Your Body is Mostly Water? Not Exactly

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“Your blood is like a soup that needs to be seasoned just right. [Eat for Heat] helps to teach you what to watch for so you don’t screw up your “soup” by drinking too many fluids (which waters it down) or not seasoning it enough (with things like carbohydrates and salt).”

~Dr. Garrett Smith; Review of Eat for Heat: The Metabolic Approach to Food and Drink

We often hear that our bodies are “mostly water.”  The rough approximation is that an average person with a relatively average amount of body fat will be composed of about 60% water.  Over the course of the lifespan, the percentage of body water gradually decreases.  This is often used as justification of drinking lots and lots of pure water as if doing so will somehow influence this number or this trend.

Today, we get real about what our bodies are composed of, and the nature of that “water” in our bodies.  This should serve as a decent set of cliff notes for those who haven’t or won’t be reading my latest book.  The basic concept is easy to grasp and apply with quickly noticeable physiological changes – no matter what your diet consists of.  I even work with strict vegans who have noticed substantial increases in body temperature with the most very minor changes to their “soup.”  In other words, this element is important to our health no matter what diet we are following – like a good night’s sleep.

Dr. Smith’s metaphor of the blood being “soup” is perfect.  I was kicking myself (well, punching myself in the groin – I’m not flexible enough to actually kick myself) that I didn’t think of this myself when writing Eat for Heat.

Before we begin, here are a few basic facts about our physiology that you may not know…

1)      Roughly 2/3 of the water in our bodies is contained inside our cells and is called intracellular fluid.

2)     The remaining 1/3 of the water in our bodies lives outside of our cells in our extracellular fluid – 1/5 of that being the blood and the remaining 4/5 being interstitial fluid and fluids used for many important functions, such as ocular, peritoneal, and cerebrospinal fluids.

3)     In order to maintain a strong cell membrane and a stable environment in the cell, the fluid on the inside of the cell and the outside of the cell maintain polar opposite qualities – most notably, the cell is high in potassium and low in sodium.  The extracellular fluid is high in sodium and low in potassium.

Pay particular attention to #3.  Our cells like to maintain a stable and healthy environment that is relatively unaffected by what goes on in our daily lives.  Being able to maintain a balanced, homeostatic state is of extreme importance.

One of the greatest threats to our cells’ ability to maintain this state is making sure to keep the composition of the extracellular fluid dramatically different from the fluid in the cell.  But it’s important that this fluid is neither too concentrated nor too diluted, but, like most things in the human body, it needs to be “juuusssst right.”

Too much water and too little sodium can lead to cell death (apoptosis) via plasmoptisis.  Not good.

Too much sodium and too little water, as is found with dehydration, can lead to cell death via plasmolysis.  Not good.

But in today’s dehydration-phobic, water-worshipping, compulsive drinking society with Big Gulps, coffee and tea breaks, and Supersized drinks – not to mention health authorities making us all “scared saltless,” I strongly suspect that the problem of too little sodium and too much fluid is the more common problem.

Of course, anyone reading this blog is probably not part of the Big Gulp demographic.  I don’t think many Big Gulpers read a lot of stuff about health on the internet.

Unfortunately, the very health-conscious often bring about even worse consequences for themselves in this regard because they are passionately eating a “whole foods diet,” which invariably has a much higher water content.  Meanwhile, they are drinking lots of water because they think it is good for them (water indeed is a culturally iconic symbol of health), and are often drinking other health tonics like Kombucha or green tea or coconut water or lots of fruit, vegetable, and “green” juices to excess along with it.  And, since salt is of course “toxic” in the extremely confused minds of most health authorities, the negative effects of the misguided practices above are often magnified.  It’s all a terrible combination.  The more of the quintessential health foods you eat (fruits, vegetables, root vegetables, porridges, soups, salads, milk), the LESS you should drink.

To complicate things even further, the older you get, if you lose weight, exercise excessively, or if you have a low metabolism (naturally, or flat out induced by your ingestive behavior and lifestyle), your osmoregulation – your body’s ability to manage the balance of electrolytes and water in and out of the cell, becomes increasingly worse.

I believe this is why “mistakes” like overdrinking or dehydration have an increasingly noticeable effect the lower your metabolic rate goes.  As has been found in the elderly, bouts of hyponatremia (low sodium relative to water) and hypernatremia (low water relative to sodium) are increasingly common, and fluid intake and nutrition in general has to be closer to ideal to keep from causing problems.

While there is a lot more to it, and a lot of subtle details discussed in <Eat for Heat, the general premise is that, by keeping the concentration of the extracellular fluid closer to being “jusssst right,” we are able to maintain a more balanced and ultimately more healthful state throughout each and every day.  To keep it just right, one only need to do some experimentation with the relative proportion of food and salt to fluids.

More food and salt and less fluid = concentrating the extracellular fluid.

More fluids and less food and salt = diluting the extracellular fluid.

That’s an oversimplification but it’s not far off from the stone cold truth.  You can monitor simple biofeedback to guide you to the ideal composition of your extracellular fluid – keeping some yellow color in your urine at all times, making sure hands and feet are warm and toasty, and keeping body temperature above 98 degrees F minimum is a great start.  If you feel excessive heat in the hands and feet, have dark urine or haven’t urinated in really long time, feel your heart beating exceptionally hard, have restless legs when you try to go to sleep, feel really thirsty, feel really tired, or maybe have a headache – it’s time to have some more water-rich food and fluids and go easy on the heavy foods and salt.

In short, perfect hydration is a tremendous asset – metabolically and otherwise.  But most people don’t know what that is, and think that if they just keep on chugging more juice and water and peeing clear every hour they will achieve it.  In actuality, this just causes a state of progressive overhydration/dilution, which can have some majorly devastating consequences.

