YOUR NEW ENERGY SOURCE
Water found in plants may be the best way to hydrate
What your body really needs to function optimally, it turns out, may be gel water, a little-known substance that scientists are just starting to learn about. Also called structured water, this liquid is found in and around plant and animal cells, including our own, says Dr Dana Cohen, co-author of Quench, a book about gel water. “Because most of the water in our cells is in this form, we believe our bodies absorb it quite efficiently,” she says. That means gel water, which we can get from plants such as aloe, melons, greens and chia seeds, offers an extremely effective way to stay hydrated, energised and healthy. In fact, adding gel water to plain water during exercise or anytime your body is parched may be the best way to hydrate, says Stacy Sims, an exercise physiologist and a nutrition scientist at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. “Plain water has a low osmolality – a measure of the concentration of particles, such as glucose and sodium it contains – which means it doesn’t get into the body effectively through the small intestines, where 95 per cent of water absorption takes place,” explains the co-author of Roar, a nutrition and training guide. Plant and other sources of water, on the other hand, often contain some glucose or sodium, so our bodies can easily soak them up.
Gel water also gives us “helper nutrients”, says Dr Howard Murad, author of The Water
Secret and founder of Murad Skincare. “When you eat a cucumber, you’re getting not just water but also phytonutrients and roughage. In gel form, the water is released more gradually into your body, plus you get the other benefits of those nutrients.” Here are three easy ways to increase your intake of this super hydrator – boosting your health and drive.
Drink a green smoothie every day
Start your mornings with a healthy shake made with greens, chia seeds, lemon, berries, cucumber, an apple or a pear, and a little ginger, suggests Dr Cohen. “Chia soaked in water is extremely high in gel water and is rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which help move water into the cells,” she says. Cucumbers and pears are also loaded with gel water, plus fibrous tissue, which helps your body absorb the water.
Add a pinch of salt
Stir 1/ teaspoon of table salt into roughly 16 every 240ml of regular water you drink. This boosts the osmolality just enough to make your small intestines absorb it, says Stacy. Sprinkle salt on your salad or fruit plate too. “The best thing for you on a hot day is some lightly salted cold melon or tomato,” she says. “These foods have a high water content and a bit of glucose. That, plus the salt, will help your body take in the fluid.”
Exercise a little more
It sounds counter-intuitive, but the right moves can actually optimise your hydration levels, says Gina Bria, head of the Hydration Foundation and co-author of Quench. Research has shown that the fascia, the thin sheath of fibrous tissue around our muscles and organs, transports water molecules throughout the body and certain activities help that process along. “Twisting movements are especially good for hydration,” Gina says. Spend a few minutes doing yoga or some stretching three or four times a day to keep the water flowing.
Strength-building exercises may also help your body hydrate. “Muscle is about 70 per cent water,” says Dr Murad. Bulking up lets your body hold on to more water to prevent dehydration.