Yesterday I told you that I have been battling dehydration for a while, and to be honest, this is something I struggle with on a fairly regular basis. I never drink enough water. And to make matters worse, I sweat a lot, all the time – even in the winter. And let me tell you, dehydration sucks. Because it’s summer, and I read a lot of “wellness” blogs, I have been reading a whole lot about dehydration and drinking enough water recently. So I thought it might be a good idea to provide you with some facts and tips to avoid dehydration – regardless of the season.
Signs of Dehydration
When I get dehydrated, I start to feel sluggish both physically and mentally. Studies have shown that cognitive focus, attention span, and even mood can decrease when one is dehydrated, and I definitely feel that. I also get non-specific pains in my abdomen, and I often feel nauseated. These are typical signs of dehydration, although the way it presents itself in any individual is often variable. Obviously, paying attention to when you are thirsty is important, but it is also important to remember that only drinking water when you are thirsty can often put yourself at risk of dehydration in the summer months, when you are sweating more.
How Much Water?
Some people say that everyone should drink about 8 glasses of water a day. While that’s a nice general rule, it’s not really accurate. Everyone has different water intake needs, depending on their weight, their body composition, even the clothes that they wear. Because everyone sweats differently, everyone has different needs! Apparently, halving your body weight and putting that into liquid ounces is the best way to estimate your daily needs. So if a person weighs 150 pounds, they should drink 75 ounces (or 2.2 liters) per day.
Benefits of Water
Beyond staving off dehydration, water has a myriad of benefits. It helps flush out toxins from the body (especially when you put some lemon in there!). Water improves your metabolism, your skin, your sleep. Because water is such an important part of our body’s make up, drinking enough ensures that all of our beautifully complex systems continue working as they should!
That being said, there is such a thing as water toxicity, and being constantly thirsty is a sign that something is wrong. However, these are not things that the general public needs to worry about.
If you’re anything like me, you find it almost impossible to get yourself to drink water. No judgment! But scouring the web has given me some great ideas for how to increase water intake.
1) Invest in a Water Bottle – It might seem silly, but having a water bottle that you truly love – that you find convenient, pretty, and useful – is hands down the best way to remind yourself to drink more water. I love this one: bkr® bottle, but I have also heard great things about these:Aquasana 18-Ounce Glass Water Bottles, which come in a pack of 6.
2) Get Creative with your Water! – Throw some citrus, berries, herbs, or all three into a jug of water and call it a party! No one said your water has to be boring! Or make ice cubes with fruit frozen inside, and make it even easier to add some flavor to your water on the go!
I also really like to chug some Nuun after a sweaty run, which has less sugar than regular sports drinks. But Nuun also makes a tablet for the non-sweaty parts of your day, which I have been eager to try: Nuun All Day Hydration. I also really like the idea of making ice cubes with fruit frozen inside,
3) Make a Plan – I recently read about a fantastic rule to get yourself to drink more water on a daily basis, and I think it is worth sharing. Split your goal intake up over your day, and stick to it. Before you have your second cup of coffee for the day, make sure you’ve hit your morning goal. No lunch before you hit the mid-day goal. And don’t even think about brushing your teeth before you’ve hit your final, evening mark! Having little placeholders in mind can really help form a habit.
Things to Remember
Drinking coffee or caffeinated tea doesn’t necessarily negate the amount of water you’ve been drinking and can help you meet your hydration goals. Just don’t drink too much, and the diuretic effects of coffee will be negligible.
Eating salty foods can help your body retain water if you are already feeling the effects of dehydration. However, this is not a substitute for drinking water!
A cup of water has 8 ounces, and there are about 34 ounces in a liter. (I hate doing conversions!)