Our extracellular fluid really is like soup.  It’s nice and salty like our sweat or our tears.  You don’t want to water it down or fail to season it up right.

Ultimately, our body is not 60% water.  It’s more like 60% soup, and the most important soup is the ¼ of total body soup portion that comprises the extracellular fluid – its composition greatly impacting the quality of the soup in the cells.  Think of it in those terms and you’ll already be a huge step ahead of everyone playing the health-experimentation game.

You should suspect that you are chronically diluting your body fluid if you frequently suffer from…

  • Cold hands and feet
  • Low body temperature
  • Frequent urination, clear urination, or urination at night
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Nightmares or night terrors
  • Seizures
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Dry skin
  • Dry mouth, mood changes, and other symptoms that many falsely believe to be “hypoglycemia”
  • Heart palpitations or otherwise abnormal heart rhythms
  • Strong cravings for salty foods
  • Low blood pressure, dizzy spells, or episodes of blurred vision

Find out for yourself how much you should be drinking, what you should be drinking, how much salt you should be eating, etc.  Don’t let an outside source tell you how much of these things you should be consuming.  It is unknowable and highly individual.

That is all.

Links:

Cell Death

Body Water

Hyponatremia and Hypernatremia in the Elderly

82 Comments

  1. Makes total sense. I know you avoid supplement taking, but I ordered some T3-T4 meds from Thailand. They are called Thiroyd by Big Pharma off Amazon. I have temps in the 96 range usually and my feet would actually hurt from being cold. After 4 days of taking one pill in the morning my morning temps were 97.9. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on Stop The Thyroid Madness which influenced me to start the meds. They are supposed to be the natural dessicated hormone. I just got tired of waiting to warm up. Now I hope to see 15 pounds come off easily. Will keep you all posted.

    Reply
    • STTM made me crazy. Those people are incredibly dogmatic. When I was reading that group I was obsessed with fine-tuning my thyroid, I wasted tons of $$ going to several expensive doctors and bugging them for all sorts of tests. I kept taking T3 even though I had a bad time with it, just because STTM says you have to have T3. It made half my hair fall out and I KEPT taking it. drrr. When you still have problems with T3 they say it’s rT3. After that it’s adrenals and you have to find some cortisol. It’s a deep rabbit hole over there. I am not trying to discourage you, maybe the Thiroyd will work for you, but please don’t get obsessed with STTM like I did.

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      • Tierney, my experience does not mimic yours exactly, but my experience with T3 was equally traumatic. I cannot say that it is bad for everybody, but people NEED to be really careful with it. It can screw you up big time. We see the same failed feedback system over at STTI as we see in the rest of the alternative health community, i.e. “If the protocol doesn’t work, it means that you are doing it wrong.”

        What I was afraid of happening appears to be happening. People are JUMPING off of the nutrient bandwagon to the metabolic bandwagon blindly. Now metabolism is the “in thing” and everybody is in a mad rush to get it up, “by any means necessary”. That means resorting to thyroid medication, even when it might not be appropriate.

        My advice to Ginderella is if the T3 REALLY helps you continue it. However, I would ditch it at the first sign of problems (unless you are being closely followed by an MD whom you trust). Don’t let the opinions of the “faithful” over at STTI over-ride your body cues.

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        • yes, my other problem was that T3 did make me drop weight, so that was another reason I took so long to stop it.

          Ug, I was also taking TONS of iron at their advice, I mean TONS. I was trying to find a Dr to give me an iron transfusion at one point. I’m not anemic at all, but my ferritin was on the low end. That was one of their reasons why I didn’t tolerate T3. Hopefully I didn’t really fuck up my internal organs with all that iron.

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          • Yes, the weight-loss I feel is what sucks a lot of people into Paleo, as well. They see that weight loss and are willing to look askance on the other problems.

            How long did you take iron? I am sure that you didn’t hurt yourself too much.

            I don’t know what to believe any more. I want to believe science, but so many studies are skewed nowadays, and I don’t have the background to evaluate them anyway. I want to believe other people’s anecdotes, but I don’t know whom to believe. I am of the opinion that most success stories on the Internet are examples of people wanting to dupe themselves. No matter the merits of Matt’s approach, I fully expect that to happen here, too. That stresses the need for bold, honest N=1…my own experience.

          • I took about 200-250 mg iron/day for about 1.5 years. My ferritin never really responded to it either. Of course then the problem was lack of stomach acid that would help me absorb iron, blah blah blah…. that was about the time I had the nervous breakdown, ended up on Lexapro and Xanax and gave up on the thyroid rabbit-hole (other than checking my TSH and making adjustments to my Synthroid a few times/year.)

            My liver and kidney function all checks out good so I think I’m probably ok from it. Still, the T3 and all the iron were a couple of the dumber things I’ve done.

            I think the reason there are so many success stories on the internet is not that people are duping themsleves, although that happens too, but that they are short-term success stories. Things often make you feel better for a while and then start to fail. I don’t know why. Maybe most people just have too many weak links in the chain.

          • I took T3 once a few years ago for a supposed rT3 issue (actually probably just stress!), and my heart raced like nothing I ever experienced before. That was enough for me.

          • Are you two talking about cytomel T3 only or the dessicated thyroid? I’ve switched from synthroid to dessicated (thailand as well– no doctors to prescribe armour) which has some t3 in it, but still is mostly t4. Cytomel is something they give patients in a myxedema coma to give them a jump start– it’s a pretty intense drug in large amounts. I’m not sure it would be appropriate for someone who needs a steady replacement of hormone. I find switching to the dessicated has improved my energy levels a great deal but I can’t say I’ve had any miraculous weight loss or transformation; but, frankly, I’m not in particularly bad shape either. (Though I would love to lose 25lbs!)

