Because your body is made up of more than 60 percent water, maintaining an adequate hydration status is important for several reasons. It’s important to recognize when you might be getting dehydrated, how to prevent it, and how to remedy it.
There are two types of dehydration problems: acute dehydration and chronic dehydration. Acute dehydration requires the need for immediate attention and happens within a short period of time due to environmental, medical, or physical situations. Chronic dehydration is when you are mildly dehydrated a lot of the time. This can lead to several conditions that are quite unpleasant such as kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and declines in cognitive and physical performance.
Water requirements are well regulated by your body. When your body needs water, you get thirsty. This sense can be clouded if you are consuming things that disrupt the feeling of thirst such as drinking caffeine, alcohol, some medications, or simply if you are under stress. So, drinking water regularly is recommended to ward off dehydration, but more importantly don’t ignore the feeling. Keep track of when you had water. Set an alarm, write post-it notes, and/or keep a refillable water container in your vehicle or on your desk to help remind you to get enough throughout the day. A good idea is to start your morning with about 16oz of water (more is good) upon waking. You should aim for about 3 liters daily, depending on your body and needs. For the non-athlete, take your body weight, divide it in half, change the letters for “lbs” to oz, and you have your basic water requirements (for example 180lbs/2 = 90lbs→ 90oz.). If you are an athlete or pregnant, your water needs increase.
Because water makes up many of the foods we eat such as fruits and vegetables (watermelon!), we actually are closer to meeting our water requirements daily depending on diet! So, if consuming enough water daily is difficult for you, just be sure to eat more vegetables, and fruits to help. Try infusing your favorite fruits and flavors into your water jug or glass to help with motivation. Mint leaves, cucumbers, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, raw coconut, etc. all add great, light flavor for a refreshing drink. Not to mention, the added calories are negligible, and won’t add inches (or even centimeters ) to your waist. Another way to add benefit to your water is by adding electrolyte supplements to it. This is especially good, if you’ve been sweating a lot. Some contain sugar, so if you’re cutting back, find ones that are sugar free.
The benefits of water in the body are more than just quenching your thirst. Water makes up your blood, sweat and tears, but also helps regulate body temperature during periods of physical activity or in hot weather or environments, helps in making hormones, and provides a cushion for internal body structures. It’s the single most important self-care thing you can do daily, adequately, and purposefully to help your mind and body be at its best.
Christian Luera is a Master Trainer and is a Certified Precision Nutrition Coach at the PJCC. Precision Nutrition takes a personalized approach to building healthy eating habits. Working with Christian, you’ll start with the current habits and beliefs that aren’t getting you the results you want, and through an outcome-based program, you’ll learn the habits that do help you make progress. Interested? Contact Vicki McGrath, our Wellness Director, for more information.