Health Biomarkers Series: Water Distribution

Posted on 9/12/2013 by Dr. Adrian den Boer
Categories: detoxification, gut flora, Health biomarker, hormones, water distribution

Another important biomarker of health is water distribution, which is one of the most sensitive markers of inflammation, toxicity, and hormones in the body. One of the cheapest, easiest, and most accurate ways that we measure water distribution is with our BioImpedance Analysis (BIA) machine.
At DBC, we analyze three main things that comprise water distribution:
1) Extracellular Water
2) Intracellular Water
3) Total Body Water
Extracellular water is the measurement of water outside of your cells.  A smaller number is better. 
Like a sprained ankle retains fluid because of inflammation, an imbalance in extracellular water can indicate inflammation, toxicity, and/or hormonal imbalance in the body.
On the flip side, intracellular water is the measurement of water inside your cells.  A higher number is better, and correlates with lower extracellular water. Both work in concert; the higher the intracellular water, the lower the extracellular water, and vice versa. Also, the ideal ratio is 60% intracellular water and 40% extracellular water.
A great way to visualize the importance of this ratio is to think of a cell as a grape. If it is healthy, it is plump with fluid like a grape, driving the cell activity within.
As soon as it becomes less healthy, fluid is lost to the outside (extracellular water) and it resembles a raisin. This definitely impacts functionality at the cellular level.
As your body regenerates healthy cells and function improves within the organ systems, this measurement will improve, indicating better health.
The final water measurement is total body water, which indicates your hydration level. This should be at least 50%.
Unfortunately, water is one of the most commonly diagnosed nutritional deficiencies at DBC, and at least half of my new patients do not pass the test.
Water is crucial to health, folks! It helps hydrate joints and disks, keeps our neurological systems functioning smoothly, and aids in detoxification.
When dehydration is present, or total body water measures less than 50%, health can be affected in many areas.
To best balance both intracellular and extracellular water compartments, as well as totally body water, I recommend the following:

1) Drink at least half your body weight in ounces on a normal day.

Obviously, use discretion to increase as needed, whether from physical activity or on a hot day.
2) Consume plenty of good fats in your diet to normalize cell wall integrity. Be sure to balance your diet with healthy carbohydrates and proteins, too.
Aim for a mostly plant-based, Mediterranean whole foods diet, with healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, wild-caught fish, and nuts and seeds. Consuming a variety of seasonal vegetables and fruits will not only boost hydration, as they are primarily water, but will help lower inflammation as well.
3) Get your digestive system working well.
From consuming probiotics and fermented foods to populate the gut with good bacteria, to taking digestive enzymes and avoiding food sensitivities, taking care of your gut will improve your overall health!
4) Balance your hormones.
Working with your DBC physician to balance hormones – whether starting with the thyroid, adrenals, or major sex hormones – is crucial to intracellular and extracellular health, and overall health.  
5) Exercise!
In my practice, I’ve seen exercise help improve the water distribution percentages. For tips on which types of exercise to engage in, check out my post here.
6) Fill your lifestyle with lots of smiles and love!
Stress management and lifestyle are underrated in overall health. Don’t discount these as an important part of the healing process!
Typically, it takes between 3 – 12 months to improve these water distribution measurements, but you can expect to start seeing improvements within 6 weeks via clarity of mind, more energy, less swelling, and less joint pain!

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