          • Unfortunately I have a problem with T3 in any form. I started out with very low doses of Cytomel, like 2.5 ug. I think the most I ever worked up to was 20ug. At that point my hair was falling out like crazy and I had anxiety attacks (but I had lost 20 pounds!) I went off it and later tried Nature-throid thinking maybe the dessicated would be more “balanced”- same thing. I have also tried an OTC bovine dessicated product and had increased hair loss after just 2 days. So it seems any kind of T3 just aggravates whatever is going on. I know a lot of people have good results with it though.

          • Hi, I’m curious @Thomas Sealy, what’s the problem with the Paleo diet? Btw I’ve been on Armour Thyroid for years and feel 100% better than before.

  2. About 4 months ago, I was dog-sitting a 9 year old rottweiler on a calorie-restricted diet, who is also on antidepressants. He could not regulate his fluid intake, he just didn’t seem to know when to stop drinking. He also has IBS-like issues and panic attacks which result in accidents. Anyway, I got saddled with him for 2 weeks and decided that I would increase his food by about 25%. I didn’t want to push his diet too far because of my own concerns about bloat. Within a couple days he miraculously was able to regulate his own water intake and his digestive track seemed a lot more normal. Anxiety attacks disappeared too. Since giving him pills is a nightmare where he tries to chew on me, I just decided to not bother. That didn’t work out so well though, as he then had extra energy and started lunging at dogs on the sidewalk. So the experiment wasn’t a total success, but I thought that his inability to regulate water intake when calories were too low was worth noting.

    Reply
    • Wow that is the story of my dog’s life!
      My 6 year old sweetheart has been diagnosed with depression for the past 2 years. He is always napping around the house. My mom only feeds him 1 cup of dry food a day, because he needs to be “in shape.” His dog brother who belongs to a family friend, is hyperactive and wants to hump the shit out of everything all the time, is on the opposite diet. The family always leaves the food bowl full for him and feeds him human food whenever he looks at them. (I’m telling you these are some cute dogs.) He does look a little heavier than my slim dog. But they are both so cute it doesn’t really matter!

      My mom also severely restricts my and my sisters’ diets, so much that we have had bouts of anorexia due to my poor body image. She never restricted my brother’s, and well damn he eats a ton.

      Reply
  3. Hey Matt,
    Is signs of swelling in the feet / base of toes a sign of dehydration or too much sodium? Can’t remember if you have acblog post already addressing this.

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    • I am interested in the same thing.

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  4. Matt what is your opinion on blood tests for sodium and potassium? Are they useful? Are the normal lab ranges ok or too loose (as STTM believes)?

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  5. “In short, perfect hydration is a tremendous asset – metabolically and otherwise. But most people don’t know what that is, and think that if they just keep on chugging more juice and water and peeing clear every hour they will achieve it. In actuality, this just causes a state of progressive overhydration/dilution, which can have some majorly devastating consequences.”

    A year ago, I started feeling bad, off and on, over 3-4 days. I would feel tired, achy, fatigued and even shaky and sweaty for a few hours at a time. But then I would feel fine for several hours. The bouts of feeling bad would get progressively worse, so I ended up in the ER. They diagnosed me as being severely dehydrated, but couldn’t explain why that would be so since I had been (for at least the last 7 years) compulsive about getting my 64 oz of water every day. The phlebotomist tried 4 times to get an i.v. in my collapsed veins and eventually had to resort to a child size needle and tube to get one going. They wanted to CT scan my abdomen but I refused and went home as I was feeling a little better and figured I could “hydrate” myself at home – problem solved.

    I came home and started drinking. A LOT. Some Gatorade, but mostly glass after glass of water. I wasn’t hungry at all, so I just drank.

    Two days after I left the ER, I was back and willing to let them do whatever it took to figure out what was wrong with me and fix it, as I was delirious, shaking and sweating and barely able to hold my head up with a fever of 103.4. They scanned my abdomen and told me that my appendix had burst – probably 2 days before, when I had originally gone to the ER.

    They slit me open (vertical abdominal incision) and did their best to clean out all that nasty infected appendix juice. I was on i.v. antibiotics for the entire week I stayed in the hospital. They sent me home with oral antibiotics for another week. But within a few days of finishing the oral antibiotics at home, my temperature was back up to 103, so back to the hospital I went. Back on the i.v. antibiotics. Another drainage tube in my abdomen to encourage the grossness to get out. Two more weeks in the hospital trying to make sure all infection was gone.

    Of course, this whole time, I was continuing to drink mostly water (I was still dehydrated!) and not eating because of nausea and and generally not being hungry. I lost 25 pounds in one month. The staff had such a hard time starting and maintaining an i.v. that they had to put a port in me to deliver drugs and fluids.

    There were so many signs that something was seriously wrong, but unfortunately everybody, including me, thought it was just a nasty, unrelenting infection. When I look back now, I can see that I had forced my metabolism and cell function so low through hyponatremia that I was not able to fight even a weak, isolated infection. Since then, through my really slow recovery and subsequent experimentation with fluid consumption, I have become convinced that I did not need to suffer like that. To be honest, I’m not sure if I could have warded off the appendicitis completely, but I do feel sure it was not necessarily doomed to burst. And I know that I could have recovered better, more quickly and more naturally if my body had not been flooded with water.

    Also, I wonder how to treat dehydration caused by exceptional events, like severe infections. I was prone to dehydration in my pregnancies also, even while drinking my dutiful 64 oz of water. I’ve never heard anyone else with this problem – a sudden, acute susceptibility to dehydration because of physical stress. So of course I’ve also never heard what the best way to deal with it is, either.

