By Katrina Darling
We all know that drinking water and staying hydrated is important, right? It’s been ingrained into our subconscious since we were young. But what does being hydrated do for us? Why is it important, and how much should we be drinking?
Water makes up more than half (60%) of your body weight, and our body depends on water to survive. Drinking enough water each day is necessary to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, keep organs functioning properly, and much more.1 Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood. Experts recommend drinking roughly 11 cups of water per day for the average woman and 16 cups of water per day for the average man.(1) However, different people need different amounts of water to stay hydrated.
Furthermore, if you don’t drink enough water, you may become dehydrated. This means that your body doesn’t have enough fluid to perform necessary daily functions. Mild dehydration (fluid loss of 1–3%) can impair energy levels, impair mood, and lead to major reductions in memory and brain performance. You lose water from common everyday activities such as going to the bathroom, exercising, breathing, etc which makes it especially important to hydrate throughout the day.(2)
Some people are at an increased risk of dehydration and need to be more cognizant of their intake. This includes those who exercise frequently at high intensities or in extremely hot conditions, those with certain medical conditions (kidney stones, bladder infection), those who are sick (fever, vomiting, diarrhea), those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people who are trying to lose weight, and older adults. Some signs that could indicate dehydration include: dark yellow urine, little or no urine, dry mouth, sleepiness or fatigue, headache, extreme thirst, confusions, dizziness or lightheadedness, or lack of tears when crying.(3)
Need help reaching your hydration goals? Here are a few tips that might help:
Drink a bottle of water right when you get up in the morning to set yourself up for success early!
Set a timer to remind yourself to drink regularly throughout the day, and meet your hydration goals.
If you don’t like the taste of plain water, feel free to flavor your water with fruit infusions like lemons, strawberries, or oranges.
Get a water bottle and keep it with you all day long. This provides an added cost saving bonus if you fill it up with tap water throughout the day!
If you workout, make sure you are drinking water before, during, and after your workout to limit the risk of dehydration.
When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. Thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water. Drinking water may also contribute to a healthy weight-loss plan. Some research suggests that drinking water can help you feel full.
Opt for water instead of a sugary cocktail when you’re eating out.
Make sure that you get enough water each day - It’s one of the best things you can do for your overall health.
News. 2021. The Importance Of Hydration. [online] Available at: <https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/the-importance-of-hydration/#:~:text=Drinking%20enough%20water%20each%20day,quality%2C%20cognition%2C%20and%20mood.> [Accessed 5 January 2021].
staff, f., 2021. Hydration: Why It's So Important - Familydoctor.Org. [online] familydoctor.org. Available at: <https://familydoctor.org/hydration-why-its-so-important/> [Accessed 5 January 2021].
Mayo Clinic. 2021. Dehydration - Symptoms And Causes. [online] Available at: <https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086> [Accessed 5 January 2021].