Are you drinking enough water? We’ve all heard the stats that none of us get enough water or hydrating liquids in an average day. So how much do you need and how can you meet your requirements without feeling waterlogged?
This article will offer tips on proper hydration, ideas on how to get plenty of liquids on even the hottest days, and give you some fun ideas for jazzing up your liquid intake. Great tips for kids too!
How Much Water Should You Drink per Day?
This depends on your body type, health condition and medications, and the amount of physical activity you get. If you work or exercise outdoors in the summer, you need more water than most. Some medications will cause you to retain (or release) water from your system while other health issues such as thyroid disease make it possible to have too much water.
The general rule of thumb is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day (or about one half-gallon). Again, this is affected by a lot of factors including health issues, if you’re pregnant or nursing, your level of physical activity, and body weight. Use this as a benchmark but please consult your clinician if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns.
What Does Water Do for Your Body?
Our bodies are made up of 60% water so it’s a crucial element for the functioning of almost everything from biochemical reactions in the brain to moving nutrients through your body to regulating your heartbeat and body temperature. Even mild dehydration can cause significant physical symptoms and left unchecked it can quickly progress to a serious medical issue. Obviously, thirst is the first sign that you are becoming dehydrated but sometimes it can progress quickly to a more serious situation. Know these symptoms of dehydration, watch for them in yourself and in those you’re with.
- Headache or dizziness
- Rapid breathing
- Mental fog or confusion
- Muscle cramps
- Fainting and light headedness
- Reduced need to urinate and dark colored urine
If you have any of these symptoms, slowly drink water (preferably with electrolytes), get out of the heat and sun into a cool space, and sit quietly until you feel better. If symptoms do not subside (or worsen), call 911.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
- Get a resealable water bottle with quantity markings. Choose a size that fits into your backpack or cupholder and is light enough to carry comfortably when full. Choose a bottle with a wide-mouth opening as it’s easier to refill and clean.
- Create a routine that incorporates enough water during your day. Fill your water bottle before going to bed and put in the refrigerator so it’s well chilled for the next day. Plan ahead for how you’ll refill it (shoot for a refill at lunchtime and again after dinner). At first start recording how much water you’re drinking so you can establish a routine that will eventually become part of your normal.
- Drink cold water. Studies show that water between 50°F and 72°F is most easily absorbed by the body. And most people find it more tasty, so you’ll likely drink more. Try keeping a pitcher in your fridge so you’ll always have cold water on demand.
- Begin and End Your Day with One Cup. First thing in the morning and before coffee, drink one cup of water. And then last thing before bed, drink another cup. This sneaks in two cups to your day with very little effort!
- Add flavor. Plain water is just that: plain. Try making your own infusions with sliced lemons, limes, cucumbers, mint, or fresh berries. Just immerse them in your water and let sit for a few minutes to release the flavor. Or try making a whole pitcher that everyone can share – this is a great way to get kids to fill up. For extra variety try coconut water or maple water – they are both filled with antioxidants and electrolytes (just choose no extra sugar versions). Or make a big batch of sun tea made with caffeine-free green tea. Just fill a large glass jar with water, drop in a few tea bags, and let sit in the sun to brew all day. Serve over ice with a slice of lemon and drop of honey.
- Avoid alcohol, coffee or black tea, and sugary drinks. While these are technically liquids, they also contribute to removing water from your tissues. This list includes energy drinks, wine, beer or hard seltzers, and soda.
- Stay cool and avoid situations with potential for overheating. Staying hydrated also means preserving the water in your system through regulating your body temperature. During the hot days of summer this requires some planning! If you must be out during the heat of the day, wear light-colored, loose clothing and try to avoid the sun. Schedule your most strenuous activities for cooler times of day and have a plan in place where you can seek shelter quickly if you begin to feel overheated. And make sure you have plenty of water on hand while you’re exercising.
- Add high-water foods to your diet. The good news about summertime is it’s also easy to get lots of fresh fruit and veggies which are also a good source of water. Try zucchini or summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, watermelon, spinach, berries, cherries, and grapefruit -- all contain a high percentage of water.
- Add in probiotics. We’ve all heard the benefits of probiotics for gut health but they also help improve overall digestion which means your body better absorbs water! You can find them in yogurt, kombucha, fermented foods (but watch the sodium), dark chocolate, kimchi, and tempeh.