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Try This: Morning Hydration Challenge

One of the most valuable, affordable, and overlooked brain-boosting bio-hacks out there is…

Drum roll, please…

Proper hydration!

In fact, water is so essential for our brains that a loss of just 1-2% can significantly impact our cognitive function (1)(2)(3), making it harder to focus, concentrate, make decisions, or even connect with others.

When we aren’t getting enough water, or the correct type of water (more on that below), we starve every cell in our bodies and prevent them from working optimally.

And worst of all, so many people have no clue that the reason they’re in a funk or feel like garbage is directly tied to a lack of hydration!

Today’s newsletter is focused on changing that with a simple 7-Day Challenge!

But How Much Water Do I Need?

We’ve all heard of the “8 x 8” rule (to drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of water daily) or to drink half your body weight in ounces of water. But the truth is, there’s no magic number or formula that works for everyone because we are all different.

Your age, size, sex, the climate you live in, physical activity level, and how much you sweat all impact your hydration needs. Does a small, older woman need to drink the same amount of water as a 6-foot tall male college football player? Probably not.

The guidelines out there can be a little confusing. What I do know, though, is that you are probably the best judge of your dehydration and hydration needs, but only when you know what it feels like to be properly hydrated in the first place!

That’s why I put together a 7-Day Morning Hydration Challenge. My approach to hydration is a little different because it makes water a priority at the start of your day and requires you to look inward and become truly self-aware of how your body feels when it’s hydrated appropriately (vs. when it’s not).

I know that sounds easier said than done but hear me out, if we can increase our interoception (i.e. becoming aware of what’s happening inside our bodies by paying attention to how we feel), we can become our own hydration judge and start to gauge how much we need to drink to be properly hydrated.

But before we do that, we need some background on the following:

  • Why are we so dehydrated?
  • What effect does dehydration have on our brains?
  • How does “proper hydration” differ from drinking water?

Let’s answer those first, and then we’ll jump into my protocol on how to incorporate drinking more water into your life and daily routine.

We Are Dehydrating Ourselves All Day Long

Our bodies are using and losing water all day long. Digestion, converting food into energy, detoxification, and waste elimination via sweat, urine, and stool requires water. Plus, drinking caffeinated beverages, eating refined sugars, sweating, stress, and simply just breathing deplete us of water.

Your brain and body also tap into your water supply to restore, rejuvenate, and detoxify you while you’re asleep. That’s why your pee is super dark and concentrated first thing in the morning—from all that metabolic waste that accumulates overnight. (It’s also a sign that you’re waking up dehydrated.)

For that reason, before I have my coffee in the morning, I make sure I’m kicking my day off with at least one 16-ounce glass of water. Then, I’ll have my second glass along with my morning cup of joe. But if you’re anything like me, drinking plain water first thing can be a struggle, so I’m going to provide you with my best simple tips on making it more enjoyable (see below).

The Consequences of A Thirsty Brain

The best way to tell if you’re waking up dehydrated is to pay attention to how your brain feels.

In addition to thirst, fatigue, dry lips, dry mouth, and feeling lightheaded, brain function is another major indicator of dehydration.

When we’re dehydrated, our brain shrinks in size—crazy, right (2)? That’s because your neurons require water and electrolytes to fire and communicate with each other (3)(4)(5).

Even just losing 1-2% of your body’s water mass can significantly affect your brain’s ability to function (1).  If your brain isn’t getting enough water, it can’t communicate with the rest of your body as well.

This results in loss of focus, executive function (your ability to think, plan, remember, adjust, and adapt behaviors to situations), poor coordination, memory, fatigue, headaches, mood imbalances, and so much more (6)(7).

Proper Hydration Is So Much More Than Drinking Water. 

There’s a reason why ancestral civilizations sprouted up on the coasts and wherever there was water around—it’s essential for life.

The difference between our ancestors’ drinking water and our drinking water today? Our ancestors’ drinking water naturally contained essential minerals (aka electrolytes) that most of our water today (tap, bottled, or filtered) is stripped of due to modern water treatment practices.

Turns out, our ancestors (as always) did it right. We need electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium) to bring water into our cells. On average, we’re made up of at least 60% water, and 40% of that is inside our cells (8)(9)(10).

Water helps keep our cell’s shape and structure. It’s also the medium where virtually every metabolic process takes place (10).

