Tag Archives: water

Adding Salt to the Hydration Formula

Last week we took a deeper dive into the importance of water in the body, and how to figure out your very own Hydration Formula. Today we will look at the importance of salt in hydration. As a large percentage of our bodies consists of water, the role that salt plays in it becomes very important.

“Not only is blood mostly water, but the watery portion of blood, the plasma, has a concentration of salt and other ions that is remarkably similar to sea water.”[1]

Salt in the human body is involved in many different functions such as regulating blood pressure, muscle contraction, sending nerve impulses, and regulating the fine balance in the sodium-potassium pump. You can think of the sodium-potassium pump as a doorway in the surrounding cell wall (cell-membrane). It is critical for good cell function that this door is able to open and close whenever it needs to. When there is a dis-balance between sodium and potassium in the body the cell cannot get the nutrients or messages that it needs, and it is also becomes difficult to send anything out of the cell.

But, isn’t salt bad for you?
Yes and no. The salt that is bad for you is the type of salt that you will find in processed foods and your typical crisp white table salt. These salts have been highly refined and stripped of their beneficial minerals. They are often bleached to become extra white, and have added chemicals in them to keep them from clumping. These things are definitely not good for your health, and are something to stay away from. However, sea-salt such as pink Himalayan sea-salt acts very different to these processed salts.

Sea-salt is great for your body and we need it!
Did you know that…

-is a natural antihistamine
-is vital for the kidneys to clear excess acidity
-is essential for preserving the serotonin and melatonin levels in the brain
-is a vital element for diabetics through blood sugar regulation
-clears the lungs of mucus particularly in asthma [2]

We have become so scared of real sea-salt because we have been told for so long that salt (meaning processed salt) is bad for us. This has created a problem where people who care about what they eat are eating so “clean” that they more or less omit to eating salt. This is a very bad idea as it creates an imbalance in the body on a cellular level which can take on all sorts of expression. PhD Stacy Sims, who is a specialist in hydration says a common mistake she sees athletes make is drinking lots of water, but without the salt. It just makes you run to the bathroom all the time, because without the salt the body cannot absorb it, and even though your pee is clear you may be under-hydrated. [3]

The Salt Formula
Ok, so how much salt do I need then? According to Dr. Batmanghelidj, an expert on hydration, as a general rule you need at least 1.5g of sea-salt  for every quart of water (950ml) that you drink.[4] So, if we go back to our example of Ben from last week, who should drink 2.3 Liters of water on an average day. He should then add at least 3.6g of sea-salt to that amount of water. To give you an indication visually, 3g of sea-salt is roughly half a teaspoon of salt. Another thing worth mentioning is that if you are using a reverse Osmosis water filter you need to add even more, as the filter system is so good that it also clears out most of the minerals. Read more about that here.

The Salt Formula
 1.5g of sea-salt  *  your daily amount of water in Liter/quart (calculated from last week) = total amount of salt to add to your water

Maintaining the fine balance
Great, so now that you will start adding some good quality sea-salt to your water and food, it is also important to keep in mind the sodium-potassium balance. When you start adding salt you should also make sure that you are getting enough potassium, to keep that healthy balance. This is easy, and one of the best ways to do that is to eat plenty of veggies and fruits, such as avocado, spinach, beets, black beans, sweet potato and watermelon.

“Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.”
-Nelson Mandela

Enjoy a salted, well hydrated weekend! 😉


P.S Check out this video if you want to nerd out some more on hydration, salt, VO2 output, blood volume and fatigue in athletes. FYI, sound quality is unfortunately not awesome .

Current Concepts and Thinking in Hydrating Athletes w/ Dr. Stacy Simms | Community MWod Video



[2,4] F. Batmanghelidj, Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, Salt, pg 154-160.

[3] Dr. Kelly Starrett, Ready to Run, Hydration, pg 162.

Photo credit to Izzy Gerosa, Mira Bozhko, André Robillard, Roman Mager on Unsplash

The Hydration Formula – What’s Your Number?

Last week we started talking about water and dehydration. Let’s dig a bit deeper.
Why is it so important for us to stay well hydrated?
Water is involved in nearly every function of the body, and it is crucial to our survival and well-being. It transports nutrients, improves oxygen uptake in cells, works as a shock absorber, lubricates our joints, and keeps cell communications up to speed. When we are dehydrated none of these important functions work optimally, and that is bad!

I like to think of it like this:
Imagine that you are driving on the highway. There are three lanes, not too much traffic, and everything is running very smooth. It feels very relaxed to drive this way, and without effort  everyone gets to where they need to on time. But, all of a sudden there is a roadblock up ahead, and the three lanes are now forced into one single lane. The cruising speed you had is long gone, and now it’s bumper to bumper traffic, moving at a snails pace. It’s getting hot sitting around in that car, the pressure is up, and you can see people getting very irritated all around you. Things are not working well, and on top of that you will be late to your destination. In essence this is what it’s like for your body trying to work while it is dehydrated.

Some common signs of dehydration include fatigue, headache, irritability, a “crawling or itching” feeling in the legs, and smelly body odor. Remember Stinky Dave? Check out this video on how it may feel to be dehydrated as an athlete. When we are often or chronically dehydrated we get problems that can spread into all of our different internal systems. Due to the lack of water the detoxification process that needs to happen continuously in our bodies, doesn’t work very well. When we cannot get rid of the waste, it piles up and causes problems.

“Dehydration results in an accumulation of harmful substances in the blood that act on cell membranes and have an adverse effect on the kidneys, nervous system, and immune system.” [1]

What can go wrong?
Dr. Batmanghelidj has written an excellent book, Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, where he goes into detail about what can go wrong with each system when we are dehydrated. It is a highly recommended read if you are interested in your health and how to improve it!

