Drinking enough water is something that everybody hears about, everybody talks about and we all know we should do, but most of us for whatever reason, do NOT do. In this post we will outline why it is so important to be properly hydrated as well as show you ways you can easily get more water into your daily routine.
Water, Water Everywhere?
We’ve always heard that we need to drink ‘enough’ water; and some have told us that ‘enough’ is eight 8 oz. glasses of water daily. We are told that if we drink eight 8oz. glasses of water daily and/or if our urine is clear, we are properly hydrated. While this may be true, it is not necessarily true. What we are not told is that many of our lifestyle and dietary habits induce dehydration.
Consuming caffeine, alcohol, soda, processed foods or smoking will all cause water loss from the body. Once more, exercise, low humidity (winter), sweating, etc., all cause increased water needs. Even minor dehydration can have dire health consequences.
You cannot always see dehydration, but it is crucial you do not ignore it. The reason is that almost every single chemical reaction in the body depends upon water, and in order for the body to perform at its very best, we MUST be properly hydrated.
Functions of water in human body
- Improves oxygen delivery to the cells
- Transports nutrients (very important for healing)
- Enables cellular hydration
- Promotes health mucosal membranes (i.e., GI tract, respiratory tract, urinary tract)
- Cushions and lubricates bones and joints (i.e., arthritis, joint pain)
- Absorbs shocks to joints and organs
- Regulates body temperature (i.e., hot flashes, cold hands/feet, intolerance to hot/cold)
- Removes wastes and flushes toxins (i.e., detoxification)
- Improves cell-to-cell communications (i.e., mental function, coordination)
- Maintains normal electrical properties of cells (i.e., mental function, fatigue, muscle soreness)
- Allows immune system to function properly
If we are not hydrated properly, the body will begin to send us signals, such as:
|Early Signs of Dehydration||Progressed Signs of Dehydration|
That is not to say that every one of the conditions listed above is due solely to dehydration (although this is entire possible in many cases); however, every one of the conditions above will be exacerbated by dehydration. And it is VERY likely you are dehydrated.
A Dehydration Epidemic
We have a dehydration epidemic in this country. Your body is approximately 67% water by weight. If your body’s water content drops by as little as 2%, you will feel fatigued. If it drops by 10% you will experience significant health problems, such as those above. Losses of water over time are a real threat to our health, yet Americans don’t drink enough water.
In a survey of 3003 persons in 15 major US cities, participants reported drinking an overall average of only 4.6 – 8 oz. servings of water per day. Once more, 44% said they drank three or less servings of water per day and nearly 10% said they didn’t drink water at all.
|What American Drinks8 oz. servings per day in order of quantity|
In addition, many of the things we do drink actually decrease hydration, including coffee, soda, caffeinated beverages, and alcohol, which are all diuretics – which means they are dehydrating. Soda/pop is particularly damaging becuase it is also very acidic in addition to being dehydrating. Net is that the average American consumes approximately three 8 oz. servings of hydrating beverages daily, which means most of us are in a constant state of dehydration!
So How Much Water Do I Need to Drink?
We lose approximately 2-3 quarts of water every day through normal perspiration, urination, breathing and metabolism. This can change/increase dramatically with increased exertion/exercise, changes in temperature, humidity, stress, body size and altitude. However, a good rule is to drink ½ your body weight in ounces every day. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., you should drink about 75 oz. of water per day.
However, the key to proper hydration is how much water you drink at once and how often. The cells can only absorb a limited amount of water at any given time; any excess is simply eliminated through the urine (making the urine clear). Therefore, you should drink your water in divided doses – about 2-4 oz. every 20-30 minutes ideal. In addition, you should try and drink the purest water available – distilled would be best, reverse osmosis, filtered bottled water, and spring water would be next best. Keep in mind that it can take weeks to months to become properly hydrated due to the fact that the cells can only absorb a limited amount of water at one time, so get your water in throughout the day on a regular basis.
Here are some tips to increase your water intake:
- Have multiple water containers stashed where ever you are during the day so it is always around.
- Use a timer/alarm to remind you to drink water regularly and often.
- Use Emer-Gen-C or other powdered mix (such as Endura) to give the water some flavor.
- Use lemon/lime to flavor the water.
- Use Stevia drops to flavor the water; we have several flavors available at the clinic.
- Mentally connect drinking water to some other activity you are doing regularly throughout the day (i.e., deep breathing, sending email, talking on the phone, people calling your name, etc.).
Other things you can do to improve your hydration is eliminate dehydrating drinks, foods and habits, including coffee, black tea, soda (especially soda!), alcohol, processed foods and smoking.
If you’d like to know or track your hydration status, the Natural Path Health Center has a simple, inexpensive test called bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) that will provide not only your hydration status, but also your body composition and basal metabolism (to the calorie). Contact us for more information.
Proper hydration will help with almost any health condition, especially those listed before. In fact, becoming properly hydrated is the least expensive and most impactful thing you can do for your health.
Stay healthy – stay hydrated!
- Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, MD – wwww.watercure.com
- Report from Nutrition Information Center at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, May 11, 1998.
- Cornell University Medical Center, Nutrition Information Center. Survey conducted by Yankelovich Partners. Underwritten by the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA). Reported in Alternative Medicine Magazine. June 3, 2000