So, we can drink water all day long, but if it doesn’t have the proper balance of electrolytes, it’s not getting into our cells, which is crucial for proper hydration. If water isn’t getting inside your cells, they start to shrivel up, leading to dehydration and its downstream effects (10).

A Quick Note About Filters

Water filters are great and, in my opinion, an absolute must. I once heard a friend say, “Either you have a filter, or you become the filter.”

Now the thing about water filters is that they take out a lot of bad, but they also strip the water of almost all minerals. That means it is extremely important to add the key minerals back in (suggestions below).

Like many of you, I have a reverse osmosis filter, and I love it, but I always make sure to add back in minerals. I don’t do it for every glass, but I definitely make it a priority for hydrating with my morning water and the water I drink after my workouts.

If you’re looking for a good recommendation for a filter, I’ve included one of my favorites in the Splurge section.

Now for The Protocol, which has everything you need to know about hydrating properly (and practically).

The Protocol

I. Water First. If you aren’t waking up and hydrating with water AND electrolytes, you aren’t giving your brain the chance to operate at its fullest potential for the rest of the day.

That’s why I want to inspire you with today’s newsletter to take our 7-Day Morning Hydration Challenge.

The challenge might seem super simple, and it is! But sometimes the simplest things are the most overlooked.

If your goal is to feel great in the morning, support your brain and body in functioning optimally, and increase your overall interoception, this challenge is for you!

I made the hydration challenge a 7-day challenge because I know you can do anything for seven days, and it takes about a full week to really feel the benefits of proper hydration first thing in the morning.

Look For These Markers Over the 7-Days: I know when I’m properly hydrated first thing in the morning, I feel more focused, happier, less irritable, sharper, I crave less sugar, and I feel overall more excited about the day.

Are you sold yet? Let’s jump into the challenge!

Try This:

1. My 7-Day Morning Hydration Challenge. After waking up and brushing your teeth, you are literally going to start the day with water first.

Yes, before we reach for our morning coffee or tea, we’re going to prepare and drink 16 ounces of filtered water first.

This will give your brain and body a nice hydration boost after your long overnight water fast and give you a buffer of hydration to work with throughout the morning.

Step 1: Start With 16-Ounces Of Water 

  • Base Option: Take 16-ounces of filtered water, add the juice of ½ a lemon (or lime) and a pinch of sea salt. Mix and drink!This base option is perfect for anyone that doesn’t already have a high-quality, sugar-free, electrolyte supplement. Although I’d highly recommend going out and getting one. Even Whole Foods and most local natural food stores will have a couple of high-quality electrolytes.
  • Electrolyte Option: As mentioned above, electrolytes are so powerful for so many reasons. A high-quality electrolyte supplement contains the right balance of sodium, potassium, and magnesium to pull water into your cells.The key is avoiding those super popular electrolyte mixes that are unfortunately marketed as being “healthy” despite being loaded with sugar.

Luckily there are some clean options out there, too. One of our favorites is E-Lyte by BodyBio. You can get it on their website, Amazon, or on the Dr. Hyman store. Take 16 ounces of filtered water, add the juice of ½ a lemon (or lime), and include 2 capfuls of E-Lyte or any other high-quality, sugar-free electrolyte mix.

Before Coffee: I know it’s tough—just like you, I crave my morning cup of coffee. But if we jump to coffee before we have water, we immediately start to dehydrate our bodies rather than refresh them.

Note: The one caveat that I can understand is that some people need to have coffee before they have their first bowel movement of the day. I’d still challenge you to drink water first before having coffee because chronic dehydration (years of having coffee first before water) could be one of the reasons you are constipated in the first place.

Step 2: One More 16-Ounce Glass Of Water

  • Now that you’ve had your first 16-ounce glass of water, it’s time for the second. The ultimate goal is to have 32 ounces of water within the first hour of waking up, but I know waking up and drinking 32 ounces is tough for most people.That’s why, I’ve found for myself, and others, that it’s easier and more practical to have 16 ounces of water first thing, before coffee or tea (you can even prepare and drink it while your coffee or tea is brewing, that’s what I do). Then, once your coffee or tea is ready to drink, make your second 16-ounce glass of water and have it alongside your morning beverage of choice.

    Prepare the second 16-ounce glass of water the same way you prepared your first, either using the Base or Electrolyte Option in Step 1.

