Did you get your eight glasses of water today? Do you really need them?
We have been told to drink plenty of water daily to maintain a healthy body. Why? Because our bodies are made of about 60% water on average, in our organs, bones, blood – everywhere! Our brains, for example, are comprised of 80-85% water. These percentages differ depending on age, body type, and sex.
The eight-glass standard is easy to remember, but it’s not set in stone. Hydrate healthfully and you’ll function and feel better.
Why we must stay well-hydrated:
- To regulate our body temperature
- To keep our joints cushioned and lubricated to prevent inflammation
- To prevent infections
- To deliver nutrients to cells
- For organ functioning
- To protect the spinal cord
- For better sleep
- For cognitive functioning and mood regulation
- To maintain a healthy weight
- For detoxification and waste removal
Simply put, you become dehydrated when your body loses more fluids than you take in. The body loses water constantly, through breathing, urination, and perspiration, for example.
Common signs and symptoms of dehydration include:
- Increased/excessive thirst
- Dry mouth
- Body aches
- Dry skin
- Less frequent urination
- Tiredness (even with adequate sleep)
Pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you. Before you pop a pain pill, grab a glass of water.
Water, But What Else?
Water is essential. But you can help keep your body well-hydrated in other ways too. Let’s get hydrated!
Load Up on Fruits and Vegetables
Not only are they healthy for you and taste great, but fruits and vegetables are made mostly of water. Cut up some watermelon chunks, which are 92% water…hence, its name. If watermelon is not in season, you’re still in luck. Nearly any fruit or veggie you eat will hydrate you.
Strawberries, peaches, and oranges are great choices too. Cucumbers are 95% water. Slice one up over a fresh salad. Celery is another hydrating veggie, along with bell peppers and tomatoes. Think about whipping up a fresh fruit and veggie smoothie for breakfast or a snack to pack in loads of vitamins, nutrients, and water!
Watch Your Caffeine Intake
This one can be tricky since most caffeine we consume is liquid – coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, etc. If we’re drinking a beverage, wouldn’t it be hydrating? Yes…and no. Caffeine is a diuretic; when we consume it, we produce more urine. Although you’d have to drink a massive amount of caffeine to counteract the hydration it provides, drinks with caffeine aren’t ideal for hydrating. The Food and Drug Administration recommends a daily limit of 400 milligrams of caffeine for adults.
If you can’t function without your morning coffee, keep having it. But pair your “cuppa Joe” with a cuppa water.
Got milk? Milk poured over your favorite cereal is a no-brainer, but did you know that non-fat (skim) and low-fat milk are super hydrating? Electrolytes are plentiful in milk, hydrating the body like sports drinks do (Gatorade, for instance). Electrolytes balance the fluid in the body, so cells function at their peak.
Milk is also a great source of protein and a good choice for a post-workout beverage. A glass of skim or low-fat milk now and then has its benefits, but it’s not something you’ll want to sip all day as you’d sip water. Your tummy will thank you!
Try Coconut Water
If plain water becomes boring, change it up with coconut water, which is also high in electrolytes to replenish the body with hydration. It also contains potassium which aids in the relief of muscle cramping.
Compared to many fruit juices, coconut water is lower in calories and truly refreshing. After your next workout, see if a glass of coconut water hits the spot.
Eat Oatmeal for Breakfast
You need water to make oatmeal, and all that water doesn’t just disappear once your oats are ready to eat. They have been absorbing that water, making your meal hydrating, even though it isn’t apparent.
Oatmeal is quick and easy to prepare, and you can load it up with hydrating fruit chunks for more flavor and variety. A glass of skim milk to wash it down, and breakfast is done!
Tip: Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink something. Be proactive and sip regularly, especially on hot days or after a workout.