    Anyway, just thought I’d share my experience with dehydration/hyponatremia.

    P.S. One thing I learned in my extended hospital stay is that the nurses bring you a 24 oz cup full of ice water at the beginning of each shift, whether you ask for it or not. Not sure what that’s all about…

    Reply
  6. Oh and follow up question: can one be both dehydrated AND hyponatremic at the same time? How could I continue to be dehydrated even while drinking copious amounts of water?

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    • I am curious about that too. I almost always have problems with blood draws, my veins are very tiny, collapse easily, and the blood comes too slow- all signs of dehydration despite the fact that I drink to thirst. I have to REALLY pound water to the point of being uncomfortable to have a good blood draw. Yet my tissues seem to store a lot of water in them. I’ve been told by a couple of MDs that I have slight edema. I have never restricted salt, although I am not sure what my sources of potassium are. I have a banana normally in the morning, is that good enough?

      Reply
    • By the way your story is crazy, sorry you went through all that!

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    • I’m guessing that the answer is yes you can be both and that the solution may be to eat/drink more salt so the body can actually hang on to the water and use it. So in cases of actual dehydration, drinking a rehydration-type fluid, soda or milk instead of plain water, plus eating plenty of food and salt makes sense. I’m sure Matt has more specific recommendations in his book though.

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      • This is not addressed in the book, no. Only either/or.

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        • I have the same veins thing. I think this is another missing puzzle piece, thanks Matt and Danyelle. I can’t skip a meal or I’m climbing the walls, but the other day was stuck with nothing to drink and only a few salty biscuits and cream cheese to get me through 11 gruelling, hot hours before supper, and to my surprise it worked a treat. The not drinking, plus the salt. Wasn’t bothered by thirst, tiredness, or grumpiness. All that only started after I had a cup of tea!

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  7. Matt — what are your thoughts on hypoglycemia? In Eat to Heat and this blog post you seem to be somewhat dismissive of it. I’m asking because I get lightheaded when I don’t eat for four or five hours, and then eating makes that feeling go away. My assumption has been that this is hypoglycemia.

    I had been avoiding sugar because that’s what the conventional wisdom seems to be for that disease. Eat to Heat has given me the courage to include sugar back in my diet.

    Reply
    • My “hypoglycemia” symptoms are caused by lack of salt. I realized this when (during my disastrous experiment with eating by RBTI recommendations) I restricted salt and went on the worst blood sugar roller coaster of my life. And I was restricting fluids at that point, too. When I stopped doing that, I salted to taste and realized how quickly my hypoglycemia just fixed itself.

      Now if I feel my blood sugar getting low I eat salty, starchy stuff and it goes away. Make sure your meals are salty enough. I drink a decent amount of water still (to thirst) – the important factor is having enough salt on my food.

      Reply
      • Look up the symptoms of hyponatremia on Wikipedia. Then look up the symptoms of hypoglycemia on Wikipedia. You’ll see it’s impossible to distinguish the two. I would guess that 9 times out of 10 when someone is having what they feel is “hypoglycemia” it is actually “hyponatremia,” or at least a very mild and noticeable manifestation of it.

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  8. Hi Matt and Friends.

    It’s great that you are fine-tuning your recommendations on maintaining proper hydration. I guess I need to know sooner rather than later though how to gauge water intake when thirst isn’t really about drinking more water. I tend to a rich diet (I don’t buy lowfat anything), and bringing in all the extra carbs this year has been life-changing. BUT, I did end up with two (that I recognized) kidney stone episodes.The latter taking me to the ER, but it passed? on its own. I’m guessing because I don’t feel anything anymore when I pee.I notice it takes a long time between pee stops, like 4 or 5 hours. I do feel like I’m thirsty a lot, but really for sweet beverages, especially after eating sweet fatty foods like ice cream. I’m still having 2-4 oclock wake up episodes (it’s worse if I have water with dinner or before bed). I’m really liking ice water, and I remember Lita Lee saying something about that being associated with a problematic fat digester. Coincidently i’ve been getting accupuncture treatments weekly b/c she saw that there was something stagnating my kidney function which backed up my liver function. Any help would be great!

    Reply
    • You should just google “magnesium kidney stone”! I think you’ll get your answer. I wrote about this a couple of posts back but I was actually diagnosed with mag deficiency and get this I was actually taking magnesium unfortunately most forms of may are pretty laxative, so you really need to do some experimenting with different forms in order to find one that doesn’t just make you go all the time.

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  9. BTW, it’s sad that just this morning I catch a ‘new’ report on an ATL popular radio station that ‘too much salt in a child’s diet may lead to obesity’. Austrailian researchers discovered that salty diets lead to too much ingestion of sweet calorically rich drinks which is associated with weight gain. That was their argument. Sad because so many moms will take this to heart. Also on the Today show, they featured a 9-year old girl who lost 50+ lbs. They said her diet was fixed at 20% fat and exercise has become a daily thing. Walking four miles with the family, and now running treadmill at the home. They treated her like a superstar. :(

    Reply
    • I actually mention the high salt/soft drink combination in the book, and the potential problem there. How could you honestly blame salt though? That’s just messed up.

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    • Yikes, that is a dangerous headline. Too little salt in a child’s diet is probably more likely to lead to obesity IMO.

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    • I saw that story, too! Crazy, they talked about what an inspiration she was. Now that she exercises extensively and watches what she eats so carefully at the age of 9!!!

      Reply
  10. On the treadmill, like a lab rat..
    a child for hell sake, she is supposed to play,
    not getting brain dead from fucking cardio.

