As most know, water makes up more than 60% of our bodies and is crucial in the majority of our body’s functions. It makes up almost 70% of our brain and heart, 83% of our lungs, 64% of our skin, and 31% of our bones. Water helps keep your temperature regulated, remove nutrients, help your joints move properly, transport nutrients, etc… But at the same time, water is extremely easy to lose. When you breathe, sweat, urinate, and metabolize you lose a big portion of that water and it needs to be replaced as soon as possible for your body to be able to keep functioning properly.
Proper hydration can lead to improved brain performance, better digestion, more energy, weight loss, lessened joint pain, kidney stone prevention, healthier heart, detoxification, and lessened headaches, among others, while poor hydration can pretty much do the opposite.
The rule most people know of when drinking water is the 8×8 rule which entails drinking 8 cups with 8 oz of water a day, but that isn’t always the best case for everyone. It highly depends on gender, climate, physical activity, health, and age. For example, people living in a hot climate need to drink more water than people in colder climates to replace all the sweat being lost. Hydration is also key for sports so if you play any, hydration might just be the key to getting your energy levels up for long practices or games. In general, though, the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine advises men to drink 125 oz of water a day and women to drink 91 oz. If you don’t want to count your ounces though, the best way to know if you’re getting the water you need is by looking at your body. Headaches, migraines, bad sleep, constipation, and lightheadedness are all indicators of dehydration, but the best indicator is your urine color. Pale or clear urine means your body is getting all the liquid it needs while darker or amber colors mean you need to drink more water.
But what actually hydrates you? It might be surprising, but milk is actually one of the best hydrating liquids out there. Aside from a high water percentage, milk contains many vitamins and proteins that help your body gain strength and health. Fruit juices and flavored water are also very good if you get tired of water, but with these, it’s good to choose ones with little to no sugar as it can prevent proper hydration. Coconut water, tea, and sports drinks are also great hydrating liquids. If you ever get tired of the liquids though, most fruits and vegetables are great water sources. Watermelon, lettuce, oranges, tomatoes, and kiwi are just a few examples. On the other hand, there are many drinks that don’t just have little to no hydration benefit, but also dehydrate you further. Soda, alcoholic drinks, hot chocolate, coffee, lemonade, sweet tea, energy drinks, flavored milk, and smoothies are a no-go for hydration. In general, highly sugary or alcoholic drinks will dehydrate you rather than hydrate you.
If you feel like you have trouble keeping yourself hydrated, here are some helpful tips to motivate you. Cold water can be easier to drink for people than warm water. Naturally flavored water provides a nice switch in pace from plain water and can make the task easier. Smaller water bottles are also more recommended than big jugs as those can feel overwhelming and sort of scary. It’s also good to give yourself daily water goals and if you want to go the extra mile keep a journal or use an app to monitor your water intake.
Hydration is highly important for all organisms, and we are no exception to that. It can help with many health issues and will definitely improve how you’re feeling both physically and mentally once you get the trick of drinking the right amount and the right type of beverages down.