For instance…”Higher blood cholesterol is a sign that the cells of the body have developed a defense mechanism against the osmotic force of the blood that keeps drawing water out through the cell membranes, or the concentrated blood cannot release sufficient water to go through the cell membrane and maintain normal cell functions…Cholesterol production in the cell membrane is a part of the cell survival system. It is a necessary substance. Its excess denotes dehydration.”[3]

Asthma and allergies are indicators that the body has resorted to an increase production of the neurotransmitter histamine, the sensor regulator of water metabolism and its distribution in the body… Since one of the sites for water loss through evaporation is in the lungs, the bronchial constriction produced by histamine means less water evaporation during the act of breathing – a simple, natural maneuver to preserve the body water.”[2]

your weight in kg * 33 = X ml of water to drink in a day

The Hydration Formula
So how much water should I drink then? For my metric readers the formula is as follows: your weight in kg x 33 = X amount of ml of water to drink in a day.  For my other readers the formula is your weight in lbs divided by 2 = X amount of ounces of water to drink in a day.

your weight in lbs divided by 2 = X ounces of water to drink in a day

Where most people go wrong is that they do not calculate for all the drinks that they will have in a day that will act as diuretics. So pay attention and don’t make this common mistake! If you add any of these drinks to your day like coffee, soda, diet-soda, fruit juice, tea, or alcohol [4] you need to add 1.5x the size of that drink to your day. If it is very hot outside or you are doing sports you need to add that to the total as well.

So, what may that look like?
Let’s say Ben weighs 70kg. 70kg x 33 = 2310ml = 2.31Liter. That is the daily total of water that Ben should drink. But then he had 2 coffees and 2 glasses of wine, which makes  a total of about 800ml. 800ml diuretics x 1.5= 1200ml = 1.2Liter. Ben should then drink 2.31+1.2= 3.5 Liter of water that day.
If he then added some sports to his day he would have to add even more water to his total. Don’t forget to add a pinch of good sea-salt to your water cup as well. Without adequate amount of good mineral salt, your body cannot absorb the water. You just end up running to the toilet all the time and will still be dehydrated. But, more on this next week.

How to get off to a great start?
Figure out
what your daily number is and then adjust depending on what other types of drinks you are having that day. Then why not start to drink a large cup of water with a pinch of sea-salt the very first thing you do in the morning.

And that’s a great start! 😉


[1] Bennett and Barrie, 7-Day Detox Miracle, pg 80.
[2] Dr F.Batmanghelidj, Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, Asthma and Allergies, pg 117.
[3] Dr F.Batmanghelidj, Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, Higher Blood Cholesterol, pg 87.
[4] Dr F.Batmanghelidj, Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, Renin-Angiotension System, pg 71.
Photo credit Aidan Meyer, Ethan Sykes, Pahala Basuki, Nabeel Syed on Unsplash


A few words on drinking, dehydration and travel

As I have spent some time in airports and in airplanes recently I noticed how little people are drinking! Say what? What I mean is, I noticed how little WATER people are drinking. I see people drinking lots and lots of coffee, but also fruit juice, tea, wine and beer. These drinks all contain dehydrating agents which makes them act like a diuretic. The person sitting next to me on the flight only had one glass of water during a 10 hr flight.To me this is crazy, knowing a bit about anatomy and the importance of hydration!

Other then the 1 glass of water she had a couple of glasses of orange juice, 2-3 glasses of wine with the food, and then a couple of cups of coffee. Just before we got off the flight she took an ibuprofen/aspirin to “help her with the headaches”. She said she always get them on these long flights. I was not surprised having noticed her “drinking” habits, as getting a headache is one of the common signs of dehydration along with feeling really tired.

Did you know that because of the pressure changes when flying and all the extra noise, our taste buds are overwhelmed and we cannot taste the food very well. That means that airplane food always has way more salt and sugar in it than normal, in order for us to taste it. In terms of hydration this is not good, because the excess salt and sugar will act on the body as a dehydrating agent.

We have probably all heard that it is important to stay hydrated, but what does that really mean, and how does that differ from person to person? What part does salt play in staying hydrated? It turns out it plays a very important part. “ But I heard that salt is bad for you, what’s up with that?” I will delve deeper into these topics for next weeks blog.

If this is your color…

But just for a quick tip right now, when you go to the toilet – pay attention. Your pee should be a very very light yellow, every time that you go to the toilet. Then you know that you have enough water in your system. The stronger the color gets and odor, it’s a sign that you are getting more and more dehydrated. You should easily drink above 2 Liters of WATER a day. And add some good quality salt to your food or drink as well. I will explain the correlation between salt and water further in the next blog.

In the ideal world, the best thing for your hydration during your next trip would be to bring your own food and drink nothing but water. If that is too much out of your comfort zone at the moment, at least limit drinks that acts as diuretics as much as possible, such as fruit juice, coffee, tea and alcohol.  From Wikipedia “A diuretic is any substance that promotes diuresis, that is, the increased production of urine.” Jet lag is also always harder to get over when your body is dehydrated, because it makes you more tired.

Here are a couple of more questions challenging the “what you think you know comfort zone“. Did you know that:
-in prolonged dehydration, the brain cells begin to shrink?
high blood cholesterol has a direct link to dehydration?
morning sickness in pregnancy has a direct correlation to your body’s hydration?

So, keep sipping that water and I will catch up with you next week! 🙂





Photo by Austin Neill and Ilya Yakover from Unsplash