About water retention, dehydration and salt

As many of you know, I'm not a fan of "manufactured" recovery drinks full of sugar and colorings. In fact, one of my hobbies is to bash the likes of Gatorade for adding flame retardant to their beverages! 

Our ancestors didn't drink Gatorade or supplement with electrolytes after chasing a prey, so what's the rationale for us to do so? I've found with myself as well as athletes I work with that pure clean water is all you need even during hot/long endurance workouts, especially once you get your body adapted to it. 

With the summer upon us, it's important to know how best to hydrate. You can read my thoughts on how best to hydrate for exercise at this link: http://ow.ly/3mjA8F 

A recent study (http://ow.ly/3mjyAR) provides some evidence of how Deep Mineral Water (DMW) works very well as a recovery drink post dehydration of exercise. 

Of course, "recovery" is subjective, so what I found interesting in this study is that they tested the athletes' ability to recover their muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and electrolye balances to be able to perform again

And while DMW did outperform plain water, it was shown to work just as well as many of the commercial rehydration products on the market. 

In fact, they also touched on another important point I often dwell on: amino acids. One of the main reasons behind fatigue and the "bonk" in endurance exercise is the breakdown of muscle protein. Studies have shown that blood levels of amino acids are more closely associated with "hitting the wall" than low blood glucose

But I digress: what is DMW? It's water pulled from deep reservoirs at a depth of more than 600m. What distinguishes it from regular bottled water is its mineral content, which is as follows:

(all in mg/L)
Sodium (Na): 76
Potassium (K): 19
Calcium (Ca): 220
Magnesium (Mg): 73
Chloride (Cl): 46
Sulfate (SO4): 834
Fluoride (F): 0.3

It is also far richer in trace elements such as: copper, iron, manganese, chromium, phosphorus, boron and zinc. 

Water Retention

I often hear concerns about water retention caused by "too many minerals in your bottled water". I see people scanning the labels of bottled water at the supermarket looking for the lowest mineral contents. 

Here's my 2 cents on this:
- Your body is naturally designed to maintain homeostasis: a natural balance that allows it to function optimally
- This means that your body will retain or get rid of minerals based on that
- Can minerals cause water retention? Sure: but only in situations where that homeostasis thermostat  is broken
- Natural foods contain a balance of minerals (sodium, magnesium, chloride etc) that is natural and in sync with your body's homeostasis. So food/drink with a full complement of minerals will not cause water retention
- So when it comes to water, chose natural unprocessed water with a mineral content that's not been tampered with through processing, and your body will naturally know how to deal with it
- If you chose water artificially low in minerals, your body will detect that something is wrong with that water and will retain more minerals as a result

In fact, the study i'm mentioning above also showed that the athletes who replenished with DMW did NOT retain more water than those drinking plain water.

What about salt? Does that cause water retention?

No, at least real salt doesn't. 

What many people don't know is that most commercially available salts are highly processed to give you that nice white clean-looking salt you put in your food. But herein lies the problem:

Real unprocessed sea salt has a full complement of minerals that are naturally balanced and which your body can recognize. 

Processed salt has far fewer minerals, but actually has relatively higher sodium compared to the other minerals because of that processing. The result is that when you eat it, you get a spike in sodium so high that your kidneys can't get rid of it fast enough, and you retain water in an attempt to dilute that excess sodium. 

Bottom line: stick to natural foods, don't be afraid of minerals from unprocessed sources (including real unprocessed sea salt), and drink unprocessed water!