The Importance of Hydration
Dr. Zach Bush is a physician and researcher with a practice in Charlottesville, Virginia. Before he switched his focus to nutrition and natural medicine, he was a cancer researcher. In this article he is redefining and explaining what really is hydration.
Your gut is an important part of the hydration cycle. The question is, how do you move water from the intestinal lining into your bloodstream and, more importantly, into your cells? When we talk about hydration, we’re not simply talking about drinking enough water throughout the day but, more specifically, getting water inside your cells.
“That’s two vastly different things,” he says. A common recommendation to ensure hydration is to drink water until your urine runs clear. Unfortunately, that does not necessarily translate into water inside the cell. That, as it turns out, is really a crux of what we call the aging process.”
About two-thirds of your body is composed of water, and a majority of that water — about 66 to 70 percent — is within your cells and lymph system. With age, your body tends to lose its ability to get water from the vasculature, the extracellular environment, to the inside of your cells. “If we could stay perfectly hydrated in the intracellular environment, our aging would slow down if not reverse,” Bush says. The reason is because water is an important mechanism by which you remove toxins and naturally produced oxidants from your body.
Intracellular Hydration Is Key for Health
So, the crux is to hydrate your cells, and simply drinking water is not typically the most effective strategy to achieve this. Oftentimes the water you drink will simply be urinated out before it has a chance to get into your cells. And, without proper intracellular hydration, your health suffers.
Bush explains: “The obvious thing around hydration is the inflammatory processes. Chronic inflammation is the accumulation of oxidative compounds within our cells and then, ultimately, within the bloodstream. That is largely the result of a lack of interaction of hydrogen that’s within the water system. Water is one of the main carriers of hydrogen. This affects every signaling system in your body, and perhaps most notable, beyond the [cleansing] part, is actual fuel production.
Your cells run on ATP, adenosine triphosphate. ATP is produced by the mitochondria, which look like bacteria, but they live inside your cells. They’re about 100 times smaller than bacteria. These mitochondria take the sugar and fat out of your food system and turn that into ATP. They do that through a series of enzymes. The respiratory chain is a series of enzymes in the wall of the mitochondria that is the one that will ultimately result in the production of ATP.
Interestingly, the F1F0 [ATP synthase] pump, a tiny molecular structure at the end of this enzyme pathway, is what will convert one adenosine diphosphate to one molecule of ATP. That last step requires four hydrogens, two oxygens and two electrons …
When you think about the structure of water, which is going to be a combination of two hydrogen [molecules] for every oxygen [molecule], you basically have two H2O molecules, and their concerted electrons are going to be necessary for that last step of fuel production.
The clinical manifestation of aging and inflammation is ultimately one of the loss of fuel production at the mitochondrial level. As you get dehydrated, as you fail to get oxygen and hydrogen in the form of water inside the cell, you lose the ability for those mitochondria to be cranking out all of that energy … used for cellular repair, replacement and the whole anti-aging effort.”
Oxygen Derived From Intercellular Water
In aerobic respiration that occurs in the mitochondria, the ultimate electron acceptor is oxygen. A common belief is that oxygen is derived from the air we breathe. But Bush contends that oxygen is also derived from hydrolysis of intercellular water into hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O), and that to consistently get the proper ratio of oxygen to hydrogen, you need to liberate the oxygen from the water (H2O).
“The H2 molecule is now recognized to be one of the best selective antioxidants for the hydroxyl free radical. What that means is that the hydroxyl free radical, which is the most noxious to the cell membrane and our ability to do cell maintenance, can be scrubbed or picked up by the H2.
In this way, the water you’re drinking is a delivery of both oxygen and hydrogen in a nice ratio where you can release the O’s with their electrons. They become O2. They release H’s in the form of H2. They become a scrubber of inflammation and substrate for the ATP pump.”
According to Bush, all of his patients are dehydrated. Indeed, he believes virtually everyone is dehydrated to some extent.
Dehydration Leads to Death or Disease
As explained by Bush, I’ve never seen somebody coming in with a health complaint with a phase angle measurement better than 7.” In the general public, the angle phase bell curve measurement he uses is between 3.5 and 10. Death tends to happen around 3.5.
“Interestingly, all of 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. It’s simply a lack of water within the cells. You get an accumulation of oxidative damage, which will then do the DNA injury and all of these other things that we think of as being the cancer process … Ideal health is up around 10. Death is around 3.5. Most of us in the U.S. are living between 6 and 8, and those are people in good health.”
So, you can’t talk about mitochondrial health or mitochondrial production or fuel production without talking about water. Those two are absolutely inseparable … If you start taking a bunch of supplements but you don’t have that electrical charge across the membrane, you can’t get the [nutrient] to transit into where it needs to be, because you’re lacking all of that intracellular commerce that’s being driven primarily by the electrical charge that’s driving water that will pull the rest of it with it.”
We’re all very aware that we have toxin accumulation in our body … But all of our detox efforts are ineffective if we’re not getting water inside the cell. We’re not talking about a single organ. We’re talking about the total global population in your body of 70 trillion cells.