Why Hydration Is So Important?
About 70% of the human body is made up of water. Drinking enough to maintain that level is crucial for good health. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to function well. It is essential for maintaining electrolyte balance, improving blood circulation, regulating body temperature, and promoting overall cell health.
Not getting enough water can quickly lead to dehydration, especially in warmer climates. This impairs your body's ability to properly absorb nutrients from food. Even mild dehydration can lead to more fatigue, lower alertness and concentration, and a lower mood.
How Much Water Do You Need?
While there is no particular formula that dictates daily water intake, the age-old “eight glasses a day” is a reasonable goal. The recommended water intake for adults is 64 ounces, or eight (8-ounce) glasses per day. More accurately, women should drink 2.7 liters of water each day and men should aim for 3.7 liters of total water.
Drinking enough water is the key to staying healthy, but our day-to-day activities can make it difficult to properly stay hydrated. Here are 10 simple tips to get and stay hydrated every day.
1. Don’t Wait Till You’re Thirsty
To stay well-hydrated, you need to get used to drinking water even if you're not thirsty. By the time you realize that you're thirsty, chances are that you're already slightly dehydrated. In order to prevent mild dehydration, it is best to sip water gradually throughout the day. Remember to take frequent water breaks and get in the habit of sipping water between work tasks.
2. Keep a Bottle of Water With You During the Day
You are likely to drink more water if you carry a water bottle throughout the day. To cut down on costs, keep a reusable water bottle with you instead of buying single-use plastic water bottles. This is not only much cheaper but also helps reduce toxic waste in the environment. You can easily refill your bottle with tap water in any setting — whether you're at home, running errands, traveling, or at work.
3. Flavor Your Water
If you don't like how water tastes or just find it boring, try adding a bit of flavor to it. You can add a whole new taste to the water with a slice of fresh fruit or a little juice. Lemon slices, cucumbers, and strawberries are the most popular choices. Adding frozen blueberries as ice cubes is another great option. Consider buying an inexpensive fruit-infuser water bottle if flavoring motivates you to stay hydrated.
4. Drink Water When You Wake Up and Before Each Meal
Drinking one or two glasses of water first thing in the morning will help you rehydrate. It counters any dehydration you might have had from the night before and prepares your digestive system for the day ahead. Another essential habit for staying hydrated is drinking one glass of water before each meal. If you are trying to lose weight, drink a glass of water about 30 minutes before eating. Studies have shown that drinking water increases feelings of fullness and reduces calorie intake for each meal.
5. Eat Foods With High Water Content
Staying hydrated is not just about drinking more water. Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables will also help you stay hydrated. Foods that have a particularly high water content include lettuce, celery, zucchini, cabbage, watermelon, and cantaloupe. Fruits and vegetables also have the added benefit of being packed with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that improve your overall health.
6. Replenish Frequently
Remember to replenish every time your body loses water. Whether you are sweating after intense physical exercise or have just been to the restroom, drink plenty of water to replace the amount that is lost. The American Council on Exercise has the following guidelines for staying hydrated during a workout:
- Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water two hours before exercising.
- Drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.
- Drink 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise.
7. Keep Cool
Another significant way to stay hydrated is to make sure you're not losing more water than necessary. If you live in a place with a warm climate, limit sun exposure to keep your core body temperature low. Stay inside when it gets too hot, preferably in an air-conditioned environment. If you feel particularly exhausted, try sports drinks to help replace the lost water and electrolytes.
8. Avoid Alcohol, Sugary Drinks, and/or Caffeine
You might think that all drinks are hydrating, but some beverages actually work against hydration. Drinks that are packed with caffeine or added sugars remove water from your cells and tissues. This means that coffee, sodas, smoothies, sweet tea, and energy drinks are all responsible for dehydration. Alcohol can also be a major culprit. It is a strong diuretic, which means that it causes you to urinate more. This can quickly result in dehydration if you don't drink enough water to replenish.
9. Set Reminders
If you have a tough time remembering to drink water or simply want to measure how much water you drink in a day, use a hydration app on your smartphone. The app will prompt you to drink water with helpful notifications at regular intervals. It will also build accountability with accurate tracking of your daily water intake. You can also set daily goals with many apps available for free.
10. Know the Signs of Dehydration
One of the most important ways to prevent dehydration is to watch out for its symptoms. The most obvious symptoms of dehydration include:
- Yellow or dark-colored urine.
- Headaches (could be mild or as severe as migraine).
- Muscle cramps.
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
- Skin getting dry or inflexible.
If you notice any of these signs, try to replenish your fluids as soon as possible.