The Importance of Water in Biohacking

1
297

If you read the title of this article and thought, “water…yeah, got it, can we get to the sexy stuff already with this biohacking?”, then I want you to stop for a second before reading any further.  We will get there.  You will be able to learn more about the fringe areas of biohacking, the tools, the gadgets, the pills and concoctions, but before that, as I began laying out with the first two articles released in this forum, I want to continue to emphasize that the basics will make or break all of the effort you put into biohacking.  To reiterate, basics include things such as proper nutrition, hydration, sun exposure, sleep, and physical activity.

How many of you drink water daily?  How many of you stay consistent with the brand of water you drink?  How many of you know the recommended daily consumption amount?  How many of you actually like (or hate) to drink water?

I’ll start out talking a bit about myself.  At age 33 now, during my formative years back in the 90s in Los Angeles, I was really just exposed to whatever food/drink my parents put on the table in front of me. This included things that most of us, including myself, know today not to be so healthy.  Canned pasta, soda, jello, white bread, non–organic PB&J, chips, and loads of candy.  Typical for kids at the time.  Luckily I was always playing at least 3 sports, and had a very high metabolism, so I always looked like I was in shape when, in reality, my internal organs and my cellular makeup were probably telling a very different story.  Honestly, thinking back on those times, I can say the only time I ever did drink water was during half-time at my sporting events.  Not the ideal way to go about your day if you want to live to be a centenarian.  

Then, in college, biohacking, eating organic, the “culture” of Whole Foods, and the healthy living fad came into being, and that’s where I started to switch up my habits.  I slowly started integrating more healthy foods, less junk, and most importantly more water into my diet, and this is where things really started to take off.  After about 6 months of consistency drinking 2L/day, the benefits (focus, energy, less hunger, increased fat loss, clearer skin, normal bowel movements, fewer sick days, and great results on my blood tests) became the norm.  I could literally see and feel myself changing from the inside, out.  Fast forward and compound the effects of drinking 2L/water a day consistently with a strict paleo diet over an extended period of time, and I found myself at 4% body fat and feeling amazing. 

But it’s hard (and also not completely healthy) to maintain such a strict regimen for a long time, so eventually I found a balance in terms of my “style” of eating (intermittent fasting coupled with keto), while maintaining the habit of drinking 2L/water per day.  I am confident that this will remain my routine for the rest of my life.

So, why should you focus on drinking more water?  Well for one, it comprises about 60% of the human body and helps regulate everything from digestion to absorption of nutrients to maintenance of body temperature.  It also helps us control the amount of calories we are ingesting daily, as it has no calories and becomes a substitute for other, less healthy alternatives.  Water (coupled with electrolytes) helps maintain integrity of our muscles, and it also keeps your skin looking clear and clean.  Finally, water helps flush your kidneys out and it also helps maintenance of normal bowel movements.  There are also implications in prevention of certain cancers and chronic diseases connected with all these benefits. [1]

“But what if I don’t like drinking water?”  Have no fear, I’m more inclined to believe that even out of people who drink water consistently, most of us would rather be drinking something else.  Don’t worry, because there are more creative ways to get the recommended daily intake, some of which you probably already do and don’t even know it.  For starters, if you don’t already, make an effort to consume more fruits and vegetables daily.  20% or more of our water actually comes from food.  Some examples of foods with high water content include: cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberry, celery, broccoli, peaches, oranges, cucumber, lettuce, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, cauliflower, cabbage, grapefruit, and the list goes on.  Most of the aforementioned foods are more than 90% water! [2]  I bet you feel better already, right?  You are probably getting more water now than you thought, especially if you are already in the habit of consuming foods mentioned in the list above.  

In addition to getting your water through food, it’s still important to actually drink enough water on a daily basis.  I know there is no taste and that some water, depending on your preference, may even taste bad or bitter to you.  So, before you make this a habit it’s important for you to find a water you actually like and stick to it (sticking to something and removing choice from the equation makes it easier to maintain a habit long-term).  Some popular brands include : Smart Water (my personal favorite), Evian, Dasani, Aquafina, Fiji, Voss, and Mountain Valley Spring Water.  You can also opt for sparkling options such as Perrier or Pelligrino.  Fun fact – drinking sparkling water has the effect of blunting hunger (due to the carbonation and sense of fullness you get when you drink it), so if you are trying to ease into intermittent fasting, I highly recommend going with sparkling water.  When choosing your brand don’t cheat, though, and read the labels completely.  Make sure you are opting for a zero-calorie water (no Vitamin Water) that doesn’t contain sugar, flavoring or other chemicals.  You want to keep things as pure as possible.  In addition, if you are a person who uses a Brita filter or similar (Kangen, Berkey, etc) and likes to keep cold water stocked in your refrigerator, I recommend storing it in blue glass bottles (google this to find out more), as opposed to plastic.  

Finally, you can consider how you actually drink the water to make things more interesting and easier to maintain.  What this means is, you can add other things to your water that are healthy in order to enhance the flavor and also enhance fat burning, detoxing benefits.  These include things like lemon, lime or other citrus derived directly from fruit (not concentrate), cucumber or mint, cayenne pepper, and you can even drink your water warm and think of it more like tea.  In fact, when you drink warm water the fat burning effect is amplified, and if you add lemon to this it also primes the digestive tract for your next meal and supports your gut.

There are tons of other variables you can integrate to enhance your water-drinking experience.  These include things like the type of filter you buy (if you want to drink from the tap), how you store the water, whether you like it ionized or you like reverse osmosis water, etc.  My suggestion is first to get started simple and then tailor your experience along the way.  If this isn’t already a habit of yours, start by trying to drink 1 glass of water with every meal (and skipping any other beverages).  Then gradually increase to 1L/day, and finally 2L/day.  Don’t worry about drinking more than that (unless you are an extreme athlete).  Drinking too much water (3-4L/day) coupled with not getting the right balance of salts and electrolytes is a recipe for cellular disaster, and can even lead to coma, seizure, and hyponatraemia (water intoxication).  2L is more than enough for the benefits to start compounding.  

My challenge for those of you who finished this article is as follows:  Go to the grocery store, purchase 1 week worth of water (2L/day for 7 days).  When you come home, throw out any other beverages you have in the fridge (any fruit juice, soda, Koolaid, etc) and spend 1 week only drinking water as a beverage.  Once you successfully complete a week, then do a second week.  By the end of your third week making this a habit, you will never go back to your old routine because you will feel so much healthier.  I know it sounds extreme to throw out your other beverages, but with habit-building it’s usually all-or-nothing.  If you keep the juices and other beverages in the fridge along with the water, you’ve allowed yourself a choice, and most will be tempted to choose the “tastier” options, completely defeating the purpose.  So stick to your guns and stay focused.  I promise when you come out on the other side of this challenge you will be a different person, and this is one of the stepping stones to achieving and maintaining health & wellness.

    Good luck biohackers, until next time…

SOURCES

[1] https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/6-reasons-to-drink-water#12- https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/19-hydrating-foods#section20
[2] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/19-hydrating-foods#section20

1 COMMENT

  1. I stopped carrying my 1 gallon water jug around, but I did that for awhile to better understand how much water one needs to drink on an average day! Another great tip I used was adding sugar-free sweeteners/electrolytes to make drinking water more enjoyable. Now I am happy with just water, maybe with a hint of lemon. 🙂 Great post!