Foundations of Health I: Hydration

It’s common knowledge that you need to drink water to survive. After all the human body is 50%-65% water, you might, in fact, be drinking some water right now while reading this blog, in which case, good for you! But drinking to quench thirst and to keep hydrated isn’t necessarily the same thing.

It’s a well-known fact that average adult needs to drink about 2 liters of water per day or eight 8oz cups, although your specific water requirements can vary depending on your weight, age, and how physically active you are. Some suggest half an ounce for every pound as an adult, so at 150 lbs, that would be 75 oz or 2.2 liters.  But when was the last time that you can say with 100% certainty that you did indeed drink the full 2 liter requirement (don’t feel bad if you can’t, according to the CBC 75% of Americans fall short).

Often we live under this illusion that we’re getting enough water in our daily lives. We’re busy with work, family, and a myriad of other responsibilities, we get thirsty, and we drink water, or coffee, or soda, or any other sugary drink (sugary drinks which DON’T hydrate, no matter how refreshing it might be). So we drink, and we’re not thirsty anymore, and we think we’re hydrated. 

Well, guess what, we’re not. Lack of thirst does not correlate to a surplus of hydration. Even without sweating, adults usually lose around 4% of water per body weight a day, a loss of even 1% is classified as mild dehydration. The point is, you may not feel thirsty, but that doesn’t mean that your body doesn’t need water.

And even if you do feel thirsty, do you immediately grab a glass of water, or do you put it off for a few hours? Just think about it. Was there ever a time when you were busy working on something, so busy in fact that you ignore your body’s signal to drink some water so long that you stop feeling thirsty? Two hours later, and you still haven’t gotten that glass of water that your body so desperately needed. That is what we call dehydration.

Dehydration is a lack of water in the body (pretty self-explanatory). Dehydration can be mild, moderate, or severe. Symptoms of dehydration include thirst, dry skin, fatigue and weakness, increased body temperature, muscle cramping, headaches, nausea, darker colored urine, and dry mucous membranes.

Symptoms for severe dehydration include muscle spasms, vomiting, dark urine, vision problems, loss of consciousness, kidney, and liver failure.

The point here isn’t to scare you but to encourage you to do something pretty simple that can make a significant impact on your everyday health.

Drink more water.

We know that water is necessary for proper bodily function. So it would make sense that if we’re not getting enough water daily, things might not be working as they should. Even if you think you’re feeling pretty good right now, drink 2 liters of water a day for a month, and you’d be surprised by how big of a difference that makes.

Need some help keeping track of your daily water intake? While it might seem a little difficult to track of eight8oz cups of water per day, (8 glasses is half a glass an hour over 16 waking hours) if you get a bigger cup, like for example a 1-liter water bottle you’ll only have to make sure you’re drinking two of those per day. And don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s from a friend, a family member, or you’re doctor.

Here are some helpful tips to help you on your way to better hydration:

  • Many times when we are craving something, it may be water. Try drinking 4 oz first, wait 1015 minutes, then eat.
  • Try not to drink large quantities of water with your food (especially ice water); it can dilute the digestive process.
  • Sipping small quantities is better than gulping half a liter at one time. Think about wetting a dry sponge; at first, the water just runs off, a little at a time soaks in better.
  • Adding some electrolytes to the water you drink or getting water with electrolytes already in it, can help the water get inside the cells better, which is where water is needed most.

Feel like you might need a little extra help with your health and hydration? Contact Dr. Maggie Fox and make an appointment today.