Do you think you drink enough water? How much water is enough water? How often should I drink throughout the day? These are often questions one does not ask themselves throughout the day, however they are crucial questions to consider when trying to optimize your health.
By the time you realize you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated! Dehydration is a delayed thirst mechanism, meaning that by the time your brain reminds you that you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. Water is an essential component to staying healthy, energized, and vibrant. The general rule of thumb to staying properly hydrated is to consume half your bodyweight in ounces daily (for example, a person weighing 180lbs should consume 90oz of water per day).
Not drinking enough water is associated with mental fatigue, weakness, inability to sweat and dizziness. If severely dehydrated, some symptoms may include vomiting, nausea, and possibly death. Often times throughout the day we are so consumed with our tasks at hand that we forget to drink water or any other hydrating beverages. Aside from the negative aspects of not being hydrated, what are some of the positive reasons to stay hydrated and how can you drink more water throughout the day?
1. For those of you who are trying to lose weight and improve your body composition, staying hydrated is crucial. Drinking a glass of cold water forces your metabolism to increase in order to warm the water to resting body temperature. This increased activity causes you to burn a few extra calories and is a great way to jump start your body in the morning!
2. Increase your energy! When you are feeling fatigued and sluggish try drinking a glass of water to power up. The blood in our body is composed of 2/3 water. Water aids the blood in our bodies to deliver nutrients and oxygen to different cells.
3. Decrease Stress. Our brains are composed of approximately 85% water. When our bodies are dehydrated this places increased stress on our brains causing a physiological increase in stress hormones. This increased stress can cause headaches and fogginess which makes even the simplest of work tasks seem more difficult and overwhelming.
4. Improve Athletic Performance. Drinking more water allows your muscles to function optimally. When muscles are dehydrated they often cramp and fatigue at a rapid rate. In addition muscles become sore more quickly and with less activity. When properly hydrated you are able to participate in your sport of choice for longer with increased intensity and stamina.
5. Appearance of Skin. With proper hydration comes optimal appearance of our skin. Our skin is the largest organ of our body. When we think of organs we typically think of all the good stuff inside however our skin is the biggest and the one everyone sees! Skin is typically more smooth and naturally more moisturized when proper hydration is achieved.
6. Helps Your Kidneys Filter Toxins. One of the main jobs of your kidneys is to filter the toxins out of your blood and eliminate them through urination. To help filter your blood most efficiently your kidneys require water! Water aids in preventing kidney stones, as well as prevents urinary tract infections.
7. Healthier Digestive System. Drinking sufficient amounts of water aids in proper digestion and keeps your digestive system working optimally. Increased water intake decreases constipation and enables you to properly metabolize food and vitamins.
Now that you have some motivation to pay attention to your hydration status, here are 3 tips on how to make drinking water more palatable and how to make staying hydrated easier.
1. Flavor your water! Sometimes water alone just doesn’t do the trick. Try adding some frozen berries or cucumbers to your water to change up the taste. Flavoring your water may make it more appealing to those who have trouble staying on top of their hydration game.
2. Carry a bottle of water with you everywhere! Out of sight, out of mind is true for many things in life and staying hydrated is one of them. Carrying water with you everywhere will make you more likely to drink. Keeping hydration in the forefront of your mind will help you in succeeding with this new healthy habit.
3. Use an App. Free apps like waterlogged are terrific for tracking how much water you drink as well as for sending reminders to drink more water.
Dr. Jeremy L. Cohen, PT, DPT PES is the Owner/Director of Physical Therapy and Performance Enhancement Specialist at Mindful Movement Physical Therapy in Staten Island, New York.