Updated: Feb 28
Join Purely Planted’s Hydration Challenge! Starting January 3, 2023, for seven days, to get one (simple!) step each day to help keep you hydrated.
Guest post: Tracy Greenstein, Georgia State University Dietetic Intern
You're probably aware that hydrating is really important during the steamy heat of the summer. However, did you know that it’s equally as important to drink water during cooler months? Staying hydrated year round is critical for optimal health, including brain, heart, hormone, and digestive health, just to name a few. Have a seat, sit back, and grab your favorite water bottle because we’re about to share why staying hydrated year round is critical for health and vitality.
Why is hydration so important?
Water is essential for survival. It is the single largest nutrient in the human body, accounting for 60% of adult male body weight, 50–55% in adult females, and up to 75% in newborn infants. Every cell in our bodies requires water to function properly, as it circulates nutrients and oxygen while facilitating the removal of waste. In fact, many of your organs, such as your brain, heart, kidneys, muscles, and lungs are made of water. Insufficient water intake can negatively impact how the different systems in your body function, from digestion to cognition to heart health to joint mobility.
To perform at its best, your body needs to be supplied with water continuously throughout the day. Adequate hydration is associated with a lower risk of urinary tract infections, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, constipation, and exercise-induced asthma, just to name a few.
Signs that you’re dehydrated
When you lose more fluids than you’re taking in, your body is at risk for dehydration. Throughout the course of a day, your body is constantly losing water through urine, sweat, breathing, and other regulatory functions. Not drinking enough water puts you at an increased risk for health complications like constipation, poor sleep, and mood disorders. In severe cases, dehydration may lead to heat stroke, urinary and kidney diseases, and cardiovascular failure. Lightheadedness, fatigue, lack of focus, muscular cramps, very dark colored urine, dry or sticky mouth, and headaches are all warning signs that you may be dehydrated.
How much water do you need each day?
A general rule of thumb is to drink according to your thirst levels to prevent dehydration, but there are some age groups that are the exception. Infants and young children are especially sensitive to fluid loss as they have higher metabolic rates, less body mass, and aren’t always able to communicate thirst like adults can. Older adults typically have a reduced thirst sensation and lower fluid reserves, making it easy to miss the signs of dehydration and underestimate how much water they should drink. Relying on thirst sensations may not always be the best indicator of hydration needs, therefore it’s important to drink according to the recommendations below.
Most likely, you’ve heard that drinking eight glasses of water a day is recommended for health. While that’s a great start, it actually falls short from the recommendations set by the Institute of Medicine. (I know, I was bummed to hear this news too!) The daily recommendation is 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) for women and 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) for men. Of course, this is a general amount and may vary depending on your weight and activity level. This amount can also include hydrating tea, fruits, and vegetables (not just water). Another recommendation is to drink half your body weight. This means that if you weigh 150 pounds, you would need 75 ounces of water a day (about nine cups). For those of you who may be falling short or have a challenge getting in just two glasses a day, below are 10 (good!) reasons to drink sufficient water.
Water stimulates your body to produce feel-good endorphins and keep stress hormones, like cortisol, out of circulation.
Support reproductive health
Women who drink the recommended amount of water may support their egg health and uterine blood supply, as hydration is essential for optimum regulation of the reproductive system.
Improve sleep quality
Support weight management
Maintain mental clarity and focus
Water supports the brain in its many processes. When the brain is fully hydrated, it can be more efficient, thus supporting concentration and responsiveness. Dehydration may affect your short-term memory and cause mental fatigue.
Between our bones, in the spaces that come together to form a joint, is a substance called synovial fluid. This fluid is made primarily of water. When it’s not sufficiently lubricated, it becomes weak. When you don’t drink enough fluids, less synovial fluid is produced, resulting in an increase in friction between the joints causing discomfort, and pain.
Drinking enough water means keeping your urinary and digestive health flowing, preventing constipation and keeping you regular.
Promote optimal performance
If you are engaging in any activity that makes you sweat, it’s important to replenish that fluid loss to minimize the risk of dehydration. Failing to do so can cause decreased physical performance and endurance, as the body won’t be able to self regulate its temperature.
Still haven’t picked up your water bottle? To convince you even further and get that sipping action into motion, here are 10 fun tips that are sure to keep you hydrated throughout the day.
1. Drink a glass of water (or two!) the moment you wake up.
You become slightly dehydrated overnight. Make it part of your morning routine to drink one large glass of water, before you grab the caffeine, to get your day started on the right track.
2. Make drinking water fun by investing in a fun and festive water bottle.
Remind yourself to keep sippin’ by putting the bottle next to your workstation or bringing it with you everywhere you go. For toxic-free drinking, use glass or stainless steel instead of plastic.
3. Set (peaceful) alarms (reminders) throughout the day.
If the water bottle within arms reach isn’t enough, set a reminder on your phone to go off throughout the day. Establish a specific goal for how much you want to drink during the period in between alarms, such as three glasses of water before the next reminder goes off.
4. Establish daily goals.
Intention and mindset are key to accomplishing goals, not to mention, the dopamine boost that feels pretty darn good after the goal is accomplished! Setting a daily water intake goal will keep you motivated and accountable. One example is drinking one glass of water for every hour you are at work or home.
5. Focus on your body’s signals.
If you are experiencing extreme thirst, constipation, fatigue, dizziness, infrequent urination and dark colored urine, these could be your body telling you it's time to sip away.
6. Eat more fruits and veggies.
20% of your daily water intake can come from fruits, veggies, and other water-rich foods! Fruits and vegetables have high quantities of water, not to mention vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that improve your overall health. Some of the most water-packed produce items are celery, zucchini, watermelon, lettuce, cauliflower, cantaloupe and honeydew.
7. Flavor your water.
Add some excitement to your cup and infuse your water naturally with herbs or fruits, such as strawberry, cucumber, citrus, basil, and mint. This is also a great way to reduce your consumption of added sugar while still getting a sweet fix. Bonus that fresh fruits and herbs will also infuse some healing (anti-inflammatory) antioxidants into your water.
8. Experiment with herbal teas.
Not only will herbal tea help to hydrate you, but many also have health benefits. For example, hibiscus tea is packed with immune-supporting vitamin C, mint tea aids in digestion, and chamomile promotes a good night’s sleep.
9. Keep track of your hydration through an app.
Utilizing a water tracker app, such as WaterMinder or Drink Water: Daily Reminder allows you to stay on top of your goal, sending you reminders throughout the day and keeping a log of how much you’ve drank throughout the day.
10. Involve a friend.
Make it a challenge to keep each other accountable and see who consistently meets their daily goal. Take the challenge even further by sharing it with family members, work colleagues, or on social media.
Speaking of fun accountability, join Purely Planted’s Hydration Challenge! Starting January 3, 2023, for seven days, you'll get one (simple!) step each day to help keep you hydrated. Follow purely__planted, like the post, and tag a friend to be entered to win fun (hydrating) prizes! Share the post on your Instagram feed or in your story to increase your chances of winning. What's better than achieving hydration goals with friends and winning healthy prizes just by staying hydrated!
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Tracy is a future Registered Dietitian getting her Master's of Nutrition at Georgia State University. She is also an entrepreneur, food blogger, and wellness enthusiast. Follow her journey and get inspired about building a sustainable healthy lifestyle on Instagram at @trulywellwithtracy.