanism by which you remove toxins and naturally produced oxidants from your body. (1)

So, the key is to hydrate your cells, BUT simply drinking water is not typically the most effective strategy to achieve this.  Athletes in particular need to be aware of drinking too much water and potentially suffering from hyponatremia.  This is when you drink too much water and the sodium level in your blood becomes too low which has serious consequences! (2)

More often, the water you drink will simply be urinated out before it has a chance to get into your cells. And, without proper intracellular hydration, your health and performance suffers.

Now this is where cellular hydration gets a little more interesting….

Dr Zach Bush (triple board certified MD) explains this below:

“The obvious thing around hydration is the inflammatory processes. Chronic inflammation is the accumulation of oxidative compounds within our cells and then, ultimately, within the bloodstream. That is largely the result of a lack of interaction of hydrogen that’s within the water system. Water is one of the main carriers of hydrogen. This affects every signaling system in your body, and perhaps most notable, beyond the [cleansing] part, is actual fuel production.

Your cells run on ATP, adenosine triphosphate. ATP is produced by the mitochondria, which look like bacteria, but they live inside your cells. They’re about 100 times smaller than bacteria. These mitochondria take the sugar and fat out of your food system and turn that into ATP. They do that through a series of enzymes. The respiratory chain is a series of enzymes in the wall of the mitochondria that is the one that will ultimately result in the production of ATP.

Interestingly, the F1F0 [ATP synthase] pump, a tiny molecular structure at the end of this enzyme pathway, is what will convert one adenosine diphosphate to one molecule of ATP. That last step requires four hydrogens, two oxygens and two electrons …

When you think about the structure of water, which is going to be a combination of two hydrogen [molecules] for every oxygen [molecule], you basically have two H2O molecules, and their concerted electrons are going to be necessary for that last step of fuel production.

The clinical manifestation of aging and inflammation is ultimately one of the loss of fuel production at the mitochondrial level. As you get dehydrated, as you fail to get oxygen and hydrogen in the form of water inside the cell, you lose the ability for those mitochondria to be cranking out all of that energy … used for cellular repair and replacement.”

3D illustration of mitichondria, the energy powerhouse of our cells.


In aerobic respiration that occurs in the mitochondria, the ultimate electron acceptor is oxygen.  A common belief is that oxygen is derived from the air we breathe.  However, Dr Zach Bush contends that oxygen is also derived from hydrolysis of intercellular water into hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O), and that to consistently get the proper ratio of oxygen to hydrogen, you need to liberate the oxygen from the water (H2O).  (1)

“[T]he H2 molecule is now recognized to be one of the best selective antioxidants for the hydroxyl free radical. What that means is that the hydroxyl free radical, which is the most noxious to the cell membrane and our ability to do cell maintenance, can be scrubbed or picked up by the H2.

In this way, the water you’re drinking is a delivery of both oxygen and hydrogen in a nice ratio where you can release the O’s with their electrons. They become O2. They release H’s in the form of H2. They become a scrubber of inflammation and substrate for the ATP pump.”

It is interesting to consider then, that the health of your cellular membranes influences your ability to properly hydrate! (1)

Dr Bush has done a lot of work on cellular tight junctions .  These are Velcro-like proteins that create macromembranes which hold the cells together.  The break-down of these cellular tight junctions leads to what some of us know as ‘leaky gut’.

One of the  tools used to measure the health of these macromembranes is transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER), an ohmmeter with microscopic filament attachments that allows you to measure both the inside and outside of the membrane, giving you an indication of the resistance across the epithelial layer. (1)

Dr Bush explains:

“That epithelial layer is acting as a resistor, if you will, just like the rubber on a copper wire. That plastic or rubber coating on the wire is insulating it so that the electricity stays inside the wire and doesn’t short out. In the same way, your macromembranes, the barrier systems of your gut lining, of your blood vessel tree, the blood-brain barrier, all of these create an electrical gradient across them at the macrolevel.

