Why is Staying Hydrated Important for Optimal Health?
Some of my clients call me the “hydration lady”. (Yes. Water is that important!) One of the very first things I establish with clients is a solid hydration status. Why? Without adequate hydration your body can’t function at its optimal level to meet your goals.
Did you know that water makes up approximately 60-70% of total body weight of an adult? Water is the largest component of the human body and is nearly every bodily process depends on it. That’s right! Water is something we need to be paying attention to in order thrive.
5 Major Functions Water:
Regulation of body temperature. Think sweating is annoying or gross? Think again! Sweating helps regulate our body temperature…it keeps us cool on those hot days and during exercise. Remember to replenish to avoid dehydration!
Maintenance of blood volume. Dehydration causes a decrease in the volume of blood in the body. It negatively impacts blood circulation to tissues in the body such as the heart causing unnecessary strain.
Transportation of nutrients. Nutrients from the foods you eat are transported by water, especially the B-Complex and C vitamins. These vitamins are water soluble meaning that they are dissolved and carried to tissues throughout the body by water.
Major player in cellular reactions. Without enough water, chemical reactions in your cells won’t take place. Keep drinking adequate fluid daily to help your cells reproduce, flourish, and rejuvenate.
Aids with absorption, digestion, and excretion. Water keeps your entire digestive system running smoothly by creating saliva to help break down foods, softening stool to prevent constipation, and rehydrating the body after bouts of diarrhea. What about those unwanted toxins? Help the kidneys and liver flush out toxins and other metabolism by-products by getting your daily fluids in.
How Much Water Do I Need?
Start by finding your baseline water intake. This is the amount of fluid you are currently drinking daily (not including the caffeinated, alcoholic, and sugary beverages). If you are active and sweating throughout the day, exercise, or have a high fiber diet you need extra water. Don’t forget to bump the intake on those hot summer days and keep up the intake during the cold, winter months. Your body even loses water faster at high elevations (drink extra if you live or adventure above 5,000 feet). Dehydration can happen at any time!
A good way to check your hydration status is to check the color of your urine. Dark yellow urine indicates that you should up your intake, while a clear/pale yellow is ideal. Personally, I aim for a minimum of 3 liters (100 oz.) of water per day! Keep in mind that if you have any medical conditions like heart or kidney disease, your healthcare providers may recommend a different amount.
Where do you measure up?
Less than 1 liter/day? Bump your intake to 1 L daily.
I drink about 1 liter daily. You’re doing great, but let’s add more! Aim for 1.5 L/day and gradually increase your fluids over time. (Hint: Drink an extra 8 oz/day every day of the week).
Greater than 2 liters/day? Yay you! Keep it up!
*1 liter = ~34 oz.
Practical Tips for Drinking More Water
Start small. Jumping all in to a health goal is not the way to go. Start small with your water intake goal and increase it gradually over time as you reach those milestones. This way you will build a habit and create sustainable changes. Don’t know where to start? Try adding 8 oz. of water per day to your current intake.
Treat yo’ self. Buy a nice reusable water bottle and keep it with you wherever you go. This way you will always have water nearby to reach your daily goals all while reducing your plastic use. Any type of reusable water bottle is wonderful, but I especially love the stainless steel insulated bottles. My water stays at the perfect temperature no matter what.
Have a goal. Establish your baseline water intake and create a new goal (your desired fluid intake/day). Keep yourself accountable, but be gentle if you don’t make it every day. A daily average of 2 liters or greater of water/day is the ultimate goal! (Try this: Drink 2 liters before you head home from work for the day.)
Don’t like the taste? Try infusing your water with fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. One of my favorites is water infused with cucumber, watermelon, and mint. Delicious!
Bonus! Some foods (fruits and vegetables) that contain large amounts of water can help with your daily fluid intake too! Raw fruits and vegetables such as celery, watermelon, and strawberries, and broccoli are packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in addition to having a high water content.
The health benefits of proper hydration are immense. Hydration is just as important as fueling your body with tasty, nutritious foods, so don’t forget to drink up! Seriously. Every cell in your body will thank you.
How are you hydrating today?
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Krause’s Food & the Nutrition Care Process 14th Edition