Just Add Water 💦 Why Hydration is so Important
With summer quickly approaching and the cool spring rains leading to summer dryness and heat, I thought this would be a good time to discuss proper hydration. Many people do not keep track of how much water they are drinking or the quality of that water. It is easy to forget to drink water or many substitute it with other beverages that may be dehydrating you. Also, many people mistake thirst for hunger.
Did you know that 60 % of our bodies are made up of water? Our muscles are comprised of up to 75% water while our brains are made up of up to 80%! Up to 75 % of Americans may be chronically dehydrated. Chronic dehydration can cause slowed mental and bodily functions.
Here are 10 signs of mild or moderate dehydration:
Dry mouth and lips
Less frequent urination
Dark yellow urination
Fatigue and drowsiness
Muscle and joint aches and pains
Here are 10 signs of severe dehydration:
Low blood pressure
Can’t keep down fluids
Severe diarrhea with or without vomiting
TIPS FOR HEALTHY HYDRATION:
Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water. Once you are thirsty, it’s already too late. You are in a hydration deficit and may begin to feel symptoms. Try to hydrate regularly to avoid chronic mild or moderate dehydration symptoms.
Don’t substitute water with sparkling water, juice, soda, alcohol, coffee, tea, or other beverages. Although water is one of the ingredients on beverage labels or drinking a beverage may seem to satiate your thirst, your body may not be satisfied with your choice. Beverages like alcohol, tea, and coffee are dehydrating. You may need to rehydrate with 1-2 cups of water for every serving. Sparkling water, juice, soda, and alcohol often have a high sugar content. So on top of adding to dehydration, they can be causing blood sugar dysregulation. Caffeinated beverages can lead to spikes and falls in blood sugar as well. See my coffee article here for more on making sure that consuming coffee and tea is helping and not hurting you.
Recognize the difference between food and drink. Many people think they are killing two birds with one stone by drinking a smoothie, cold-pressed juice, or blended coffee beverage. They may be getting calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates. But they are still hungry or thirsty. So they get a refill or eat more food when all they needed was WATER. It is easy to over-consume calories and tease your brain by drinking heavy beverages instead of straight water. Your brain knows the difference and will send you searching for more sustenance until you get it right, even if it takes hundreds or thousands more calories to extract the water it needs!
Make water tasty. If you’re just not a fan and think water is blah, you can spice things up with natural flavorings. Adding fruits and vegetables to your water bottle can add the hydrating benefits of those foods and a splash of flavor. Consider adding slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, melon, or berries.
Remind yourself to drink water. Have a water bottle in close range, have reminder timers on your watch or smartphone, or consider downloading hydration apps.
When you’re in a big deficit, consider consuming a natural electrolyte beverage or supplement. Unsweetened coconut water is great for rehydration. It can be used after a long day in the sun or heat, after consuming dehydrating beverages, or after a workout to replenish electrolytes. As a general rule of thumb, I say 1 serving of coconut water replaces 2-3 glasses of water.
SAFE DRINKING WATER TIPS:
Tap water is regulated by the EPA, while bottled water is regulated by the FDA. The FDA reporting and testing requirements for bottled water companies are less stringent than the EPA’s regulations on tap water. So just because water is bottled, doesn’t necessarily mean it is the safest option.
For the cleanest water, look for companies that use reverse osmosis to filter out contaminants. You can also use carbon filters and reverse osmosis systems at home for your tap water at your water intake source, kitchen sink, showerhead, etc to reduce your exposure to chlorine, lead, pesticides, bacteria, and other contaminants that end up in your water source. Home water filtering systems can spare needed minerals in the water which are needed for healthy hydration.
If you are consuming well water, have your water tested. Contaminants from groundwater can seep into your well like fertilizers and other chemicals that runoff from yards, farms, etc that sink into the ground.
Bottled spring water is a popular type of bottled water that is usually treated with chlorine before going to the consumer. Because of the low oversight of bottled water companies, they can contain chemicals and differing mineral profiles. Mineral water is spring water found deeper in the earth and can contain contaminants too.
Distilled water is boiled tap water and is void of minerals due to the process. It is not meant for regular consumption and can cause dehydration.
If you are purchasing bottled water (which tends to be in plastic) make sure the product is not exposed to extreme heat and sunlight from shipping or being outside. These conditions can cause the plastics to leach into the water and release toxins into the body, disrupt hormone signaling, and they can accumulate in the body and cause cellular changes. Next time you see a case of water sitting outside at the store in the sun, keep walking and grab a case inside.
Avoid light plastics that are stamped with the numbers 3,6, or 7, or have BPA or PVC. These plastics leach the worst into your water or food items.
Opt for stainless steel or glass water bottles. If the lids contain plastic, they should be BPA and PVC free and made from heavier plastics.
Realize that your water is lost in different ways, 50% in urine, 25% from the skin, 19% from the lungs, and 6% from the feces. Our body size, activity level, the temperature of our environment, and perspiration level determine how much water we need. Always check with your doctor for hydration advice especially if you have kidney issues. A general rule of thumb for a healthy adult is to consume half your weight in ounces of water daily. So a 200-pound adult would consume about 100 ounces of water daily for proper hydration, or more or less depending on their activities for that day or their health status.
Enjoy summer & its activities. Just remember to add water 💦!