- Nancy Boudreau, RYT, CHHC
4 Tips for Drinking More Water
4 easy ways to drink more water so you stay hydrated during the dog days of summer.
The dog days of summer are upon us and boy is it hot! With the rising temps and humidity, it’s time to take your hydration up a notch.
Some interesting facts about water:
The adult human body is made up of 60% water.
Blood is 90% water.
Humans can live 8 – 10 weeks without food but only 3 days without water.
Take that one in.
We all know how important it is to drink enough water, but it’s not always easy to do.
According to Dana Cohen, MD and Gina Bria, authors of QUENCH: Beat fatigue, drop weight, and heal your body through the new science of optimum hydration, most of us are in a chronic state of dehydration and don’t even know it.
Eating too much salty, dry processed foods like pretzels, pasta, bread, and cereal, breathing in dry air from heating and air conditioning, taking prescription medications that cause clinical dehydration, and living a sedentary lifestyle all contribute to dehydration.
Dehydration can cause symptoms like:
weakness and fatigue
brain fog and inability to focus
Chapped lips, dry skin, mouth and eyes
Not staying adequately hydrated can also contribute to chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and dementia.
Why is getting enough water so important?
The humble glass of water is truly a life force. Staying hydrated and drinking enough water:
Helps regulate your body temperature
Sweating brings water to the surface of the skin. As it evaporates, it cools you down.
Forms saliva to help with digestion
Digestion begins in the mouth. Saliva helps break down food to make the nutrients more absorbable.
Lubricates and cushions joints, brain, spinal cord, and tissues
Water is needed for the brain to make hormones and neurotransmitters and is one of the building blocks for cells.
Helps to keep airways lubricated
Dehydration can constrict airways and make allergies or asthma worse.
Carries oxygen throughout the body and helps lower blood pressure
Blood is made up of 90% water. Dehydration can cause blood to thicken and increase blood pressure.
Helps to eliminate waste
Water is needed to produce sweat and move urine and feces out of the body.
Helps prevent gastrointestinal issues
Water helps prevent constipation, kidney stones, UTIs, stomach ulcers, and heartburn
How much water do I need to drink a day?
There is no universally recommended amount of water per day. Daily water recommendations include 8 cups (64 ounces) or half your body weight in ounces. The amount of water you need depends on your age, gender, the climate you live in, physical activity, general health, and medications you take.
According to The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, men need about 15 cups of fluids per day, and women need about 11 cups of fluids per day. Fluids include water and other beverages as well as food.
Common sense prevails. If you’re thirsty, drink water. A good baseline and achievable goal for most people is eight cups of water daily.
How do I know if I’m getting enough water?
Check your urine color
Normal urine should be a pale yellow. Although urine color can be affected by the medications and supplements you take or foods you eat, a dark yellow color typically indicates dehydration.
Check your urine output
If you’re getting enough fluids, you should be going to the bathroom every 3 - 4 hours.
Do the skin pinch test
Pinch the skin on the top of your hand. If it doesn’t bounce back to normal, you’re dehydrated.
Can I drink too much water?
It is possible to drink too much water. Hyponatremia is a condition when your blood sodium levels are abnormally low. This can be caused by drinking too much water, excessive vomiting and diarrhea, medications, and diseases that affect kidney function.
Some symptoms of Hyponatremia include headache, lack of energy, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, and seizures. See a doctor if you experience severe symptoms of nausea, vomiting, confusion, seizures, or loss of consciousness.
Do coffee and tea count toward my hydration goals?
Drinking caffeinated coffee or tea can have health benefits. Caffeine can help keep you alert and improve physical performance.
Coffee and tea contain antioxidants that help fight free radicals and may lower your chances of getting certain types of cancers, dementia, and Type 2 diabetes.
A couple of cups of caffeinated coffee or tea a day is generally safe for most people. Drinking excessive amounts of coffee or tea (4 or more cups a day) can have a diuretic effect and exacerbate conditions like anxiety and high blood pressure.
Enjoy your morning coffee or tea and then move on to water.
4 Easy Ways To Drink More Water Everyday
1 - Drink a large mug of warm water or a glass of cool or room temperature water first thing in the morning
You’ve gone 6 - 8 hours without any fluids so drink up and rehydrate. Add a squeeze of lemon juice for a boost of vitamin C.
2 - Carry a reusable water bottle and fill it often
Not only will you stay hydrated and save money, but you’ll also drink fewer high-calorie beverages like soda, juice, and flavored coffee drinks.
3 - Make water more appealing
Don’t like the taste of water? Get a pitcher or water bottle with a filter. Make infused water by adding a few thin slices of cucumber, citrus fruits, or berries.Try adding fresh herbs like mint, rosemary, basil or thyme. Make a large pitcher and drink it throughout the day. It looks pretty and tastes delicious.
4 - Eat hydrating foods
Drinking water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated. Fruits and vegetables can contain up to 98% water and there's a bonus: Plant fiber helps keep you hydrated longer.
Eating juicy, cooling fruits and vegetables like watermelon, berries, peaches, dark leafy greens like lettuce and spinach, celery, radishes, peppers, and cucumbers are delicious and healthy ways to meet your daily fluid requirements. Incorporating hydrating meals like fruit and vegetable-rich smoothies and hot or cold soups is another easy way to up your hydration.
Drinking (or eating) enough water ensures your body is able to perform all the necessary functions it needs to keep you alive and well.
The standard American diet, climate, medications, and lifestyle all contribute to dehydration. By drinking more water and eating water-rich foods like fruit, vegetables, smoothies, and soups, you can easily and deliciously meet your hydration requirements.
If you want to learn more about the health benefits of water and the science behind hydration, I highly recommend the book, QUENCH: Beat fatigue, drop weight, and heal your body through the new science of optimum hydration, by Dana Cohen, MD and Gina Bria. It contains fascinating information about how water and proper hydration affect the body. They also outline a plan to help you get and stay hydrated.
Here’s to staying hydrated–Cheers, Slainte, Salut, chin-chin, and bottoms up!