Drink Water All Day Long & Still Feel Dehydrated? A Functional MD Explains Why
It's a scenario Dana Cohen, M.D., integrative medicine physician and co-author of Quench, knows all too well: You gulp down water all day long, religiously refilling your (reusable!) water bottle. And yet—you feel perennially parched, your lips chapped, and your mouth desert-dry. Your mind reels with iterations of What gives?
If this paints a familiar picture, let us ask you one follow-up: Do you own a water filter? As Cohen explains on the mindbodygreen podcast, if you drink filtered water (namely, from a reverse osmosis filter), "you have to remineralize your water."
Why you may need to remineralize filtered water.
Don't get us wrong; reverse osmosis water filters are great—they clean your tap of potentially harmful contaminants and byproducts, after all. (Cohen's partial to this version from AquaTru.) However, she says these filters weed out everything—including healthy minerals, electrolytes, and the like.
"If you're drinking all that plain bulk tap water that has nothing in it, you're flushing out electrolytes, not replacing those electrolytes," she says. Without those electrolytes1 (read: sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, et al.), you may not feel aptly hydrated throughout the day, even after gulping down gallons.
So if you do use a reverse osmosis water filter and you can never seem to quench your thirst? You might want to think about remineralizing your water. Of course, you can opt for OTC electrolyte replacements, but Cohen says a dash of Himalayan sea salt and a squeeze of lemon can also do the trick. "Not every single glass of water, but in a couple of those glasses do a pinch of [salt] with some lemon to replace some other minerals," she adds.
That sprinkle of salt helps pull water into your cells through sodium transporters, as functional nutrition expert and certified sports nutritionist Jaclyn Sklaver, M.S., CNS, CDN, LDN, once told us. "They enable more water to be absorbed by the intestines than plain water alone."
Of course, you can also get your fill of minerals from food—like, say, from a Cohen-approved green smoothie. So long as you're replenishing electrolytes in some form or another, you might be A-OK without the saltwater. But if you feel frustratingly dehydrated no matter how many glasses you gulp down, it could be a low-lift experiment to try.
Feeling dehydrated is no fun, and it's especially aggravating when you're supposedly doing all the right things. Just know that it's not you—it may be your water filter. That's not to say drinking filtered water is bad: Quite the contrary! Plain bulk water is better than no water at all, and replenishing those electrolytes is a pretty quick fix.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.