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Drink eight glasses of water per day! What does that mean and where did that number come from? How big are the glasses? What if you weigh 103 pounds, do you still have to drink eight whole glasses of water every day? What if you haven’t broken a sweat all day, still eight glasses?

For years I’ve been a huge proponent of water consumption. Water, over the past decade, has comprised close to 90% of my liquids. There have been smoothie phases and juicing phases along the way, I had a brief stint as the ‘teamaster,? and I used to gulp OJ by the quart at one point, but water has always been the mainstay throughout. I’ve had filtered water, bottled spring water, and have even placed signs and pictures on my water bottles to give it good ?vibrations. I’ve even taken to drinking unfiltered natural mountain river water ? the kind we are warned to filter or treat to avoid giardia and other demonic creatures. I’ve also switched from plastic bottles which leach carcinogenic pthalines to stainless steel and glass.

But nothing has kept water from being what it is ? one of the most nutritionally devoid beverages on earth.

Now I’m not saying don’t drink it. What I am saying is don’t get so freakin? excited about it being the giver of health like I did for an entire decade — chugging in excess of a gallon a day. Water has its drawbacks. One is that it dilutes your digestive enzymes; so the worst time to drink water is during and immediately after meals (this explains the indigestion that I’ve suffered only after drinking water during the past two summers due to my highly active summer job that requires drinking a lot of water). Drinking excess water flushes valuable minerals and electrolytes, which almost all of us are deficient in, out through the urine. Water also causes the body to panic in an attempt to maintain biochemical homeostasis when you flood your system with several huge gulps. And are you ready for this? Too much water dehydrates your skin, cells, and digestive tract.

How is that possible? Have you ever gotten out of the shower in winter time and watched your skin crust over with dryness? How about trying to use water to moisten your chapped lips? Water makes these conditions worse. To moisten skin and lips you use what? Oil-based lotion and greasy lip stuff. For moist healthy skin, an efficient, smoothly gliding lubricated digestive tract, and plump, vibrant, hydrated healthy cells you need utilizable fat, fat, fat.

Now of course you need liquid too. A good rule of thumb they say is to get half your body weight in fluid ounces daily (i.e. 80 ounces, or 2.5 quarts if you weigh 160). But this means fluid ounces from all sources ? not just from water alone! The best sources of liquids are raw fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes and cucumbers, unsweet fresh vegetable juices, and unpasteurized whole milk. With an abundant amount of these foods and beverages in your diet, you will be better nourished and greatly reduce the need for water unless you sweat heavily during the day. The water that you do need is best consumed at least an hour after eating, first thing in the morning, or during and after exercise.

Some liquids don’t count; however, because they dehydrate the body. Those include sweet pasteurized fruit juices like good ole? OJ, coffee, alcohol, caffeinated tea, diet drinks, and any sugar-sweetened drink. Avoid all of these as much as possible for an endless number of reasons.

It’s also been suggested by the ?gurus? of the Weston A. Price Foundation that lacto-fermented beverages make great hydrating, electrolyte mineral-rich drinks. Kombucha, beet kvass (the juice of lacto-fermented beets made just like sauerkraut), Rejuvelac (lacto-fermented grain water more or less), and others are worth experimenting with. In fact, the newest electrolyte sports drink is none other than Pickle Juice, and you can make your own homemade lacto-fermented variety with my basic lacto-fermented pickle recipe. Dude I’m not making this up. Professional athletes are really drinking pickle juice.

Coconut water ? juice from the young green coconut, for those who have access to it, is also a fantastic hydrator. They do sell young coconuts for drinking at major health food stores like Wild Oats and Whole Foods nationwide. Best consumed with a complete meal to offset its sugariness.

In summary, humans, throughout history drank water when?nothing else was available! Water is not an ideal hydrator. Trying to ?cleanse? your body with excess water cleanses out minerals and not toxins. Fats, not water, bind with toxins to flush them out while nourishing the body with the ultimate warriors against degenerative disease. When food is present in the stomach, water reduces the efficiency of your digestion (and nothing in regards to health is more important than proper digestion ? nothing). So drink, enjoy, and be nourished by magnificent cool water, one of our most fundamental and basic human needs, but don’t overdo it, especially when most water available today is compromised by chemicals that leach from plumbing pipes, holding tanks, plastic bottles, etc. or is treated with chlorine and sometimes even fluoride. The liquids found in raw foods, whether eaten whole or in the form of a fresh squeezed juice or glass of milk, are a more than adequate substitute for much of your water consumption and are more chemically in balance with your own biochemistry.

The bulk of this information comes from my own experience, and the pioneering work of Konstantin Monastyrsky, Aajonus Vonderplanitz, and Thomas Cowan ? all Ph.D.’s and not just some whacked out punk kid who thinks he knows everything.

But don’t get the wrong idea about water and proper hydration. If you are thirsty, don’t be afraid of drinking water if nothing else is available. Hydration, above all else is important. I’m not recommending dehyration over water, that is absurd. All creatures consume water. The point was to steer those who drink it all day long as a health tonic of sorts to keep consumption within reason. I love water, and still drink it every day, especially 30 minutes before meals, first thing when I wake up in the morning, and during and after exercise.

This is also not an excuse to drink Coke or something instead of water because “Matt said water isn’t really that good for me anyway, might as well have a Coke.” Also do not attempt to obtain water from sweet fruits like apples and sugary beverages including milk on an empty stomach without solid food. It’s better to drink water than to raise your blood sugar and insulin levels too high. Milk and other alternative beverages and liquid sources are best consumed with meals and can actually aid digestion instead of hindering it.

May 2010 Update – This post is idiotic. Drink water and lots of it!!!? My?inability to drink it without negative recourse was a physical problem on my part and something easily resolved with the right approach.