    Reply
  11. While food and salt vs. fluids is a nice simplification, it reminds me how you can’t live on sea water if you don’t have fresh water, as it will dehydrate you further. (Likewise with urine.) So it’s more fundamentally a matter of the concentration of the fluid. So you could have say a very salty soup and it would be balanced or even dehydrating. I don’t know if something salty enough to be balanced or dehydrating would be palatable though. Do we know in teaspoons or tablespoons how much salt to a cup or quart of water we’d need for a fluid to be balanced or dehydrating instead of hydrating?

    Reply
    • 9 grams of salt per liter is considered to be the “isotonic” standard.

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      • Not exactly a formula for a delicious drink, is it?

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        • In China you can buy salted soda and it is quite delicious.

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          • How many grams of salt are in it?

  12. Talking about high-water content food reminds of Fit for Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond. They were all about “high-water content food.” Last I saw, Harvey didn’t look like the picture of health.

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  13. You seem to focus mostly on water and sodium. How important do you think the ratio of sodium to potassium is?

    I feel like too much sudium in comparison to potassium can lead to restlesslegs with me. If I eat a salty in the evening I tend to get restless legs. Even if drink so much that I start to pee clear again, it won’t go away (guess because it doesnt change the sodium-potassium ratio). But having something rich in potassium helps, like a banana or some OJ.

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    • It’s definitely a big factor. Usually the weaker the metabolism the more I’m inclined to believe the need for a higher sodium to potassium ratio is in order. Cool to know that potassium-rich foods eliminate the oversalted symptoms. I’ll start paying closer attention to that as well.

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      • We’re back at the macrobiotic diet… drinking half a cup of bancha and balancing sodium and potassium :D I wonder how the RBTI figures into this. Isn’t it supposed to be all about maintaining the perfect cell environment? Beddoe writes something to that effect. It seems like you wouldn’t approve of the RBTI recommendations (limited salt intake and scheduled drinking) anymore.

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  14. totally out of subject , just read me some new Jack Kruse .. Always worth mentioning.
    The man is baron Munchausen
    reincarnated and a whack out of his head, but he does takes people
    Places.. Sorry, i cant stop laughing.. Some of them coments are seriously demented..

    http://www.jackkruse.com/does-where-you-live-actually-matter/

    Reply
    • [quote]Remember, we are human be-ings………not human do-ings first and foremost! [/quote]

      Thanks Dr. Kruse. That new-age cliche is ONLY about 30 years old. Jack Kruse can take you many places, but a Carnival Cruise is not one of them :)

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      • I thought “the simple answer is that the electrons from your food are codified in your DNA” was probably the best part. wow!

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  15. I have some soup issues here. I get the eat when you’re cold and drink when you’re warm with it’s specifics according to the book. However, I always seem to go from one extreme to the other. I manage to get all toasty and warm, but then get a brain headache as if I’m lacking water (pretty sure that’s what it is as urine is super concentrated then). I drink some of juice (sometimes even with a tad of salt), or a tiny bit of water and Bam! Back to freezing fingers. Then I eat something again and the warmth comes back. Sometimes, when I am warm, then I’ll get freezing and without eating, moving or doing anything, I’ll go back to warm. Perhaps my fluids being filtered by my kidneys? Anyways…it’s quite a roller-coaster and wonder if ever I will be able to maintain a constant body temp….anyone have similar experiences? Maybe it takes time too, I’m okay with that.

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    • Hi lucid, it’s all about balance and this changes over time and becomes less roller coaster like. also this is based on how you make use of your body once it “jump starts” the balance and creates cellular activity. It is always in search of balance and pushing in the opposite direction when there are overages. using your body makes up for overages and continues the process. if you put the energy into your cells but then sit at the computer and yell at your kids and stare at your bills piling up throwing balance off everywhere else expect it to be short lived every time you “jump start”.

      Still looking forward to reading the book Matt. I’ve been busy busy, but it is at the top of the list. I’m pretty certain after reading this soup post I too will be kicking myself for not having my balance related posts up. particularly electrolytes fluid and how it relates to fat loss.

      kudos on making # 16 on amazon.

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    • Hi! Just to chime in, i had been on the roller coaster thing for a couple years too. I started making more progress attaining balance by starting the day with a slightly salty breakfast with only a few ounces of liquid. Then i would only drink fluid with snacks or meals for the rest of the day. But far and away the most helpfull thing was not over-compensating. So if my urine gets concentrated, i will eat and drink in small amounts every couple hours until i feel better. Hope that helps. For the sake of comparison , i am 200lbs and all i need to eat for breakfast to prevent a morning crash is a egg sandwich with bacon and about 3-4 ounces of coffee with cream and sugar AFTER i eat. I find that if i start the day with more fluid than that or less starch and salt, i’m screwed for the rest of the day. A lot of fluid to me is 8oz with food. A modest amount by any standard especially for me. Im super active (outdoors job and exercise almost every day) and under a moderate amount of stress. But i find that my job and lifting performance is improved IF i enter into the activity in a pretty concentrated state. Work, for example is a lot more productive when i don’t have to constantly drink and run to the restroom. Keep experimenting, i’m sure you’ll get it in check. It took me maybe a week to get in a comfortable “zone.”

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      • @Carby Rex Kinda OT question but you mentioned having an active outside job….may I ask what it is that you do?

        I’m for about 2years now,trying to get out of wellfare and searching&trying things like crazy to find a paid active job preferrably outside but I’m kinda running out of ideas….and this situation is seriously depressing me.
        I always get the arguments when turned down; I lack proper degree/skills(and am not in financial freedom to do another study), I’m too old:s , I’m too highly educated….and I’m female(which they ofcourse can’t tell me straight up bc that would be ‘discrimanating’ but it’s obvious using some of the BS excuses they use.)

