It's easy to think about staying hydrated on a hot day or when you're working up a sweat. But what about an average day at home or the office? How do you know if you are drinking enough water throughout the day? These seven tips will help you maintain proper hydration and recognize common symptoms of dehydration.
1. Drink at least half your weight. Not in pounds, but in ounces. Your body is comprised of nearly 55-65% water. Every organ, tissue, and cell depends on water for proper functioning. Feeling sluggish? That's your brain telling you it's time for more water.
Eight glasses is often suggested, but that doesn't take into account different body types. A better guide is at least half your weight in ounces. So, a 150 lb person should aim toward consuming at least 75 ounces of water daily.
2. Recognize signs of dehydration. Feeling thirsty isn't your body's first signal of needing fluids. A drop in energy, headaches, dizziness, lack of focus, and dry mouth are other indications that your body needs water. Often, the brain's thirst signal is misinterpreted as hunger. So, before reaching for another snack, try a glass of water first.
Many American's function in a state of chronic dehydration. When your body is consistently lacking water, more symptoms may become evident: chronic shoulder tightness, joint pain, back pain, constipation, rapid heart beat, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue, kidney problems, dry skin, heartburn, and weight gain (water helps maintain metabolism).
3. Check your urine. The color of your urine is a great hydration indicator. Ideally, urine should be a very light yellow and odorless. Darker urine often indicates that it's time to increase water intake (though certain vitamins and foods may alter color and smell).
The urine test helps regulate daily hydration needs. Changes in climate, activity, physical exertion, and illness (diarrhea/vomiting) can effect fluid needs.
4. Give it some flavor. Sure, drinking plain water can get monotonous. Add true natural flavor by incorporating fresh produce to your glass. Certain fruits & vegetables have more benefits than just refreshing great taste.
Adding lemon to a glass of warm water can ease constipation. Cucumber helps flush toxins from the body and aids in hydration. Berries help boost antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory.
5. Skip the refueling drinks. Since you can boost water's flavor with beneficial fruits & vegetables, do your body a favor and skip the sugar-laden "sports drinks." Likewise, many of these drinks include artificial colors, synthetic flavors, and caffeine- which may have the reverse effect (acting as a diuretic) and deplete the body of necessary water.
Most activity, unless it involves profuse sweating, doesn't require electrolyte replacement, a simple glass of water is sufficient. In situations where there is extreme fluid loss (heavy sweating, diarrhea, vomiting), rebalancing electrolytes is important. In these cases, stick to coconut water (watch out for brands that add sugar) or cactus water.
6. Post-massage hydration. Most people think about hydrating post-exercise, but post-massage is equally important. During a massage cellular toxins are released and circulation is improved. As these toxins are filtered to the kidneys, drinking water to flush them out of the body is essential.
Drinking water prior to a massage is also beneficial. Muscles that are hydrated are manipulated easier, allowing the massage therapist to reduce muscle fiber adhesions and better release cellular toxins.
7. Schedule your water breaks. Unless you're drinking water throughout the day, it's nearly impossible to fulfill your body's requirements. Starting your morning with a glass (or even half a glass) of water can help boost your metabolism for the day. Set a schedule that works for you- a few ounces every hour perhaps.
Carry a reusable water bottle so there's no excuse to skip a glass if you're spending time in your car or at your desk. Or, fill up a pitcher with a days worth of water (add different fruits for daily variety) and pour each glass from it to ensure you're meeting your body's needs.