2. Personalize It. The goal of my 7-Day Morning Hydration Challenge is to help you make the connection between feeling great and being fully hydrated. Once you know what that feels like, you can modify things and dial in your hydration anyway you want. That could look like a little less water for some or a little more water for others.

SPLURGE!

I. High-Quality Water Filters. Below are my top recommendations.

Try This:

1. AquaTru’s Countertop filter. If you don’t have a filter, Dr. Hyman and I really like AquaTru’s countertop filter because it doesn’t have to be installed. They’ll be coming out with an under-the-sink system soon so stay tuned. Because we’re partnered with AquaTru, you can use my affiliate link to get 30% off.

2. Berkey Filters. I know a lot of people also like the Berkey Filter, and I think that’s a great option, too. A perk about Berkey Filters is that they are one of the only quality filters that are stainless steel. But I’m not too concerned about countertop or pitcher filters made from plastic because they aren’t being used to heat water at high temperatures.

My only note about Berkey and most other water filters is that the biggest mistake people make is forgetting to change their filter. That’s why I like AquaTru because you’ll get a reminder on the device that it’s time to change the filter and swap out the dirty one for a clean one.

And by the way, if you’re using a Brita Water filter, please note that it doesn’t really filter out anything. It’s mostly designed to improve the taste of the water. A better option if you want to stick to a pitcher is the Zero Water Pitcher Filter.

Better Together

So much of successful habit change is making things fun and feeling accountable. If you’re planning on doing our 7-Day Morning Hydration Challenge, let’s do it together!

We’re going to be using the Facebook Group for The Dhru Purohit Podcast community so that we can hold each other accountable and support each other in getting our hydration on.

All you have to do to participate is join the group and tell us you are doing the challenge!

My co-writer and I will be checking in and posting updates on how we’re getting in our water in the morning, and we’d love it if you would join us in sharing your experience.

Feel free to post your favorite electrolyte water recipes and tell us if you’re feeling any benefits from doing the Hydration Challenge. Let’s cheer each other on in reaching our hydration goals.

Final Thoughts

Bottom Line: If you want your brain to work better, the best place to start is with proper hydration.

If nothing else, I hope you learned today that proper hydration isn’t just about drinking water. Electrolytes are essential, too. Furthermore, you are the best judge of your own hydration needs, but this requires being aware of the signs of a thirsty brain and body.

Let me know how your morning hydration routine is going by joining my Facebook community. We will be using this page as a platform to connect and we plan on featuring more Try This challenges here in the future. If you’re interested in doing more exciting challenges, be sure to join the group and say hello!

For the full list of references cited here, head on over to my blog.

Here’s to your hydration,
Dhru Purohit

  1. Riebl SK, Davy BM. The Hydration Equation: Update on Water Balance and Cognitive Performance. ACSMs Health Fit J. 2013;17(6):21-28. doi:10.1249/FIT.0b013e3182a9570f
  2. Kempton MJ, Ettinger U, Foster R, et al. Dehydration affects brain structure and function in healthy adolescents. Hum Brain Mapp. 2011;32(1):71-79. doi:10.1002/hbm.20999
  3. Benton D, Jenkins KT, Watkins HT, Young HA. Minor degree of hypohydration adversely influences cognition: a mediator analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Sep;104(3):603-12. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.132605. Epub 2016 Aug 10. PMID: 27510536.
  4. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/neurons-absorb-release-water-when-firing-nih-study-suggests
  5. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150928152500.htm
  6. Armstrong LE, Ganio MS, Casa DJ, Lee EC, McDermott BP, Klau JF, Jimenez L, Le Bellego L, Chevillotte E, Lieberman HR. Mild dehydration affects mood in healthy young women. J Nutr. 2012 Feb;142(2):382-8. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.142000. Epub 2011 Dec 21. PMID: 22190027.
  7. Rabinovici GD, Stephens ML, Possin KL. Executive dysfunction. Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2015;21(3 Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry):646-659. doi:10.1212/01.CON.0000466658.05156.54
  8. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-and-human-body?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
  9. Tobias A, Ballard BD, Mohiuddin SS. Physiology, Water Balance. [Updated 2021 Oct 9]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541059/
  10. https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/uncategorized/2019/biological-roles-of-water-why-is-water-necessary-for-life/
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