        So,any suggestions (&ideas for types of work) are very welcome! :)

        Reply
        • Hey sorry Dutchie, but i fell into this job. I work in a urban plant nursery. It gets real cold this time of year. I have no practical advice for getting a job outdoors. Just seek out the options around your area i guess. Just remember , the grass is always greener… Being outside day in day out can take a lot outta ya’

          Reply
          • Well,then you’re very lucky that you fell into it!Certainly not something that’ll happen over here,unless ‘you know someone that can get you in”. Not sure what an urban plant nursery is or what’s the equivalent over here…if there;s actually something similar over here.

            What is it exactly that you do on average,if I may ask?

            As far as the grass being greener….I know all about it,bc I work outside at my voluntary job,that’s actually how I discovered I feel better on general doing outside job than working inside,especially mostly sitting or standing around.

    • Same here with the headache. i just now had some apples and almond butter followed by chocolate covered salty pretzels and the headache is lifting. But I’m cold again. Also, my face looks bloated (strangely, my stomach isn’t so much). It feels like I’m snacking constantly…

      Reply
  16. Speaking of diluting. You have diluted your message with so many contrarian tendencies that it would seem that all we need to do is eat salty doughnuts and eat ice cream.
    Have you considered just giving actual advice? Not to avoid stuff, but directing people to what they actually should do. And not specifics, you can make money off of specifics by doing counseling, etc. But just general directions at how everything works. So far, the only thing that came close to that was explanation about cellular fluids. I guess I should eat salty bananas
    I know you like to sell books too, but you don’t give any real bait for that. You just take away information and give nothing in return. “Everyone else is wrong, I’m right, so buy this book to know what’s right.” Nah. All I can think is to write “f*ck you.” (do you have censors?)
    And you might say that you never said “I’m always right” or some stupid thing like that, so I’ll save you the trouble.

    Reply
    • “Have you considered just giving actual advice? Not to avoid stuff, but directing people to what they actually should do. ”
      Hmm, strange, actually he does give actual advice rather than avoiding stuff.

      “I know you like to sell books too, but you don’t give any real bait for that. You just take away information and give nothing in return”
      Ohh, he had been teasing and baiting for quite some time before the release of the book. What is he taking away ?

      Reply
    • Rare, you sure you got the right page?

      Reply
    • What money I would have paid to have a doctor who actually experimented and sought deeper understanding rather than repeating what he learned in a text book! I’ll take a contrarian over a sycophant any day of the week.

      Reply
    • ???

      Your comment suggests that you hadn’t read much else here before commenting.

      Reply
      • Let’s see. The part about how many bad diets there are out there? How Dr. Lustig, or anyone complaining about sugar/fat/carbs is a moron? Ice cream over breast milk? Junk food for diet recovery? Or the RRARF part about just eating a ton of everything until you feel good?
        The last thing that was actually promoted here (other than self) was RBTI. Talk about lemon-worshiping and God-given-number-crazed psychopaths…

        Reply
        • Pal.. picking bit and pieces to construct a monster while the whole theory is
          all good and explaned make me think of all the idiots that scream ” Communism( read apocalypse) is coming” every time someone does a good deed in America.. Read a bit, think a bit.. It wouldnt do you bad. Indignation over
          stuff you dont understand, or at list this is what your writing says
          Is bad for your cortisol production. Farewell..

          Reply
        • Rare,

          “To ‘attack a straw man’ is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and to refute it without ever having actually refuted the original position.”

          You’re analyzing the blog through your impressions of it, not the facts about it. The fact is that Matt backs up all of his opinions with very clear reasoning.

          That doesn’t mean his reasoning is infallible, and you have every right to disagree with his reasoning. But addressing his reasoning is where it’s at — and he does have reasons for recommending foods like ice cream.

          The focal point for a while now has been suppressing stress hormone production through the use of sugar, starch, salt, and saturated fat according to taste, and regulating fluid intake by thirst. The general reasoning behind this is that a body with a regular energy supply with adequate amounts of what it needs will stay primarily in an anabolic state, where the most healing can take place (digestive recovery, building up of bone and muscle, weight loss, etc.).

          – and that biofeedback (taste, thirst) is the best way to regulate this approach, instead of intellectualizing about percentages and ratios and things like that. Typically Matt seems to recommend checking body temperature once in a while as an aid to interpreting biofeedback, e.g., I’ve checked my oral temperature when I’ve been feeling very anxious, panicky, and generally messed up and gotten a temperature of 96 F, and had some baked potatoes with salt and butter to taste or some ice cream to satiety and saw that my cold hands and feet warmed up and I felt calmer, with a corresponding rise in body temperature to around 98.0 to 98.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

          A lot of people heavily restrict sugar and salt in their diets because they think they’re unhealthy. From a metabolic standpoint, restricting them can be much, much more unhealthy than including them to taste, as they both serve to support the metabolism by suppressing stress hormone production and helping cellular energy production.

          This is the gist of what I’m interpreting from Matt’s posts lately. If you want to make some arguments against what he’s saying, that’s the general direction I’d focus on.

          Reply
          • Does it count when you end up utilizing a straw man fallacy by claiming that the opponent is using a straw man fallacy? Strawception?
            You asked me if I’ve read anything in the past 2 years of things posted here, you got your answer. Well gee. Thanks for condescension, I guess?
            Now, Jib’s synthesis did not mention “Water Crazed Culture” or “morons who hate sugar” or idiotic BS like “are you sure you’re on the right page?” or stabs at anyone. Which made the message more concentrated. Thank you.

