Greetings! I was sitting here watching the movie Waterworld for the first time and became inspired to write about, well, water.
I am BLOWN away on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis with the amount of individuals whom I am certain do not drink enough water for optimal health. What shocks me even further is when someone says they “don’t like the taste of water.” What the…? You mean that tasteless, plain, clear stuff that is essential for life? Ok…
Here is a fun fact about water: you need it to live. Don’t drink much of it? Here are some problems you can face if you are anti-hydration:
- Fatigue. Although I am a big fan of coffee myself, coffee is not the solution for persistent fatigue; water is. Caffeine may give you that little zing it takes to get going, but we all know it wears off eventually, which leads us to reach for it again…and again…and again. Meanwhile, all that caffeine is increasing the frequency by which you pee…leading to further dehydration…and subsequently even more fatigue.
- Kidney stones. Without a shadow of a doubt, the #1 reason an individual develops kidney stones is inadequate hydration. There are other factors that can contribute, but chronic dehydration takes the cake. Period. Read more here.
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs). Without consistent urine output throughout the day, bacteria have more of a chance to set up shop in your urinary tract. If you’ve never had a UTI, you’re lucky. I used to get them frequently as a child, so I learned this lesson the hard way. They. Hurt.
- Dry skin. Although the lip balm and lotion industry moguls won’t tell you this, drinking adequate water is the #1 way to ensure your lips and skin stay moisturized. Some people have dry skin no matter what (I happen to be one of them). No matter how much water I drink, I have dry feet, lips, and hands most of the time. However, I can still notice increased dryness when I am not drinking enough water. Furthermore, you need just as much (if not more) water in the winter as you need in the summer.
- Difficulty with critical thinking. The brain is composed (or supposed to be composed) of more than 70% water. Your brain cannot possibly function optimally when chronically dehydrated.
- Headaches. Although there are countless causes of headaches, dehydration is on the short list. The next time you get an unexpected headache, retrace your water intake over they past 24 hours. I think you might just find a correlation.
- Constipation. The two most common causes of constipation are inadequate fiber and inadequate water. What often happens though, is a constipated person thinks “oh, I’ll just take some Metamucil! That’ll do the trick!” However, increasing fiber intake without increasing water intake will only make you more constipated. Fiber & water & your gut are all BFFs. Try not to separate them. Fiber + water = softer turds.
There are all sorts of calculations for fluid intake; some are more likely to be accurate than others. And we’ve all heard the “drink 8 (8 oz) glasses of water per day” adage. However, estimated fluid needs depend on many factors such as physical activity, humidity, etc.; so needs amongst individuals can vary widely.
It’s not that difficult to achieve optimal hydration. Most people need to aim for a minimum of about 60-80 ounces of water per day. Some people need close to double that amount. We also obtain some water from the foods we eat, especially vegetables and fruit (see, one more reason to eat them!).
While technically all fluids count toward your hydration, you benefit from making most of your fluid intake come from water. Caffeinated beverages count against you, so try to drink twice as much water as caffeinated beverages (2 mugs of water for every mug of coffee, for example). This strategy is not a “get out of jail free card” for drinking all the coffee you want; still try to limit your coffee intake to 2-3 cups per day.
Sugary beverages create far more harm than good, so limiting/avoiding them is prudent (soda, lemonade, sweet tea, fruit juice, Koolaid, etc.). While it seems all the rage to put that fake-sugar stuff in your water, stop it! First of all, eating or drinking neon colored anything is not good for you. (I can’t believe I have to say that, but I do.) Second, artificial sweeteners have been found to be damaging to the good bacteria in your gut. Why does this matter? The health of your gut is the absolute end-all-be-all-foundation of your health. If your gut is unhealthy, rest assured that many other aspects of your health will be too. Take care of your pooper! We want to promote the health of the good bacteria in there, not destroy it. Fake sugar is not better than real sugar; they both are things to avoid as best as humanly possible.
Water infusion is a great way to flavor water with some benefits and no risk. Although it sounds fancy, water infusion simply entails you putting a small bit of something in your water, such as a piece of lemon or lime. Try a hunk of cucumber. Throw a slice of orange in there. Some put herbs, spices, and/or combinations of fruits together. Unsweetened brewed herbal tea (consumed hot or iced) is another risk-free beneficial way to drink plenty of water. I bought a coconut mango tea the other day that was delish. Get crazy!
Until next time, bottoms up!