Did you know that not all water is the same?

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Staying hydrated

Around 55–60% of your body is water, and 80% of your brain is water, so it’s essential to keep hydrated. A study showed that if you are just 2% dehydrated, attention, memory and physical performance are impaired.

It seems like a simple thing to achieve, yet so many people find it difficult to take on enough fluids during the day. They run from task to task, and before they know it, it’s the end of the day, and they haven’t drunk enough water.

The recommended amount of water per day is three litres. The most important part of staying hydrated is to have a container that you always keep with you and holds roughly 500ml of water. Think about the times during your day where you can anchor drinking 500ml of water but not in one go. Here are some ideas:

  • When you first wake up
  • When you arrive at the office/before you start work
  • When you come home from school drop-off or work
  • Before you have lunch

If you can find three times per day to anchor drinking 500ml of water, then you’re already 50% of the way there. There are many apps for your phone that track your water consumption and send you reminders to make sure you have drunk enough.

Cellular hydration

Drinking the recommended three litres of water a day doesn’t necessarily mean that the water is making its way to your cells if you are urinating it straight out. Cellular water is a key component of the Krebs cycle and if you don’t have enough water, then your mitochondria can’t make enough energy.

Using a specialised device, you can measure something called your phase angle, which is a measurement of how well the cell membranes are functioning and how well hydrated your cells are. There are two elements to the phase angle:

  1. Reactance: reflects the body cell mass
  2. Resistance: reflects the water or fluid at a cellular level

A phase angle of 6 to 8 is considered good with 10 being ideal. A phase angle of 3.5 is where death occurs.

Zach Bush MD is a triple board-certified physician with expertise in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism, and Hospice/Palliative care. In an interview2 on cellular hydration with Dr Joseph Mercola he stated: ‘Interestingly, all our cancer patients tend to come in around 4.5 or below, which is interesting because it suggests, from a hydration standpoint cancer doesn’t happen until you’re so dry that you’re nearly dead. In this way, cancer is not a disease that pops out of anywhere.’

A 2018 review in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted a systematic review of existing scientific papers on the link between phase angle and mortality. It concluded that: ‘Phase angle seems to be a good indicator for mortality in many clinical situations and can be used in screening individuals prone to this outcome.’

To improve your phase angle and get hydrated at a cellular level you need to:

  • Supplement electrolytes. Common electrolytes are calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium and sodium. You probably are getting enough sodium, chloride and calcium each day, but you may want to consider supplementing with potassium and magnesium.
  • Get more fibre. Vegetables are packed with fibre which absorbs water and then carries it through your bloodstream to your cells.

Tap water

There have been many cases in the UK and USA where drinking water has been contaminated. In particular, the 2014 water crisis in Flint, Michigan where 100,000 residents, including 8,000 children under the age of six, were exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water. Since this time, dozens of other cities in the USA have reported similar issues.

Congress in the USA banned lead pipes thirty years ago, but millions of older ones remain and leach lead into the water during repairs or changes in the chemistry of the water. Similarly, the UK banned lead pipes in the 1970s, but many are still underground or are inside older homes.

‘The DWI (Drinking Water Inspectorate) says that all UK tap water is safe to drink and that they conduct millions of tests per year to guarantee the best water quality. These standards are based on European legislation and science from the World Health Organization. In 2014, water companies carried out over 4.5 million tests of water for around fifty different chemical and microbiological substances.’

Fifty different chemicals and microbiological substances are a fraction of what will exist in water, and all fifty chemicals and microbial materials can exist in the water but have to be below set thresholds, which are considered to be within a safe tolerance for humans. These include mercury, aluminium, arsenic, benzene, lead and pesticides. Chlorine is also added to your drinking water to keep it disinfected and to keep the water clean. When chlorine meets your stomach, it is going to do its job and kill bacteria.

I’m not knocking the water companies; it’s incredibly challenging to be able to supply drinking water to the country and have it completely clean.

Will the low level of these substances damage my health in the long-term? Who knows, but I prefer not to take the risk when I’m drinking four litres of water a day. I came across the following interesting facts on the UK drinking water supply:

  • Lead pipes were banned in the UK in the 1970s, and many water companies are undergoing a process to replace all lead pieces. If you live in a house that was built post-1970, then it is less likely you will have lead pipes carrying water to your home. However, it’s still worth checking.
  • In the UK, 10% of the drinking water has fluoride added to it to help prevent tooth decay. That’s a good thing, right? Unfortunately not. Adding fluoride to water has been banned in many European Countries, because it’s toxic and an endocrine disruptor.
  • According to a report by the Guardian newspaper, in 2011, the slug poison metaldehyde was found in one in eight of England’s sources of drinking water.

