Tips For Staying Hydrated & Healthy
Grace Weatherby
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2023

Tips For Staying Hydrated & Healthy

Every day we’re bombarded with messages about things we should take, eat or drink to boost our health.

Take melatonin for better sleep.

Eat fish to improve your heart health.

Drink green tea to stay alert.

And on and on …

It’s a lot to remember and manage, and, frankly, a bit unnecessary given there’s one readily available thing that helps on all those fronts and more. That one thing is water.

Given the bulk of our bodies—80%—are made up of water, it’s really no surprise that staying hydrated is key to good health. Every organ, cell, and tissue depends upon the presence of water to perform properly. Basic body functions like: brain function, waste removal, digestion, metabolism, body temperature regulation, joint lubrication and cushioning; energy levels, and more are all impacted by how much water you do—or don’t—consume in a day.

Beyond acute thirst, failing to drink enough water can lead to:

  • Persistent headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Dull complexion
  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Brain fog
  • Weakened immunity

So how much water is enough water? The answer is ‘it depends.’

Exactly how much water you need to drink each day varies from person to person and day to day. Factors like weather, exercise level, and certain health conditions and medication all influence how much water you should consume. And because the volume of water in our bodies decreases as we get older, even age factors into how much you should consume daily.

Some health experts recommend women consume 11.5 cups of fluid per day while men should aim for 15.5 cups per day. It’s important to note that food typically provides about 20% of your daily water needs, meaning about 80% of your daily fluid intake needs to come from beverages—this includes water, tea, coffees, and any other liquids you consume. The quick math on that suggests that women should drink about nine 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day while men should aim for thirteen 8-ounce glasses.

If you’re spending a lot of time exercising or outdoors in the heat and humidity, you’ll want to up your intake to account for fluid lost through sweat and perspiration.

Ideally, fluids should be consumed gradually throughout the day to ward off dehydration. Eight ounces of water upon rising, a glass with every meal, a glass in between meals, whenever you feel thirsty, and before, during and after exercise should be sufficient.

Signs you’re not consuming enough water may include dark-colored urine and excessive thirst.  If you notice either of these symptoms, up your intake.

A note for people with heart failure:
Consuming too much water can force your heart to work harder than necessary. If you have a heart condition, ask your doctor how much water is right for you.

 

Sarah Ludwig, ATC, DPT with a special interest in the athletic and vestibular patient populations, is a certified physical therapist at SVMC Outpatient Rehabilitation.

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