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Hydration is essential for your entire body to function optimally. So, let’s address the concepts of water and hydration and find out: are you hydrated?
Is Hydration Essential?
Just a few weeks ago CBS news reported on the importance of hydration. The article that popped up on my browser when I typed in “How to tell if you are hydrated”, stated “drinking enough water is also associated with a significantly lower risk of developing chronic diseases, dying early or being biologically older than your chronological age, according to a National Institutes of Health study published Monday (January 2) in the journal of eBioMedicine.” Go CBS. I’m not one to generally follow that news program but, hey, they are actually spreading good information on this! You have to love that!
I’m not sure we needed the above 25-year study to tell us this, but hey, maybe some people needed it. I think most of us are aware that we need to be hydrated. I’m not sure the reasons for that are widely known. Did you know, for instance, that fluid makes up 60% of your body? Indeed! Muscles contain up to 75 percent water and cells are composed primarily of water and they use water to transport nutrients. Water assists with all stages of digestion. Water provides lubrication for your joints. An ACSM Health and Fitness Journal article states that just a 1 – 2 percent water loss can cause mild dehydration which can have a negative impact on critical thinking and short-term memory. Staying hydrated with water is especially critical for keeping all of the body processes functioning optimally.
How Do I Know If I’m Hydrated?
You can look for signs of hydration by watching your water input and output. One indicator that the body is properly hydrated is urine color. Clear and light colors can indicate hydration. Be aware, though, that many things can affect the color of urine such as B vitamins. Awareness of dehydration symptoms are also important to know! Keep reading to know what some of those signs may be!
How Do I Know if I’m Dehydrated?
For most people, thirst is often the first indicator of dehydration. I’m not one of those people. I can literally go the entire day without drinking and not realize it. If I detect thirst, I am beyond mild dehydration! Are you like me? Or does your body give you this warning sign earlier? Other common signs of dehydration are fatigue, lethargy, confusion, dizziness, mood changes, tension and darker colored urine.
How Much Water Do I Need?
The numbers here vary, but most sources will say half of your body weight in ounces. This means that if you were to weigh 100 pounds, then 50 ounces a day is the amount you need to drink. In my recent readings I came across another way to determine the amount. Amy Myers, MD reports that recent research states men need an average of 15.5 cups (of water) and that women need an average of 11.5 cups a day. Of course, even this amount varies depending on your activity level and something like the weather (hot weather means we sweat more which means you need to increase that water intake). If you are ill that number increases as well.
How Do I Keep Track of My Water Intake?
You need a water bottle in that wellness basket! Maybe a basket full of water bottles. These Lifefactory bottles are very popular. I just use a mason jar at home but I do like this type of bottle for car travel. Actually, now that I’ve mentioned water bottles, I should mention I’m definitely not talking about plastic water bottles from the grocery store. Plastic water bottle leach chemicals – but remember, I’m all about baby steps. If that’s what you have to do to make sure you get the water, do what you have to do. Work on water intake first, then work towards a better way to get it. But do make sure you are drinking good, pure water.
Some people have actually bought big 32 oz or gallon size bottles (BPA free or glass or stainless steel) to help them track the amount they drink. I just make sure I keep track of the size of glasses or mugs I’m using at home so I can add up the amount in my head (or on a piece of paper because I often lose track). There are also some great apps out there to help you track your water intake.
Does It Have to Be Water?
Actually no. Hydration is essential – getting it through plain water is not. But it should not be sugar-sweetened beverages, beverages with artificial sweeteners, coffee (which is not necessarily a health hazard but not a good source of hydration), juice (unless perhaps you’re speaking of a vegetable juice), or alcohol. It really ought to be water or herbal tea. I don’t mean herbal tea that is mixed with black tea as black tea can be dehydrating. I’m talking about actual herbs- like Chamomile, Tulsi, Lemon Balm or other herbs not related to the tea family. See my post about Chamomile Tea here! Water can also be flavored with a fruit infusion ( or cucumbers are lovely) to flavor it if you, like me, just can’t tolerate the plainness of water.
There you have it. Hydration is ESSENTIAL. Water for hydration is essential.
Just Make Progress
Remember my post on imperfect progress? Remember no one expects perfection here. I don’t expect it. You shouldn’t either. If you are someone that struggles with water intake, evaluate what you want to accomplish and how YOU want to go about it. Take baby steps. If you weigh 100 pounds (just an example, I’m not asking or judging) and 50 ounces seems impossible (I weigh more than that and 50 ounces still seems impossible most days), the estimate how much you generally drink in a day and raise that average by 5 or 10 ounces more. Once you achieve that as a consistent pattern, then try to raise the bar a bit. The important thing here is that we are all working towards progress. Imperfect progress is still progress! Don’t forget that!