Hydration. This is not a new topic and something our bodies remind us about, but do we really need to drink 8 cups of water each day?
The short answer, NO! It could be more, but it could also be less. There are many factors that go into the amount of fluids a person needs. This will depend on your age, sex, activity level, geographic location, etc. If you are a healthy adult that lives in the south and you work outside, you will need more fluids than someone that is built the same as you but has a desk job. This is because the person working outside in the South will sweat much more than the person who lives a sedentary lifestyle.
I have never counted the glasses of water I drink in a day. I pay attention to the color of my urine. It is good to have a yellow tint to your urine, but a darker yellow urine indicates dehydration. It would be a good idea to drink a glass of water at this time. The chart on the left is a great visual of the variety of colors our urine can be. Become familiar with this chart and use it to assess your hydration status.
You may find that your urine is darker in the morning, this is very common. This is because you have gone 6+ hours without and fluids. Keeping a glass of water on your nightstand and drinking it first thing in the morning is a great way to hydrate your body and wake it up to start the day.
The most common signal of dehydration is thirst. If you are thirsty then your body is already becoming dehydrated and needs water now! Other hydration signals are:
- dry mouth and/or lips
- lack of energy
- decreased urine output
- pain in lower back
Okay, now we know the signs and symptoms of dehydration, but why is it so important? First, every part of your body requires fluid: brain, heart, and even muscles. When hydrated, your heart has an easier time pumping blood through your body and to your muscles. Your muscles are also able to perform more efficiently when hydrated.
Toxins seems to be on everyone's mind lately and the cause of many fad diets. To rid your body of toxins you don't need to restrict your diet to juicing for a week. Instead, drink plenty of fluids and eat a "clean" diet (lean protein, complex carbs, healthy fats)!
Does water only count as a hydrating fluid?
NO! Fruits and veggies are packed with water and, when consumed, are a great way to help you stay hydrated. This time of year is especially important to stay hydrated which is why I always have watermelon chilling in the fridge. After working outside, having a few pieces of watermelon is extremely refreshing. This is because it is packed with water! Did you know that watermelon is 93% water! Next time you have to bring a snack for you kids baseball game you might want to consider watermelon-kabobs. Fruit and vegetable juices also count, but be careful of their sugar content. You may want to mix it with 50% juice 50% water.
What about sports drinks?
In general, sports drinks are not needed unless you participated in a high intensity activity, in the heat, for over an hour. This is when you lose a lot of fluid and electrolytes. However, these sports drinks can have more sugar than a candybar. A better option would be to pack some fruit (banana, oranges, strawberries) and some water. This will rehydrate you and provide you with electrolytes.
Tips to Increase Your Fluid Intake
1. Keep a water bottle with you at all times!
2. Add a lemon or fruit slices to your water.
3. Keep sparkling water in your fridge. I love LaCroix and always have it in my fridge. It is a good way to mix things up, without the added sugar and calories.
4. Every morning fill a pitcher of water. Only drink out of that pitcher. It is a good way to track the fluids you consume
If you have any tips to help you increase your fluid intake please comment below.