Water isn’t just blue, it’s also green. 

— Gina Bria, anthropologist, author and educator


Water is essential for life. It enables the growth and healing of every cell in our bodies. According to multiple sources of data, our bodies are overall about 60 percent water by volume. The proportion of water in the brain and kidneys is 80 to 85 percent, in the heart and lungs about 75 to 80 percent, in the muscles, liver and skin 70 to 75 percent, and in the bones 20 to 25 percent. Even the teeth contain 8 to 10 percent water.

We’ve all been told that it’s important to drink water, but scholars now believe that humans and animals hydrate most effectively through the foods we eat. Research shows that meaningful hydration happens when water makes its way inside of our cells. 

But not just any water can transport across the cell membrane. We know now that water from natural sources, like the water in plants and in streams, lakes and even rain, has electrical and other biological properties that allow it to make its way into our cells, where it can do the work of supporting life.

According to the work of renowned water researcher Gerald Pollack, Ph.D., when water travels through pipes or sits in bottles, these properties are disrupted and the water becomes less compatible with our biology. The idea that eight glasses of water a day is sufficient for health is incomplete, because the quality of the water we drink is just as important as the quantity, if not more so. 

So how do we hydrate effectively? There are simple and affordable ways, many of which are discussed by Dr. Pollack in his books, “Cells, Gels and the Engines of Life” and “The Fourth Phase of Water.” These ways include eating foods such as berries, cucumbers, melons, root vegetables like beets and sweet potatoes, and soaked nuts and seeds, especially chia seeds. Green juicing may be the quickest way to hydrate our cells. The fresher, the better! Eating foods promoted in the Ayurvedic tradition, such as turmeric, ghee and holy basil, is also hydrating.

You can also add the following to the water you drink: a pinch of a high-quality salt, lemon or other fresh fruit juice, herbal tea, or even sunshine. I put a pitcher of filtered water outside in the morning that I can use throughout the day. 

According to Dr. Pollack, biologically compatible water is potentially absorbed five times more efficiently than tap water. This finding is hugely significant in terms of both water conservation and the health of crops. Simple technological solutions for restoring water to its biologically compatible form for both building and agricultural applications are being studied by water scientists worldwide.

There are also ways to boost the healing potential of the water in our bodies. These include absorbing infrared heat through sunshine and saunas (take caution not to overexpose—20 minutes a day of moderate heat is generally safe) and walking or lying in sand or earth. As described by many scientists, including Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, our bodies benefit from electrons we receive from the earth. Movement, meditation and swimming in natural bodies of water, especially saltwater, also helps us absorb the water in our bodies.

Dr. Pollack and other scientists discuss influences that render water in the environment and our bodies less compatible with life. These include glyphosate (RoundUp) and other pesticides; many medications, including NSAIDs (ibuprofen/Advil), Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Zolpidem (Ambien) and Benzodiazepines (Valium, Ativan, Xanax); cell phones, computers, smart technologies and dirty electricity; air from artificial heating and cooling systems; fluorescent lighting; and processed foods.

When we’re well hydrated, we receive more nutrients from the food we eat. Biologically compatible water has a higher surface tension and can capture the large particle nutrients from foods and transport them into our cells. Simultaneously, toxins are “rinsed” out of our cells, and many are rendered non-absorbable. Certain nutrients, such as calcium, which is notoriously difficult to assimilate, become more readily incorporated. Hydrating greatly supports weight loss. All of these means of increasing the efficiency of metabolism support a cleaner, leaner, healthier body.

For further reading, Dr. Pollack’s books are wonderful, but they are also dense and technical. I find the book “Quench” by anthropologist Gina Bria and Dana Cohen, M.D. very accessible. The book presents the relevant history and science, and contains detailed strategies and recipes for optimal hydration. 


Dr. Michelle Veneziano  is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and an adjunct clinical professor at Touro University in Vallejo. She lives in Forest Knolls.