On average, the human body is made up of 60% water which means staying properly hydrated in kind of a big deal. Hydration is crucial to staying healthy and maintaining the function of every system in your body, including your heart, brain, and muscles. Fluids carry nutrients to your cells and flush toxins from your body.
Additionally, drinking enough fluids help to:
- Improve physical performance
- Help you to lose weight
- Boost your mood
- Boost your brainpower
- Prevent headaches
- Protect against disease
So how much water is enough for you? A good rule of thumb is to drink 1/2 your bodyweight in oz of water every day.
As with most generalities, this rule will vary individually based on internal and external factors. Because our bodies are constantly losing water through sweat, urine, breath, and bowel movements, we need to learn how to properly adjust our intakes. Water goals may increase based on our activity levels, environment, overall health, and if one is pregnant or breastfeeding.
Exercising or engaging in activity that makes you sweat will require increased water intake. For the majority of us, we should be engaging in physical activity on a daily basis, which means we should be upping the ante daily. Add an extra glass of water before, during, and after activity to replace fluid loss (roughly 24-32 extra oz of H20.)
Pro Tip: Consider adding electrolytes to this extra drink to help with muscle recovery and repair.
With the pleasure of living in the great state of Texas, the majority of us will be sweating more over the summer months. Take this into account as you become more aware of your water intake. Other environments that contribute to water loss are areas high in altitude.
Your body loses fluids when you have a fever, vomiting or diarrhea. If you’ve been feeling under the weather, drink more water or follow a doctor’s recommendation to drink oral rehydration solutions. Other conditions that might require increased fluid intake include bladder and urinary tract infections.
Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. The Office on Women’s Health recommends that pregnant women drink about 10 cups (2.4 liters/80 oz) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume about 13 cups (3.1 liters/105oz) of fluids a day.
How to tell if you’re getting enough
Unfortunately, 75% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration and don’t even realize it! If you suffer from any of the following symptoms, you may be struggling with mild to moderate dehydration.
- Feeling thirsty, dry mouth
- Tired, sleepy, midday fatigue
- Urine is low volume and more yellowish than normal.
- Trouble concentrating, foggy headspace, anxious, irritable
- Dry skin.
Take control, drink a glass of water (or two!) and see if your symptoms improve.
What about electrolytes?
Preventing dehydration is not just about drinking enough water, but also about your body’s electrolyte balance. Electrolytes are certain minerals (i.e., calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, sodium ions) essential to human health. These essential minerals are found in our food and cannot be substituted by any other nutrient in the diet.
Electrolytes regulate the flow of water in and out of cells and spark nerve impulses. Without them, we could not move, think, or live. Watch this surprisingly entertaining video for more info!
We most commonly lose electrolytes during bouts of sickness and sweaty workouts (ever tasted salt on your skin after sweating?) To prevent further dehydration, we can replace these lost electrolytes. Don’t go reaching for a Gatorade just yet, sadly these drinks are full of artificial colors and loaded with sugar.
Replacing lost electrolytes is as easy as maintaining a balanced diet and drinking enough water throughout the day and around activity and through supplementation.
My favorite method is to simply add a dash of Himalayan Pink salt to a cup of coconut water after a workout. A more flavorful method is adding a Nuun tablet to a glass of water.
All in all, water is the essence of life. Invest in a big reusable water bottle, preferably a non-plastic option such as Hydro Flask, and carry that baby with you everywhere you go!