Your body and overall health depends on water, literally needing it to survive. Our bodies are mainly made up of water and maintaining homeostasis is crucial not only for surviving but for thriving. Every cell, tissue, organ, nerve, and muscle relies on water to work and function optimally. You’ve heard the expression “a well oiled machine” ,so consider your body “a well watered machine”. It works better, and you feel better, when it’s adequately hydrated.
Water in the body is responsible for so many critical key functions as well as providing important health benefits.
See below for some of H2O’s jobs:
delivers oxygen throughout the body
regulates heart rate
balances blood pressure
controls body temperature
keeps organs working well
brain health (cognition, focus, memory)
delivers nutrients to cells
maintains healthy metabolism
aids regularity bowel movements)
removes waste (through urine)
When you are dehydrated your body and brain will send you signals. Feeling thirsty means you’re already dehydrated! Some signs include confusion, dizziness, fatigue, dull skin, dry mouth, and more severe signs such as anxiety, rapid breathing, weak pulse, or difficulty moving.
For more serious cases of dehydration, electrolyte balance must be addressed. A decrease in water intake can affect performance in daily activity or in sport, but a large decrease can have major health consequences.
Proper hydration also includes proper electrolyte balance. Electrolytes, which include potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium are lost through profuse sweating and those electrolytes should be replaced. There are different hydration supplements on the market like electrolyte powders or potassium citrate powders, but often they contain fillers, added colours, flavours, or sugars. Don't even get me started on Gatorade! Be sure to read the labels on the supplements to check the ingredients. A better addition to your water, instead of a fake powder or drinking a sportade, is to simply add salt (Sea or Himalayan) to your water.
Most dehydration, if not a severe case, can be fixed and even avoided by simply drinking H2O. The problem is many people aren't drinking enough water, either due to a busy schedule or because they prefer to drink other liquids. Remind yourself to drink up by keeping a large reusable bottle nearby. Adding lemon, cucumber, berries, or mint to enhance the flavour can help you if you struggle with consumption.
There are other ways to ensure you are reaching your H2O intake goals besides just drinking water. Consuming foods with high water content, drinking green juices, sipping herbal teas, and slurping broth are all alternate ways to increase water levels.
See below for some hydrating foods:
Fruits (apples, watermelon and other melons, grapes, pineapple, oranges, pears)
Vegetables (celery, cucumber, lettuce, bell peppers, spinach, squash, broccoli)
Soup broth (bone, vegetable)
There are also things that you may be doing or consuming that are dehydrating you even when you are drinking your water. Certain foods or lifestyle habits can decrease your water levels.
See below for some dehydrating foods:
Caffeine (coffee, energy drinks)
Salty snacks (prepackaged and high in sodium)
Soy sauce and other condiments
If you consume any of these dehydrating foods be sure to have an extra glass of water to make up for any water loss.
So how much water should you be drinking? A daily suggestion is 8-10 glasses. This is just a general guideline however, as gender, climate, and activity levels will all play a role in determining the amount of daily water needed. The colour of your urine should be light in colour. A recommendation of drinking half of your body weight in the same amount in ounces of water is a good baseline, adding more if needed eg. hot climate, intense exercise, coffee or alcohol consumption, etc. Aim for at least 2L of water per day!
Prioritize drinking H2O! Water will aid digestion, support metabolism, improve physical performance, enhance cognitive ability, improve skin health, and keep your body functioning optimally. So drink up!