Cold weather and water – hydrate for good health

It can still be a ‘winter wonderland’ outside in many areas at this time of year.  And in cold weather the last thing we generally think about is ensuring that we are drinking adequate amounts of water. In the middle of summer, that seems to be the most natural thing to do, but not in the colder months.

We sweat noticeably when it is hot, but we also loose large amounts of water when it is cold and dry outside and warm and dry indoors. And we normally do not just sit around during the colder months. In the Okanagan we are blessed with wonderful mountains and forests. A day of intense skiing, boarding, snow mobiling or hiking is guaranteed to increase your rate of water loss. Our normal food digestion and waste elimination processes also requires water.

So, we need to drink plenty of water – at least two to three litres per day just with normal activity. The next question is, what type of water should we drink? There are now many water choices available, and not all are ideal or even beneficial. When I first moved to Canada, I drank reverse osmosis (RO) water which seems to be readily available here from many commercial outlets. However, I became very dehydrated within weeks, even though I was drinking adequate quantities of water. As I was exercising heavily at the time, the dehydration also contributed to abnormal and excessive weight loss. Drinking additional amounts of RO water had little to no effect. I switched to drinking alkaline water and the improvement was immediate and dramatic. I was able to hydrate properly and regained my normal good health.

Why is alkaline water able to hydrate the body far more effectively than RO water and many other types of purified (and bottled) water? The answer seems to be two-fold.

First, the processing of regular (tap) water to generate alkaline water often involves methods that change the physical structure of the water. The water molecule, H2O, will normally aggregate to form different structural forms of water. For instance, when heated, water vaporises and is mostly present in its basic molecular form or as small water droplets (steam). When cooled, water molecules will group (cluster) together to become liquid, and when frozen will combine in tight hexagonal crystals as snowflakes or solid ice. In normal tap water and in most purified waters including RO water, the water molecules form ‘clusters’ of around 15 to 30 H2O molecules at any one point in time. The body has difficulty in properly absorbing the larger water clusters. Additionally, if this water is also acidic (as are most purified waters), then the electrical composition of many of the water molecules is in a form which will not be accepted by the water ‘channels’ in cells, again leading to poor water absorption. Most alkaline water has small water molecule clusters (typically 4 to 6 molecules per cluster) and the water molecules are electrically acceptable to cellular water channels. Hence alkaline water is readily absorbed.

Secondly, purified (RO) water has been scrubbed free of any minerals. This lack of mineralisation reduces the ability of the body to alkalise the water after its passage through the stomach and this reduces its absorption capacity in the intestine. Most alkaline water, on the other hand, contains mineral salts and trace elements which significantly improve the production of bicarbonate ions in the pancreas, which improves the alkalisation of the water and subsequently its absorption by the body. You will not feel ‘bloated’ when you drink alkaline water, and hydration of the body is rapid and complete particularly during and immediately after intense exercise.

High performance athletes should always drink alkaline/mineralised water, and should avoid soft drinks, acidic sports drinks and particularly acidic demineralised (RO) water. When drinking alkaline/mineralised water, high performance athletes report being able to adequately hydrate before an event without becoming bloated, and report significant improvement in peak aerobic performance, often by as much as 50 per cent.

You do not have to be a supreme athlete to benefit from the improved hydration provided by alkaline water. Dehydration itself is thought to contribute to many chronic diseases, either directly through the lack of adequate water for optimal digestion and waste removal, or indirectly through metabolic acidosis in association with acidic diets. It is considered that around 75 per cent of North Americans have symptoms of chronic dehydration, and not surprisingly the incidence of chronic disease continues to rise.

Water is the most essential element for life. Quality water is an essential factor for your good health. By drinking alkaline/mineralised water as your normal water source, you will be contributing enormously to your overall health and vitality.

Dr. Roger Drinkwater can be contacted by email: