What Is Optimal Hydration?

Structure Your Water for Better Health

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Featured Blog Preventative Medicine

Optimal hydration is crucial to maintaining every organ and system in your body. Insufficient hydration can have an adverse effect on how your body functions. For example, even a 2% drop in optimal hydration can lead to cloudy thinking and fatigue.

Water is an essential component of every cell in your body. For example, the tissue that makes up your lungs is comprised of nearly 90% water. Your blood is more than 80% water. And, your brain is approximately 70% water.

How Optimal Hydration Helps Your Body

Optimal hydration is necessary for every function in your body. For example, you need to be hydrated in order to eliminate toxins from your body through urination, moving your bowels, and sweating. When you are not properly hydrated, your body reabsorbs toxins. This puts a lot of stress on your liver and can even wreak havoc on your immune system over time.

When you are optimally hydrated, it’s easier for your body to maintain a normal body temperature. And, research shows that your metabolism is also dependent on your level of hydration. When you are optimally hydrated, you burn calories at an accelerated rate.

Optimal hydration is important for your body in many other ways, including helping your body produce digestive enzymes, maintaining healthy skin and hair, absorbing essential vitamins and minerals, carrying nutrients to your cells, preventing constipation, and even lubricating your joints.

5 Signs of Dehydration

Your body works to maintain optimal hydration by using hormones to control how much you urinate and by giving your brain signals that you are thirsty. Yet, most people in our hemisphere live in a state of chronic dehydration. Dehydration happens when you lose more fluid than you take in.

Here are five ways you can tell if you are dehydrated:

  1. Your urine is dark. When you are hydrated, your urine is clear to straw-colored. It becomes progressively darker the more dehydrated you are. So, if your urine is honey-colored to dark-brown that is a sign that you need to hydrate. Remember: certain medications and foods can change the color of your urine.
  2. You’re constipated. Water is important for digestion and elimination. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of constipation. Of course, there are many other factors that can cause constipation, including the food you eat, travel, and certain conditions and medications. If you are staying hydrated, your stool should be soft and you should not have to strain.
  3. You have a dry mouth. A dry mouth is one of the first symptoms indicating that you need to hydrate. A sense of thirst may follow. Not being able to produce tears or sweat is another clear sign of dehydration.
  4. You get frequent headaches. Your brain can actually shrink from dehydration, causing you to get a headache. This is common after exercise when you have been sweating and not replenishing fluids. But, dehydration headaches can occur any time you become dehydrated, and they can be severe. You can tell if a headache is from dehydration because you will experience other signs of dehydration as well.
  5. You are tired. Dehydration can cause muscle fatigue, sleepiness, and general lethargy. When children are dehydrated, they tend to become less active.

People who are chronically dehydrated may suffer from some or all of these five most common symptoms, as well as other symptoms of chronic dehydration, including: indigestion, muscle and joint aches and pains, high blood pressure, fast heartbeat, depression, lack of mental clarity, skin problems, weight issues, and even allergies.

Severe dehydration can cause low blood pressure, dizziness, and confusion, and it can even lead to chronic kidney disease.

How to Stay Optimally Hydrated

Anyone can be at risk for dehydration. But some people are at greater risk than others. For example, your thirst sensation lessons as you grow older, so older people can be at higher risk of dehydration from simply not reading their bodies’ signals. If you take medications or perspire a lot due to exercise, working outdoors, or living in a hot, humid climate, you may be at greater risk of dehydration as well.

Eat Your Water for Optimal Hydration

You have probably been told that you need drink eight glasses of water per day (eight ounces each) and even more if you exercise. This is partially true, but there is a better way to stay optimally hydrated. Eat your water!

Believe it or not, eating your water is the best way to get hydration to all of your cells. Gerald Pollack, Ph.D., a water scientist and bioengineer at the University of Washington, says that water exists in 4 states—solid, liquid, gas, and gel. His research shows that water in plants is far more hydrating than plain water and more apt to get to the right places in the body, including your cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that bathes your brain), your bloodstream, your gut lining, and your respiratory system.

Gina Bria, co-author of Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Optimum Hydration and founder of the Hydration Foundation, also says gel water, or as she calls it, “living water,” is the best way to hydrate because gel water gets into our fascia. Gina has studied desert cultures. These populations have very little available water, yet they are able to stay adequately hydrated from eating plants that contain water in a gel-like state, such as chia seeds and cacti. And she has some great recipes for those of us who don’t live in the desert, such as Gina’s coconut-rose splendor smoothie.

Now, I’m not saying you should stop drinking water. Drinking pure water does help you to meet your hydration needs. Just be sure to get some gel-water from food sources, too.

Here are four more ways to make sure you stay hydrated:

  1. Improve your water. To ensure you get enough water, add something to your water to make it more hydrating, such as a pinch of Celtic or Himalayan salt, lemons, cucumbers, strawberries, or watermelon.
  2. Watch your caffeine intake. Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed psychoactive substances on the planet. And, caffeinated beverages, including coffee, tea, and sodas have a mild diuretic effect, which means they remove water and other nutrients from your body. You may notice that you urinate more when you drink caffeine. So, just be sure to drink or eat more water as well.
  3. Limit alcohol use. Alcohol reduces how much anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) your body produces. When you have less ADH available, your body loses more fluid than normal through increased urination. Of course, if you imbibe a little as part of a ritual or an occasional celebration, then you are not going to become severely dehydrated. Just don’t overdo it.
  4. Trust your body. How much water you need varies, depending on many factors, including how much you exercise, whether you drink alcohol or caffeine, how much you travel, and if you take medications. Be sure to trust your body’s signals. If you think you need to drink or eat more water, then you do. As a general rule of thumb, you can always divide your body weight by half, then drink or eat that amount of water in ounces every day. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, try to get 75 ounces of water per day, or enough so that your urine is clear. Be sure to hydrate gradually throughout the day.

Remember, fluids other than pure water don’t meet your needs for hydration the way that water does because they don’t act the same as water in your body. Once you begin hydrating your body optimally, you will notice that many symptoms will clear up.

How to Structure Water for Better Hydration and Health

Structured water is created when the hydrogen and oxygen atoms that make up water are rearranged to make it more alkaline, denser, more viscous and able to carry a charge. When water carries a charge, it has the ability to deliver electromagnetic energy directly to your cells’ mitochondria. This helps with energy production.

Studies also show that structured water can decrease inflammation by improving protein folding, thereby increasing cellular communication. Structured water has also been shown to slow the aging process by neutralizing free radicals, acting in the same way as antioxidants.

The good news is, there are many ways you can structure your water at home!

  1. Use a structured water device. There are a number of structured water devices on the market today. Some are portable and others need to be installed in your plumbing system, either as a whole house system or to one source of water such as your tap water, your garden hose, or your shower. These devices use different techniques to structure water. For example, the Analemma devices contain Mother Water. When you swirl the Analemma Wand through regular water, the water’s molecules mimic the Mother Water’s frequency and coherent structure. 
  1. Swirl your water. The idea of swirling water to create structured water is that the vortex created by the swirling motion mimics how water flows in nature. (Think of a mountain stream or river.) In non-industrialized countries this technique is often by catching rainwater and vortexing it on a larger scale. There are products that can help you create a vortex for water to become restructured. For example, the Mayo Swirl pitcher, which also claims to aerate the water and infuse fresh oxygen into it to deliver reoxygenated, rebalanced, and rejuvenated living water. 
  1. Try Copper. Using copper vessels to store water is a common practice in Ayurvedic medicine, and practitioners believe that copper plays an important role in balancing the doshas. This may be true since adding a copper plate to your water vessel not only removes impurities such as bacteria, fungi and other harmful microbes from the water, but it also restores water to its natural, structured state. To structure water with copper you need copper that is at least 1 mm thick, a clean clay or steel pot, clean water, lemon, and salt. Fill your pot with pure water. Scrub your copper plate with lemon and salt mixture until oxidation marks are gone, rinse, and dry. Place the copper plate in the water, cover with a lid, and let sit for 6-8 hours. Remove the copper plate and enjoy structured water.
  1. Sunbathe your water. Energy can restructure water. These energy sources can include heat from the sun, Earth, a radiation device, or even a muscle heating pad! One of the easiest ways to structure water is to leave pure water in a closed glass jar in the sun. You can even include herbs in your water to make it a structured sun tea. Other sources of energy that can structure water include infrared light, thunder, lightning, certain crystals and possibly even human touch!

A Word About Water Purification

Most of us live in places where our tap water is “treated” for pollutants. If you have ever had your water tested, you might have heard that you have “hard” water. This is usually due to high levels of chlorine or chloramine added by local water authorities to kill bacteria and parasites. In addition to containing chlorine, most treated water still contains toxins such as pesticides, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, endocrine disruptors, waste products, and well, you name it! Another way to look at it is that your tap water is your toilet water repurposed.

Many people ask if structuring water removes these impurities or if other types of water, such as distilled water or alkaline water are structured. The answer is maybe—and this is where your own research should come in.

Some structured water devices remove impurities, and others do not. So if you are installing a water structuring device or using a portable one, you need to learn about that particular device. Often you may need to add reverse osmosis to your water system to remove impurities first, and then add a structuring device or process to create structured water.

By the same token, if you use reverse osmosis or another water purification system, your water may be lacking minerals. So, you may also want to add back key minerals such calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium. One mineral I love to add to my purified, structure water is Shungite. Shungite has been used for centuries as a water purifier, disinfectant, and an overall healing mineral. It has a proven unique ability to act as a long-lasting antioxidant that prevents cell damage by neutralizing free radicals. Simply place Shungite stones in a pouch and drop in a glass, ceramic, or enamel container. Fill with cold water and let soak for 8 hours. (24-72 hours is optimal). Just keep adding water as you use it up. Make sure you use Elite Shungite from a reputable source.

In short, to create true living water you may need to filter your water, re-mineralize and then structure it.

Do you structure your water? What are you using and what results are you seeing?

Last Updated: November 1, 2023

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


Add comment
  1. Beth VanDusen
    9 months ago

    I am a longtime follower & fan of yours. Thank you for writing this article about hydration & structured water! I have been drinking & using structured water for more than 10 years. I filter my tap water with the Zero Water pitcher, which Mike Adams tested & showed it removed glyphosate. I also structure it twice (sometimes more) using structuring devices. I became an affiliate of The Wellness Enterprise 9 years ago, selling different structuring devices through my website StructuredWater.site. The benefits of drinking, bathing & using it for plants & pets are enormous (listed on my website). I have also had the rare opportunity to observe hundreds of pets when given structured water over the last decade with my professional pet sitting sitting business.

  2. Roxann
    9 months ago

    Dr Northrup – you are a true treasure! You mentioned placing shungite stones in water for more hydration and making sure to use Elite Shungite from a reputable source. Can you recommend good sources for this product?
    Thank you:)

  3. Charles Boyle
    5 years ago

    I always drink water from a thin-rimmed wine glass because you have to purse your lips to form a good seal, and this opens up your tastebuds to enjoy the taste of the water which is always sweeter. Likewise drinking tea from z thin-rimmed tea cup.
    The corrolary is drinking beer and coffee from the thick-rimmed glass or mug.

  4. Deborah
    5 years ago

    I have been taking bio identical hormone’s for quite a number of years. I have my hormone levels checked regularly and they are all very good. My Western medical doctor tells me I need to stop them but they don’t give me any alternative as to what I should do once I just stop taking them. I really need an answer to this please

  5. Leslie Verbrugge
    5 years ago

    hi Dr Northrup. I just came across articles related Dr Carolyn dean and all her articles sounded too good to be true. her article on magnesium is that true?. I trust your opinion. she was also investigated yrs ago and that makes me a little skeptical. her products r expensive and I don’t want to be scammed. you know her so I would like u to speak about that. Is everything on the up and up. I’m a pensioner and I can’t afford to be fooled. please let me know. thank you for ur time. BTW I’ve been on the women’s health network for yrs and learned alot re women’s health and I thank u for that. I await ur reply.

  6. grace ann
    6 years ago

    herbal tea in the cooler weather

  7. Barb
    6 years ago

    Very helpful information!
    Thank you dr. Northrup!
    I would also like to ask: What natural remedies will help with Osteoporosis?

  8. Deborah Hendry
    6 years ago

    good luck Ann much love and victory to you

  9. Teresa
    6 years ago

    Hello! I just ordered the book Optimal Hydration. I do consume coffee (organic) and social alcohol (but only with sparkling kombucha or probiotic). I am always looking for more creative ways to hydrate. I never considered that Himalayan salt helps hydrate. I have always used it in place of white table salt. Can you create a water concoction with the salt, then add cucumbers, lemons, watermelon and strawberries, and leave it out of the refrigerator (since there is fruit that’s perishable)?

  10. Robin
    6 years ago

    Thank you for this article Dr Northrup; very helpful. On your radio show you mentioned keeping a jar of room temp water with Himalayan salt on your counter and using a teaspoon or so in your green tea. Can you share the water/salt ratio again? How much do you drink of this daily? I drink about 40-60 oz of water each day and eat a lot of fruit but think I need to do better. Thanks again for all your help.

    1. Christiane
      6 years ago

      I take about 1/4 cup of Himalayan sea salt and add it to a quart of water. Then shake it. And leave it ( make sure the cap is plastic.). This creates a super saturated solution known as a sole. There will be salt on the bottom. I take a tsp or two of this each morning in about 16 oz of water. Sometimes I add the juice of half a lemon. Or even add the salt solution to a smoothie. You can keep adding fresh water to the jar to top it off as long as salt remains in the bottom. It’s a very easy way to hydrate and get minerals!

      1. Debbie
        6 years ago

        Thanks for sharing ! Do I need to refrigerate water?

  11. Kelly
    6 years ago

    Hi Christiane,
    I do only one cup of freshly ground organic coffee every morning, do you think that one cup is absorbing nutrients from my body?

    1. Christiane
      6 years ago

      I think it’s just fine!

  12. Kathryn
    6 years ago

    What a great article and I have just been reminded that I need to make sure I am drinking my correct amount of water each day to stay hydrated. Thank you!

    1. Christiane Northrup
      6 years ago

      I have to keep reminding myself about this too!! Thanks for weighing in!

  13. Sandra Santiago
    6 years ago

    I keep a daily record of the foods I eat and the ounces of water I drink. First thing I do when I get up in the morning is drink a glass of water because my body needs that to jump start. Besides it’s known to ward off disease. I also have a glass with my medicine. Later I’ll have a cup of green tea with honey. I carry a 28 ounce jug of water with me during the day. On a typical day I drink anywhere between 50 to 80 ounces of water. It’s especially important to stay hydrated with certain medications as they can make you constipated.

    1. Christiane Northrup
      6 years ago

      Good plan. I like how you’ve got it down to a science. And you are so right about medications. Even common things like alcohol and caffeine contribute to dehydration.

  14. Terry Yeatman
    6 years ago

    I carry 2 bottles 915 ml each with me everyday and I squeeze half lemon into each one. I am a pool technician so I travel around tending to swimming pools in the South Okanagan, of BC Canada. everyday and sip the water throughout the day.

    1. Christiane Northrup
      6 years ago

      Good plan. I like how you’ve got it down to a science. And you are so right about medications. Even common things like alcohol and caffeine contribute to dehydration.

  15. Tere
    6 years ago

    I am enjoying the book “Quench” so much! I just can’t get my head around how much you continue to inspire us all. I love you with all my heart. Thank you beloved! 🙂

    1. Christiane
      6 years ago

      What a beautiful post!! Thanks so much!

  16. Darnelle
    6 years ago

    Thank you for your advice on keeping our bodies hydrated, although I am pretty good at keeping account of how much water I drink, but as I get older, I get lazier, there are days that I drink less that 8 glasses. This summer in London, (sometimes temperatures rose to as much as 32 to 35 degrees in our building), I was reminded by the symptoms my body was expressing that I was not keeping my body hydrated enough. Anyway all was resolved once I became aware and started keeping tract of how much water I was drinking and unknowingly I ate lots of the above items you highlighted, since it was summer and these items are available everywhere… But I have now noted and will follow your advice…
    However, I would like to ask, whether drinking carbonated water could have a negative adverse impact on your health?
    Many thanks,

    1. Christiane Northrup
      6 years ago

      Thanks for asking about carbonated water. There is no evidence that it does any harm. We know that colas do and also carbonated sugar filled beverages. But good old sparkling water with some carbon dioxide in there? No problem!

  17. Cora Larson
    6 years ago

    For every cup of coffee, I drink two 12oz glasses of water. I also enjoy celery sticks, cucumber sticks/slices and add lemons to my water.

    1. Christiane Northrup
      6 years ago

      That ought to do it!! Good plan!!

  18. Eileen Blank
    6 years ago

    Thanks for this new insight. I was truly unaware that you could “ eat” your water needs.
    I sometimes eat my vegetables in their own broth and throw in some herbs. How would you rate this for hydration purposes?

    1. Christiane
      6 years ago

      This would be very helpful! Good idea.

  19. Jennifer
    6 years ago

    Thank you for this post. I recently was put on a hydration detox by a functional medicine doctor. Oh my gosh….I didn’t realize how dehydrated I have been. Also dealing with perimenopause/menopause symptoms but feel so much clearer and less stressed. Hormones are helping too.

  20. Joyce Hoko
    6 years ago

    Thank you for the awesome information to maintain Optimal Hydration. I will be sharing this information with my children and extended family in New Zealand….Nga mihi

    1. Christiane
      6 years ago

      Love it!

  21. Anne
    6 years ago

    Fruit is a great way to eat your water too. Thanks for the tips and reminders!

  22. Loretta
    6 years ago

    Thank you for your continuing great shows. I love how you are down to earth with life, and you can’t fool this young Gal , know you don’t mention age, and I totally agree with you, but let’s say I am a bit older than you and raised 7 beautiful children on my own and have been in the health and fitness all my life…Your show keeps on expiring me and it is one I try not to miss. Just want to let you know I loved this morning on Divine intervention.. Your Guest Speakers are also the best.
    I met you in Fort Lautidale at the conference a few years ago, my daughter came down from Trinidad for that one, with a whole bunch of friends and now you have a following There.
    I thank you.

    1. Christiane
      6 years ago

      Thank you SO MUCH for this comment. Made my day!

  23. Lynda
    6 years ago

    I went off caffeine over 25 years ago and started drinking 64oz or more a day. About 15 years ago I started drinking 6 – 8 oz of Aloe Vera juice a day. Prior to that I was chronically constipated and today I have regular easy bowel movements. I don’t have joint problems in fact a couple of years ago when I injured my knee an x-ray showed completely full and even joint cushion in my knees. I am 66 years old and am completely healthy with as much if not more energy than I had in my 30’s and 40’s

    1. Christiane
      6 years ago

      Very inspiring!! Good idea!

    2. Trisha Sease
      4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing! Do you mind sharing what brand of aloe you drink please?

  24. Tonya Wiliams
    6 years ago

    Thank you so much. I was severely dehydrated after 4 1/2 hours in dental work. I am a 77 year old diabetic and my BS dropped below 90. I’ve suffered muscle cramps beyond description. I get up and drink 32 oz of water then continue all day. I use Legs PM, magnesium, Vit C by EmergenC and Pom juice (2 oz day). I scour the net to find rememdies because I teach yoga and many have this problem who are over 60. I have been to the Emergency room when cramps extended al the way up to my face. Usually say it’s potassium. So I will try the vegetable route. I almost always eat the colorful plate. If you can help thousands find a solution to leg cramps, you will be the best doctor ever!

    1. Christiane
      6 years ago

      The solution for leg cramps is the right kind of magnesium and other balancing minerals. The very best I have found are ReMag and ReMyte from Dr Carolyn Dean, a renowned expert on magnesium– and also both an MD and a naturopath. Purchase through http://www.rnareset.com And follow directions.

  25. Jen G
    6 years ago

    I gave up coffee this year and have one, occassionally two cups of a green tea in the morning. I used to drink 2-3 cups a day. That has had a dramatic impact on my energy in a positive way. I also used to buy at least one case of Trader Joe’s sparkling water a week. I hated schelpping that case up to my apartment and using that much plastic. So, I finally bought a Soda Stream and use their fruit essences to flavor it (no sugar or artificial flavors). I basically drink 3 liters of water a day…some times more. Other than the occassional root beer I don’t drink soda. As I’ve been observing the impact of my choices more I’ve been tapering off alcohol. I’m in my 40s and red wine suddenly doesn’t go down like it used to. After doing Whole30 I really saw what a depressant alcohol really is and so, other than the occassional one cocktail for a special event I really don’t drink anymore and it’s getting easier.

  26. Dorothy Frankel
    6 years ago

    Thanks. I would like to know which foods to eat to hydrate more? Watermelon…and what other foods? good concept

  27. Anita Douglas
    6 years ago

    Can you give us examples of plants we can injest that contain water in a gel form? You said the gel from chia seeds. I also know this as gelatnous fiber. How about the aloe vera cactus? What else?
    Anita Douglas

  28. Christine Wellhausen
    6 years ago

    It’s also very important that the air you breathe is hydrated. Get a hygrometer and check to make sure your humidity is 40% – 50%. Long term low humidity can weaken your immune system and make you susceptible to many health issues.

  29. rebecca
    6 years ago

    dr patrick flanagans ‘mega-hydrate’ is my go to hydration
    rebecca in australia

  30. Barb
    6 years ago

    I “drink and drive”, ie. water!! I’m driving a lot and use the drive time to hydrate.

  31. Denise
    6 years ago

    Chia seeds have lectins and are not an option.

  32. JH
    6 years ago

    I have a kidney issue that makes it essential for me to drink/eat enough water every day. Someone shared with me a wonderful, adorable app called Plant Nanny that has made drinking water fun, so I thought I’d pass that along in case it’s useful to anyone else. I also very much love getting my water from juicing. The app is available for both OS and Android. Here is the OS link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/plant-nanny/id590216134?mt=8

  33. Carmen Ekdahl
    6 years ago

    I have a condition called Anhidrosis (also called hypohidrosis), which means I do not produce sweat. It’s been an issue my whole life and prevents me from doing a lot of cardio or HIIT exercising. Ironically, It also means that, other than urination, I have no way to release toxins in my body. How does this effect my body and is there anything I can do (besides avoid getting too hot)?

  34. pei
    6 years ago

    i suffer from sjogrens syndrome for many years and drinking water is not enough for hydrating as my body keeps on destroying moisture. after reading your article, it is helpful that i can choose other alternatives in helping me have my regular fluid intake more effectively.

    1. rebecca
      6 years ago

      I love dr patrick flanagans ‘megahydrate’ powder.Its my go-to for hydration.
      love rebecca in australia

  35. Ann
    6 years ago

    I enjoyed this article very much.
    I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and this will help removing my toxins

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