          • “Are you sure you’re on the right page” seemed to be the most reasonable response. This post is lengthy and gives EXPLICIT INSTRUCTIONS for what to do, and then was criticized by you for not revealing anything or keeping it all a secret to sell books? The post was actually a concise synthesis of what the book is about, given for free. I know it seems like nothing, but THAT IS WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT – NOTHING ELSE. And that’s what makes it good, easy to apply, and instantly effective.

          • If that’s all that is in the book, that’s disappointing. I guess I know what I was misunderstanding now.

          • Yeah, I would recommend spending your money on a more complicated book with a lot more information.

          • LMAO!! Yeah, I have spent a lot of money on more complicated books with a lot of information, and all I got in return was a smaller bank account with no REAL information! :(

          • Rare,

            Have you ever heard of the Perfect Health Diet? I’ve only read a little bit about it, but there is some good objective criticism of Ray Peat’s ideas about sugar there.

            http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2012/01/is-it-good-to-eat-sugar/

            I think the direction Matt’s been going in lately has been less focused on nutrient and food specifics and more about the roots of health: mainly hormonal balance. The general criticism of mainstream health culture lately has been that all the focus on nutrition and water intake and ‘healthy living’ has been missing the boat on hormonal balance, the argument there being that all the nutrient dense food in the world isn’t going to really help you at all if your body chemistry isn’t in a state where it’s going to do anything with it.

            I take a good amount of supplements, including A, D, E, and K2, with some occasional trace minerals and blackstrap molasses as well as prescription L-methylfolate and some other B-vitamins (P-5-P, niacin and methylcobalamin) for my MTHFR gene mutation. I avoid polyunsaturated fats in favor of saturated fats like coconut oil and grass-fed butter, have primarily potatoes, fruit, pure fruit juice and organic raw honey for carbohydrates and while I eat refined sugar, I keep it lower in proportion to more nutrient dense sources of it, and supplement the meat I eat with collagen hydrolysate.

            To most people, this is going to go in one ear and out the other, and the underlying message about improving health is lost. The approach I’ve seen here at 180 Degree Health is just that — 180 Degrees. This is more of a conceptual blog that makes you think for yourself and apply the concepts you read about here instead of making explicit dietary recommendations, although as Matt pointed out, he does make general recommendations and doesn’t leave his readers with no ground at all to plant their feet on. I like to think of it as teaching people how to fish instead of giving them a fish.

            And I do have to say that while I still take supplements and do some ‘health nerd’ things, this blog has really helped me a lot. Not by encouraging me to just ditch everything else I’ve learned with reckless abandon, but by encouraging me to look more at the underlying issues and question whether or not I’m paying too much attention to some things and not enough to others.

            e.g., focusing on avoiding polyunsaturated fats to the point where I won’t eat a slice of pizza at someone’s house, even if my hands and feet are freezing cold and I’m feeling really spaced out. I don’t think that’s healthy, and these are the kinds of issues Matt’s been writing about for a long time, and it’s a message I really appreciate.

            *And not only that, but the idea that ‘sub-optimal’ foods can actually be optimal in certain situations, such as getting your body out of an energy crisis as quickly as possible. Again, whether you agree or disagree, it’s a very interesting idea to consider.

            And yes, a strawman is still a strawman if the strawman is accusing someone else of setting up a strawman. I’m sorry if I misinterpreted what you were saying. I thought you were saying that this blog didn’t have any valuable information to offer, which is a point I disagree with, and that argument is what I based my comment on.

            All that aside, there’re still a lot of questions in regards to what’s behind a lot of modern health problems, and I’m excited to see the development in the research that evaluates all these things. A blessing and a curse :P

          • Thanks Jib
            good overall summations of what Matt is getting across..

            I find it useful.

        • Rare,

          I could never formulate a synthesis as well as Jib here below, but I can tell you that my comment was not utter confusion – that I have been following this blog for about a year and it is the reason why I have gotten my health back in too many ways to list here. My questions and concerns have ALWAYS been answered here though direct responses by Matt, or other members, like Jib, who with their own words or sometimes experience, give direction to the ideas discussed here. The examples may be harder to understand for some people who have not experienced the negative effects of starvation on the body, but for those who have, Matt’s research makes more sense than any advice I’ve gotten from medical and naturopathic doctors alike.

          Reply
          • I will add that Matt’s just general advice about non-restrictive eating helped me get over the rest of my hang-ups about food so I could completely heal my metabolism. Even without the specifics (which he does give), his “eat the food” anti-dieting advice is golden.

  17. Thanks Chief! I do agree that it must take time. I have been working at all this for months, almost a year and have seen changes happen slowly, but did end up being permanent – like mad indigestion after ice cream. None of that now, but it took months of eating the ice cream to get rid of that.

    Good insight about losing the momentum with the energy. Very luckily, I am grateful to have a job that permits me to move around and I have very low stress this year in my life and time to indulge in activities I enjoy. Thank you a million times for your support.

    Reply
  18. I’m wondering about my daughter – only 13 months old, who loves to drink. Lots of breastmilk, lots of water. I used to think that a baby would be able to self-regulate, never having been told that water is good, but now I’m not so sure. She seems to be cooler than me most of the time and suffers from eczema (dairy related?). She does eat salty food too, but mostly prefers foods with high water content, like tomatoes, cucumber and fruit. How do I know if she’s getting too much water and how would I change it?

    Reply
  19. Ok, one other thing I’m wondering is: what about a situation where you need both salt and water? You only seem to discuss relative quantities, but surely absolute quantities matter too?

    Reply
  20. Most mornings I start the day with juice of half a lemon in warm water as a cleansing sort of thing.

