What Should My Paleo Water Intake Be?

What Is Correct Paleo Water Intake?

Before we get into some theory, take a moment and picture our cave dwelling ancestors making their way over to a new home, would they be carrying water bottles or require frequent drinks of water? Nope! Conventional wisdom tells us that we should aim to drink around eight glasses of water a day. This seems like a large amount, especially when you consider that it is about two litres worth, or one soda bottle. Almost nobody drinks that amount of water everyday, at least not comfortably. At large volumes of water consumption in fact, people have actually died. At 2 litres of water daily, you could potentially also run the risk of thinning out your reserves of electrolytes. In fact this is what contributes to being killed by water over-consumption. Our bodies are particularly adept at sourcing water, and most of our water comes from the foods we eat.So it appears then that once again, conventional wisdom has led us astray yet again. This ties back to why our ancestors wouldn’t have to have drank as much water as we perhaps once thought because of their diet. Obviously water would have been an important factor when deciding on where to live, but there wasn’t necessarily a need to make water immediately available like modern man.

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Our ancestors would have had to have probably settled for the odd cup-like leafe every now and then for water…

How much water to drink daily

Generally speaking, it is best to rely on your natural thirst mechanism as an indication on how much and how frequently you should drink water. I have noticed that because of the radical increase in my vegetable consumption my overall fluid water intake has decreased. Having said that though, I still keep a bottle of water on my desk and sip at it whenever I think about water. That is actually a pretty good gauge on when or not you should hydrate. If you think about water, drink some.

Unless you are exercising pretty strenuously, you don’t need to consume a hell of a lot of water. It is all relative to the amount of water you expel as sweat during exercise, and the subsequent thirst you feel afterwards or during said exercise. Remember that when starting to exercise after a period of inactivity it will feel as though you are thirsty as you adapt to the increased amount of air being taken into your lungs. Try not to overhydrate.

Perhaps a more accurate recommendation for daily water consumption would be to aim for around 1 litre or 4 glasses. This can come from a multitude of sources, as contrary to popular belief, beverages such as tea, coffee and alcohol (non sugary) don’t dehydrate you. While some drinks, such as coffee and other caffeinated drinks can be diuretic, meaning they make you want to urinate, the quantity you have to consume to make this a health hazard is out of reach of most people.

An important note about too much water consumption

The issue with water consumption is that if too much is consumed, there is a risk of washing out enough electrolytes to promote negative health conditions.  This is especially true if you are an athlete and drink large amounts of water after and during strenuous exercise without recovering salts and electrolytes. Remember that you lose a lot of salt when sweating, and this needs to be replenished in order to maintain health, and promote effective muscle action during exercise. The specific condition related to the over consumption of water after strenuous exercise is called hyponatremiaA more serious condition related to the over-consumption of water is cerebral edema, the swelling of the brain due to excessive amounts of fluid.

So you see, there is a balance, just as there is with everything when talking about nutrition. The idea that we need aroun 2 litres or eight glasses of water a day is to me, excessive and unnecessary. Follow your thirst and trust your body. It is built to survive, and will notify you of any distress it is feeling and instinctively you’ll have an idea of how to fix it.

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Water consumption and eating

The stomach requires there to be a specific level of acidity present to effectively break down proteins so that the rest of the digestive system can properly process food. This acidity usually needs to be in the pH 1-2 area, and you guessed it, too much water upsets this level. Too much water, or even a glass of water before eating can dilute stomach acid enough to allow certain proteins through the stomach without being sufficiently processed, creating problems later down the line. 

It is simple tricks like this that can mean the difference between someone being diagnosed with a food allergy, and is very simple to make into a habit. Try not to drink before or during a meal. This trick in optimising stomach pH also plays a role in destroying bacteria and protecting against foreign germs etc.

Conclusion

So to sum it all up, trust your body and your thirst mechanism. You don’t need 8 glasses a day to live a healthy, paleo existence, and you won’t fall over dead by drinking less either. In addition to the points I’ve made above, treat bottled water as a unnecessary accessory. For the most part, bottled water is just as clean as tap water, and it is also stored in plastic containers which can affect the taste of the water and contribute to pollution levels. If you are thirsty, drink tap water, it’s good!

Heres to good levels of hydration,

Keep well,
Andrew.