What we’ve shown, with regard to hydration, is that the higher that electrical charge across that membrane, the more likely you are to pull water across … You’ve got over a billion cells forming your gut lining. If you just take one of those cells … the electrical charge across that [cell], when you’re healthy, … that charge is above 10,000 volts.

Imagine the electrical energy of a lightning bolt being held across a barrier that’s just a few microns in space. It defies our normal understanding of Newtonian physics. It’s absolutely down in the quantum physics realm that a cell membrane that tiny is able to hold that enormous electrical charge. What builds that electrical charge is ultimately the mitochondria.

We talked about the mitochondria cranking out ATP. In the process of taking glucose or fat and turning it into ATP, the electron transport chain, Krebs cycle — all of these mechanisms of fuel production — create electrons. You’re creating this high electrical force within the cell through mitochondrial energy production. That leads to a gradient. A high electrical gradient is going to pull water inside the cell …

[So,] you can’t talk about mitochondrial health or mitochondrial production or fuel production without talking about water. Those two are absolutely inseparable …

If you start taking a bunch of supplements but you don’t have that electrical charge across the membrane, you can’t get the [nutrient] to transit into where it needs to be, because you’re lacking all of that intracellular commerce that’s being driven primarily by the electrical charge that’s driving water that will pull the rest of it with it.”


So what does this mean? …..Improving Hydration, does not necessarily require drinking more water.

To actually improve the electrical charge across your membranes, and therefore improve your body’s ability to stay hydrated, Dr Bush recommends:

  •  Reducing environmental stressors, such as herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals.
  • Reducing alcohol and drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.
  • Reducing electromagnetic (EMF) toxicity
  • Taking terrahydrite humic compounds, which helps support your macromembranes, allowing for greater intracellular hydration.  It also works on the mitochondria to ramp up the reactive oxygen species production in damaged cells, which takes the stress off healthy cells.  All of that helps shift the electrical potential of your mitochondria to increase the electrical charge, which allows more water to enter the cells.  (1)

Water, Electrolytes and Fiber all have an essential role in hydration.

  • Dr Bush recommends a good rule of thumb for water intake is 1 ounce (roughly 30mls) per kilogram of body weight.  (1)
  • Drinking electrolyte-rich water is also important, as it too helps build electrical charges, supporting your macromembranes.
3D Illustration of Sodium chloride rock salt

“The classic electrolyte in our diet is sodium chloride (table salt),” Dr Bush says. “Sodium chloride has a positive charge around the sodium and a negative charge around the chloride. That chloride anion, or negative charge, is one of the mega potentials there for hydration … Of course, there are many other important sources.For example, potassium chloride is a classic delivery system for chloride. However, potassium chloride can stop the heart at a certain dose. There’s a fine line between dose and overdose when it comes to just about anything in nature. But certainly, the electrolytes are one of these … The easy way to titrate your electrolytes is by your bowel movements. If you start to develop loose stools when you’re adding electrolytes, you’re probably adding a little bit too much electrolyte.

You can get electrolyte powders at any natural food store. Some of them are liquids. Some of them are powders. I don’t have a brand preference overall. I would say, think about mixing it up, and see what your body tolerates. Some of the liquid ones are so concentrated that they can cause nausea.

A lot of people will get diarrhea or loose stools on them … Find the dose at which your bowel is tolerating that electrolyte load. It’s important to note that you don’t only want to drink electrolyte water. You’d want to drink both free water and electrolyte water intermittently throughout the day …

  • Another important component is fiber. “Fiber is one of the most important mechanisms by which your fruits, vegetables and, ultimately, your body, are going to manage water,” (1) Fruits and vegetables also contain other valuable micronutrients,  which not only benefits your gut microbiome, but also helps improve hydration inside your cells.  (1)

Remember at all times – the objective is to maintain homeostasis whereby  electrolyte is balanced in the body.

So enjoy the summer outdoors and remember to hydrate – your body and performance will be happy for it!



(1)  https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/05/06/how-to-hydrate-at-the-cellular-level.aspx  06/02/2019

(2) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyponatremia/symptoms-causes/syc-20373711   06/02/2019

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