Whether you drink tap water or not is a personal decision.

I prefer to drink filtered water, with my next preference being glass bottled water. Plastic bottles are not always a better alternative because they are bad for the environment and even though the recycling rates are high, plastic is finding its way into waterways and the sea, where it degrades over time and enters the food system through fish.

Water filters

Water filters are commonplace in many homes either because people dislike the taste of tap water or they are looking to mitigate the risk of what may be in their water supply. There are many different water filter options available.

The most affordable option is the water filter jug, where you pour water into the top of the jug, and it then passes through a carbon filter, and you keep the water in the fridge. It’s not the most convenient way to filter your water, but it does do a decent job of removing lead, perfluorocarbons (PCBs), pesticides, herbicides, chlorine, some bacteria and some parasites.

You may also find that if your refrigerator has a water dispenser, it may well run it through a similar carbon filter. If you want to take it up a level, then you can purchase a much larger carbon block filter, and filter all water coming into your house. This is a much larger undertaking, and you are likely to need the help of a qualified plumber.

Reverse osmosis filters do a much better job of removing impurities from water and are considered the gold standard because they remove all the heavy metals, bacteria and parasites that carbon misses. You can have them fitted under your sink, surface mounted or as part of your house supply. The downside with reverse osmosis filters is that due to the way they operate, they can waste a lot of water. For example, for every four litres of water produced they waste at least one litre.

Molecular hydrogen water

Molecular hydrogen (H2) is a tasteless and odourless gas that is now known to be a potent antioxidant, neutralising free radicals that contribute to disease development, inflammation and ageing.

Hydrogen is unique because of its ability to activate the Nrf2 (Nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2) pathways inside your body which signal the production of glutathione, antioxidant enzymes or survival genes. Nrf2 is a powerful protein that is latent within your cells that doesn’t function until released by a Nrf2 activator.

Hydrogen is the smallest of molecules, having just two atoms, making it an ideal antioxidant. It’s thought that H2 may be the only antioxidant that can make its way inside the mitochondria.

It can then work deep inside the cell to neutralise free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. There are no downsides because when hydrogen neutralises a free radical, the by-product is water.

The easiest way to get H2 into your system is to drop molecular hydrogen tablets into water and then drink it. The hydrogen will enter your bloodstream and then be transported to all areas of your body.

Molecular hydrogen has been known to science for a couple of hundred years, but its profile rose rapidly following a study published in Nature Medicine6 which demonstrated its antioxidant properties. Since then there have been hundreds of reviews and articles showing molecular hydrogen’s benefits.

Benefits of hydrogen water include:

  • Helps to prevent diabetes. A 2008 study of thirty people with type 2 diabetes (T2DM) who drank four cups of hydrogen water every day for eight weeks concluded that:

‘these results suggest that supplementation with hydrogen-rich water may have a beneficial role in the prevention of T2DM and insulin resistance’.

  • Helps to prevent cancer. Molecular hydrogen’s powerful antioxidant properties mean that it eats up free radicals which, as you learned in Part 1 of this book, cause oxidative stress and cancer.
  • Reduces symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis is an inflammatory condition, and molecular hydrogen is effective in reducing inflammation.

In my opinion…

Staying hydrated is important because even a small decrease in hydration can have a significant impact on your performance. Try and aim for three to four litres a day and drink water anchored to specific times in your day. Most countries in the world now have access to drinking water in their homes, and your quality of water is endorsed against the World Health Organization’s standards. My personal view is that the standards aren’t good enough and there are still too many heavy metals, pesticides, chemicals and hormones in your drinking water. Adding molecular hydrogen to water has some fantastic health benefits, and it’s something that I use every day to keep my health and performance on track.

This blog post is based on content from my book Limitless. You can pick up a copy on paperback and Kindle here:

UK Store

US Store

About Nick

Nick Powell is the founder of Stronger Self and he works with entrepreneurs and senior leaders to enable them to take their personal and professional performance to the next level.

Nick’s approach uses cutting edge tools and techniques from the worlds of biohacking, productivity, anti-aging and neuroscience; harnessing the exciting intersection between biology and technology.

Nick has developed his Peak Performance Coaching Programmes to enable his clients to deliver extraordinary results across all aspects of their personal and professional lives.

He runs his Coaching sessions face to face in London & Surrey and across the World via Zoom.

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