The 9-Day Liver Detox Diet: The Definitive Diet that Delivers Results
By Patrick Holford, Fiona McDonald Joyce
Drinking eight glasses of water-about 48 fluid ounces, or eight 6-ounce glasses-makes an enormous difference to how you feel, especially in your energy and mental clarity. Water helps to dilute toxins in the blood for elimination via the kidneys, so drinking water helps your kidneys to function better. Your water intake can include caffeine-free teas and coffee alternatives. (Caffeine is a diuretic, so it causes more water loss from the body.) So, this might mean having three hot drinks, your special "detox juice," and four glasses of water a day. Half a lemon squeezed into a mug of hot water is another good option, as lemon is a great antioxidant detoxifier and helps the liver flush its toxins into the bowel. You can also add a slice of ginger (another excellent antioxidant) as well as, or instead of the lemon, if you prefer.
However, 48 fluid ounces of water a day is really a minimum, because if the weather is hot, or if you exercise, you will need more water to replace the liquid you are losing as sweat. Also, drinking more is generally helpful for the kidneys, because many toxins, both those generated by the body and those consumed, are eliminated via the kidneys. Drinking plenty of water helps dilute the concentration of toxins in the blood, so the kidneys have an easier time-up to a point. It's also important to keep your body hydrated so that toxins are not reabsorbed into your body from the bowel. The maximum amount of liquids drunk should be equal to the amount the kidneys can reasonably excrete in twenty-four hours, and in adults this is about 4 1/4 pints per day. So, be aware that drinking more than you need, which is about 3 3 1/4 to 4 1/4 pints a day under normal circumstances, isn't better for you and may be worse. This is because too much liquid does tax the kidneys and can lead to overhydration. Taken to the extreme this can kill you-a man died after drinking 21 pints in an hour.
What happens if you don't get enough?
Water has many roles throughout the body other than flushing the kidneys, including dissolving minerals and acting as a delivery system, a lubricant, and a temperature regulator. Even very mild dehydration can lead to constipation, headaches, lethargy, and mental confusion, while increasing the risk of urinary tract infections and kidney stones. When just 1 percent of body fluids are lost, body temperature goes up and mental concentration becomes more difficult.
The thirst mechanism kicks in when we have lost between 1 and 2 percent of body water. However, the thirst reflex is often confused with hunger. If we ignore it or mistake it for hunger, dehydration can continue to about 3 percent, where it seriously affects both mental and physical performance. Sports nutritionists have found that a 3 percent loss of body water results in an 8 percent loss in muscle strength. So, here are some tips to get you in the habit of drinking enough water:
Drink a glass of water when you wake up. The blood and urine have the highest concentration of toxins in the morning, so drinking water helps you detoxify by diluting these toxins.
Always drink before you cat. We often mistake thirst for hunger. So, especially if you are looking to lose weight, drink a glass of water before you reach for a snack or have a main meal.
Drink two glasses of water after you exercise. Muscles get stiff when you exercise, and you also lose water through sweat. You need about 1 1/4 pints of fluids an hour, depending on the intensity of the exercise.
Keep water where you are. Buy yourself an attractive 1-quart jug to keep on your desk at work. Fill it up with filtered water in the morning and drink it by the evening. Or buy 1 quart of natural mineral water and drink it by the evening. Alternatively, travel with a water container; fill it up, and drink it all, each day. One quart of water equals a little more than five 6-ounce glasses.
Drink filtered or natural mineral water. Avoid any bottled water that isn't labeled "natural mineral water," even if it says "spring" or "pure." Only springwater that comes from a pure source and has consistent mineral levels season by season, year after year, can be labeled "natural mineral water." What this means is that the water fell to earth, often hundreds of years ago, and was then gradually pushed to the surface by underwater springs through deep bedrock cracks, purified and mineralized in the process. This water doesn't have any of the pesticide or nitrate contaminants found in the water table, and therefore in tap water.
The best water filters use carbon filtration systems fitted under the sink to give you purified water. I prefer these to distilled water or reverse osmosis, which remove all of the minerals in the water.
By the way, there's nothing wrong with naturally carbonated water. Carbon grabs ahold of minerals. Naturally carbonated mineral water such as Perrier, therefore, contains carbonated minerals that are absorbed into the body. However, the carbon in artificially fizzy drinks can grab hold of minerals in the body and take them out. People who drink lots of fizzy drinks, especially if they also contain phosphoric acid, tend to have less bone density as a result. So, the best mineral water to drink is naturally carbonated, followed by still, followed by artificially carbonated. Pure distilled water, while good from the point of view of containing no impurities, also contains no minerals. Most natural water contains significant amounts of minerals-for example 60 to 100 mg of calcium in 2 quarts of water.