For Howard Murad, MD, it’s clear: the fountain of youth is water. “We have so many new technologies, treatments, concepts coming out, but more and more chronic disease,” said Murad at the NutriCosmetic Summit keynote presentation in Las Vegas yesterday. “There are hundreds of theories on aging and disease. But I believe that the one thing that transcends all of these, the final common pathway, is intracellular water.”

Howard Murad, MDIntracellular water, or the water that supports your body’s cells, is the foundation of Murad’s new book, The Water Secret (Wiley, 2010) and his Inclusive Health Program, which considers three elements when evaluating skin and overall well-being: Topical (lotions, serums, etc.), internal/systemic (diet and supplements), and emotional (stress reduction, including cultural stress from technology overload or working overtime). “The skin is connected to every cell in the body. We can’t make it healthy by putting on a cream or ingesting a nutrient, but by addressing every system—every cell.”

Murad refers to Aristotle’s properties: We are hot and wet when we are young, cold and dry as we age. In his program, this translates to the decrease in collagen and intracellular water that we experience as we get older, making skin more susceptible to environmental damage and visible signs of aging.

It might be with a high school student suffering from acne. It could with be a 50-something wanting to improve overall health. But Murad’s goal is always the same: to make cells stronger by increasing intracellular water, which he says will improve health and aesthetics. “The goal is to strengthen cell membranes both internally and externally.”

But while staying hydrated can support your cells, the solution isn’t necessarily drinking eight glasses of water a day, a recommendation based on research from 1945, according to Murad. “You can utilize foods for water,” he said, getting H20 in its “structured” form in beans, fruits, and vegetables, which also harbor the nutrients that will help boost intracellular water and collagen production. His program and products have also pinpointed the most promising skin-protective, collagen-boosting nutrients: glucosamine, Vitamins B and C, lipids, and amino acids. After all, the water that protects your cells may be his key to healthy aging, but “water is just water unless we add nutrients to it.”