    I’m no longer phobic about soft drinks and seem to feel better drinking Sarsaparilla, Ginger Beer and Gatorade than water. Raw milk with salt and molasses is quite refreshing too, although can make me cold depending when I consume.

    Coconut water doesn’t do me good (high potassium). Still drink some water, but only half a glass at a time once or twice a day close to or after meals.

    Also find drinking with meals better than on its own. Tried some pickling salt in Coke – not bad, actually, lol. Gets all fizzy and stuff :D

    Reply
  21. I’m 100% convinced now that slow and relaxed breathing is a very important factor for getting healthy. Here’s something interesting about breathing and craving junk food:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxY9HxczCgc
    (The device mentioned is supposed to help train slow and relaxed breathing.)
    Maybe it’s really like that… those craving and eating healthy foods are healthier than those craving and eating junk food, but those craving junk food and eating healthy foods are killing themselves?

    Reply
  22. One thing which really works very well for me to make me warm and toasty hands and feet is umeboshi, this super salty sour japanese pickled plum… just wanted to share ir, today i ate just a half of one of those small things today for lunch with my veggies and meat and voilá, my always cold extremities are still super warm!!! (I ate more than 2 hours ago) and I feel so great, not sleepy, not tired, not drained as usual!!

    Reply
    • I’ll try that Eri! I’ve noticed the same effect when I eat Bubbie’s pickles (very salty salt brine). Would be nice to have something else too…

      Reply
  23. So glad I just got around to buying the book!

    Reply
  24. I did the umeboshi thing today again… man, it really works for me!!! I am so happy… I have spent tons of time analizing what I eat in the last 2 years of my life, been through anorexia/bulima or whatever, tried paleo, restrictive diet, lost weight and gained back.. anyways, I think I screwed up my metabolism, because I never had digestion issues, constipation or fat gaining just because of eating normal foods (normal I mean, everything, junk food maybe once a week or les, but bread, sugar, corn, dairy, olive oil, cake… anything) and now I have issues.
    I have always been a cold hands/cold feet lady (as well as cold nose :D), bt after all this diet and food craziness it became worse… so i am really happy to notice that some foods, like umeboshi, not only aids my poor digestion of raw vegetables (a simple tomatoe salad makes me feel stuffed, bloated and sometimes painful for a few hours), but also makes me warm… yay! =)

    Reply
  25. Matt, Thanks so much for Eat for Heat! I had no idea I was overly diluted myself, as it were. I have a blood sodium of 139, potassium 3.8, but every time i would drink plain water, my hands and feet get really cold and i feel a little dizzy. Soon after I would get a terrible migraine (every single day). I am severly hypometabolic and trying to recover from the low carb diet (it almost killed me) and still have many debilitating symptoms (horrible insomnia, hypogylcemia, heart pounding, low blood pressure, dry skin, low thyroid, digestion trouble, aches and pains, hair thinning, migraines, etc.) So…I got a refractometer, but my readings have been about 5. Urine is almost clear but cloudy, which I assume since I am limited water and only drinking salted greens juice, soda, or electrolyte powdered-water, that I am wasting minerals, salt in my urine. How on earth do I make this stop? I know my cells are dehydrated because as soon as I have a cup of water I immediately have to pee, and my eyelids/face are swollen daily. Limiting my water intake has gotten rid of my migraines, so I think I’m on to something, but I thought surely my refractometer would say I was at 0 or 1. Like others, once I finally get to sleep, I always wake up at 4 a.m. and can’t get back. Help?!

    Reply
  26. wow wow this is fascinating. I too sip all day. coffee, tea, water… plus low carb = cold hands and feet. they make fun of me at work b/c i always have the lil heater on. fast forward, less water and more food = no more heater. now my assistant asks to use it, i want to point her to this site :P crazy how habit forming things like drinking water even if we are not thirsty become. My question is – is it dangerous not to “re-hydrate” after a sweaty workout? Lately i haven’t been eating at night, so just a few sips of water to get down my magnesium supps before bed. BTW – sleeping like a baby now until my alarm wakes me up vs waking up at all crazy hours of the night / morning few weeks ago. <3

    Reply
  27. Hi Matt,
    I am part way through readin Eat for Heat and getting some great advice already – thank you. I have one question about over hydration – I am almost definitely over hydrating my body most of the time and I regularly use body composition weighing scales. Am I right to think that my fat percentage will appear lower than it actually is if I am over hydrated? Does this even apply first thing in the morning? Also, will my overall weight be affected by being over hydrated? It’d be good to know so that if there are changes in the readings when I start to drink less fluid I know that it’s the fluid rather than a change in my actual weight or body fat. I’d be grateful for any thoughts on this.

    Thanks
    Clare

    Reply
  28. I started in on the water kick in the late 90s, and began carrying a water bottle and drinking a lot of green tea. I did this because I felt bad about not drinking water (I might have drank like one glass) in the 80s. I can’t believe all these years I was right. I still drink too much, way more than I ever did growing up.

    Reply
  29. Been trying this and having great results. Usually I get tired very easily and am lacking in energy, but ever since limiting my fluid intake to almost nothing it’s been a completely different story.

    Only problem so far is that craving for drinks of course. Which my body might not actually need at the time. It’s been very strange, but I’ll go the whole day without drinking anything..and then if I even drink half a cup of water I will crash. Tried this with soda water mixed with juice (just a personal thing) and it’s also made me crash. However I had a sugary grape soda last night, and I felt fine afterwards. I also tried the same today with Dr. Pepper and was fine afterwards. Not sure what to make of this, but I guess I’ll need to keep on experimenting for now.

    Also loving the increase in body heat. Usually freezing all day in the winter. Thanks a lot for the advice!

    Reply

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