Water is essential for life and drinking enough is one of the best things you can do to support your wellness goals. Knowing how to hydrate benefits your entire body, from your skin tone to your kidneys. Summer or winter, it is always important to be aware of your water intake and ensure you are getting enough fluid and electrolytes to keep your body in optimal condition.
Hydrating properly is important for your overall health and preventing dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Staying hydrated allows for the normal function of everyday body processes. Without enough water or hydrating fluids, you’d face serious (even life-threatening) side effects. Dehydration can seriously impact not only your physical well-being, but mental health too. Research has shown that even mild dehydration — as little as losing 1 percent to 2 percent of body water — can impair cognitive performance. Adults who aren’t sufficiently hydrated may age faster, face a higher risk of chronic diseases and be more likely to die younger than those who stay well-hydrated
Hydration is needed for the following essential functions:
- Electrolyte balance
- Temperature regulation
- Blood pressure normalization
- Stabilization of heartbeat
- Nutrition and oxygen transportation
- Waste and bacteria removal/detoxification
- Digestive processes
- Muscle repair
- Joint cushioning
Lack of hydration has been associated with:
- Skin issues including dryness and acne
- Digestive imbalances like gas, bloating, acid reflux, constipation and diarrhea
- Brain fog, poor mental performance
- Stiffness, inflammation, and muscle spasms
Lifestyle factors and dietary choices can make staying hydrated even more challenging. These include:
- Stimulants like caffeine
- Refined sugar/salt
- Processed/refined foods (especially dehydrated and dry foods like chips and crackers)
- Lack of sleep
In fact, studies show that increasing daily water intake might even provide several health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, diluting blood waste material and protecting kidney function.
Although you may think drinking water and staying hydrated would be simple, many people are challenged with drinking sufficient water for their needs. Knowing how to keep hydrated is important for your body, health conditions and lifestyle.
How To Hydrate
Although this may seem obvious, the cornerstone to hydrating in drinking enough water. The standard advice of 8 8-oz glasses of water per day may be well-meaning, but unfortunately it is inaccurate. It was never based on any evidence and does not consider the water in foods (especially soups and vegetables).
Your body requires approximately half your bodyweight (in pounds) in ounces of water to function properly. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, you would need 75 oz. of water or the equivalent of 6 – 7, 12-oz glasses.
Body weight, nutritional needs, age, and activity levels all affect the amount of water someone needs every day to hydrate. If you’re exercising or outside on a hot day, you’ll lose more fluids than when you’re sitting at home or work, for example, and will therefore need to drink even more water that day to hydrate properly.
Drink throughout the day. Keep water handy so it is available if you want it, but there is no need to become overly obsessive over it. You can only absorb a certain amount of water and drinking more does necessarily hydrate you more
Eat Fruits & Vegetables
Regular intake of fruits and vegetables can help you hydrate throughout the day.
Some hydrating foods include:
- Bell peppers
- Citrus fruit
Add Minerals & Flavor
Adding an unrefined, raw sea salt to your water will increase its absorption because proper mineral balance is necessary to stay hydrated. You could also add liquid minerals to your water for an extra boost.
Drinking mineralized and/or sparkling water is another way to get minerals. The added minerals in water are hydrating and they will help boost adrenal and thyroid function, providing more natural energy.
Many people believe plain water is boring and avoid drinking it. It can be simple to create variety in the flavor or taste of your water. As a bonus, this can also make the water more hydrating. An easy addition is that of fresh lemon juice and unrefined sea salt. This mineralizes the water and the lemon juice makes the water cells more bioavailable. Herbal tea sweetened and infused waters are also good options.
Drink Water Alone
Drinking water with food can dilute the enzyme and acid activity otherwise released while eating leading to poor digestion. This in turn inhibits how much water you are able to absorb. Eating dried, dehydrated and overly salty foods results in needing water to rehydrate the foods as they are being eaten. This is one of the factors that create feelings of thirst when eating any heavily-processed food.
Experiment with having a glass of water 30 minutes before each meal, and then proceed to not drink any water until at least an hour afterwards.
Not consuming foods and beverages that ultimately cause dehydration is an important step in hydrating properly and optimally. Coffee and other natural stimulants like green tea can provide many health benefits. You might, however, choose to limit your consumption and/or balance them with plenty of hydrating liquids.
Excess caffeine can have a diuretic effect in the body, resulting in possible dehydration. If you are drinking a caffeinated beverage for extra energy, consider trying some pure, mineralized water. You might be pleasantly surprised as to how much more energy you have by hydrating better.
Avoid Sport Drinks
Most sports drinks are not your friend. They contain high concentrations of glucose, fructose, maltodextrin, sucralose, xylitol and a host of unnatural ingredients like dyes, stabilizers and preservatives. They do not support hydration. For an electrolyte-rich re-hydrating treat try coconut water. It is packed with potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium and can replenish lost fluids and electrolytes from exercise and hot summer temperatures. Try freezing coconut water ice cubes or pops for a refreshing, hydrating, Paleo friendly summer treat.
Bone broth is full of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which can help with muscle contraction and relaxation, as well as amino acids for improved muscle and joint repair, making it a great choice for athletes.
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Note: It’s also possible to drink too much water, especially among people with certain conditions including thyroid disease or kidney, liver and heart problems. These people should consult with their medical professional regarding how to best hydrate.
Knowing how to hydrate is important to support body functions and processes including electrolyte balance, joint cushioning and detoxification. Staying hydrated is as necessary for your health as eating high quality, real food. To stay hydrated, you need to drink enough water, and other hydrating liquids and foods, minimize stimulants and avoid mass-manufactured, sugar-loaded sports drinks.