How Much Is Enough Water?: Don’t Let Yourself Get Dehydrated!
It takes surprisingly little to become dehydrated. You only have to lose about 1.5% of your body’s water to tip right into mild dehydration.
This is perhaps why “dehydration” is so often in the news when celebrities collapse. It’s also why you may not feel great on an active day.
Country artist Tim McGraw recently collapsed on-stage due to dehydration. Lady Gaga has had to cancel concert dates because of it. But it’s not only celebrities who don’t get enough water.
In a recent New York Times article, journalist Jean Brody recalled how not enough water plus a gym workout and left her feeling like a “lead balloon.” Miraculously, however, once got hydrated, she felt like “a new person.”
Our lifestyles, with sugary and caffeinated drinks, alcohol, workouts, and stress can lead to dehydration. While we may not lead the whirlwind lives of a pop star like Lady Gaga, even the mild dehydration we often suffer is enough to make us feel bad.
So how can we know when we are dehydrated? How much water is enough? And how much better will proper hydration make you feel? Read on to find out!
How Can I Stay Hydrated?
Firstly, it’s good to remember that water is best. Water is, by far, the most important substance that we consume. Your body simply won’t function without water.
Big companies may try to convince you that their sports drinks or sodas will quench your thirst, but they are simply not as healthy or hydrating as good, old-fashioned water.
If your tastes have been trained for very sugary beverages, and you find it hard to drink enough water, try adding lemon juice, or making an infusion by adding fruit to a pitcher of water. This can add a bit of flavor and make the water more palatable for you.
Remember, when you drink beverages that have sugar and other ingredients that contain calories, you will need to cut those calories from the amount of food you eat in order to not gain weight. Water is a much better choice for dehydration as it provides the good stuff you need for your body without the empty calories.
How Much Water Do I Need to Stay Hydrated?
How much water you need varies by how old you are, how active you are and how much you are sweating. Harvard scientists say that, on average, a healthy person needs 30 to 50 ounces of water a day. This means that you need somewhere between 4 and 6 cups of water a day.
You need more, however, if you are sweating, working out or if you are taking medicine that dehydrates you. This problem is especially common with older people who don’t feel thirsty as often.
In 2016, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton nearly fainted at a public event due to dehydration. She had been diagnosed with pneumonia and was taking medication to fight the infection and reduce congestion. Her dizziness was caused by not drinking enough water to make up the difference (turns out that Secretary Clinton doesn’t like the taste of water either!)
One way to figure out if you are getting enough hydration is to look at your urine. If your urine is dark and cloudy, you probably need to add some water to your day. If your urine is clear and light colored, you’re probably doing ok. Just remember to drink more when you are more active.
What Kinds of Problems will Dehydration Cause?
As the story at the beginning showed us, even mild dehydration can make you feel sick, tired and not yourself.
Other symptoms of dehydration include: headaches, dizziness, inability to concentrate, fatigue and anxiety. Migraines are made worse with dehydration, and being dehydrated can affect your mood, making you feel depressed and sad.
Becoming dehydrated can lead to low blood pressure, weakness, dizziness, and confusion. You’ll be able to remember things much less successfully, and it’s very hard to learn if you are dehydrated.
These are just some of the symptoms and problems caused by dehydration. Others include:
- Bad breath
- Dry skin
- Muscle cramps
Dehydration can also make you a poor driver! Research has shown that the number of errors that people made in a two-hour drive actually doubled when they were dehydrated! This is similar to the number of errors people made while driving while drunk! So even if you are tempted to not drink water to avoid bathrooms stops, don’t be tempted! Stay hydrated!
How Can Hydrating Make Me Feel Better?
Once you set yourself on a plan to stay adequately hydrated, you may be surprised at how much better you feel! Since water is essential to your blood circulation, digestive systems and your ability to regulate your temperature, drinking enough water will have amazing results for you!
Here are some of the great benefits of drinking water:
- It may help weight loss
Studies have found that those who drink water before a meal eat less at the meal. Extra
H2O can help you eat less because it makes you feel more full. There’s also some
evidence that drinking water helps boost your metabolism!
- It helps your digestive system flush out toxins and move waste
Drinking water helps move things along in your digestive system, preventing constipation
And reducing the burden on your kidneys to flush out waste products and toxins. Taking
in enough fluid will help prevent kidneys stones and help your digestive system overall.
- It may help fight some kinds of cancer
Some research shows that bladder cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer rates are
much lower in people who drink enough water.
- It will improve your mood
Even mild dehydration can make you feel sad and cranky. Drinking water is a great way
to lift your spirits!
- It energizes you
That’s right, you don’t necessarily need an energy drink to get a boost! Sleepiness is one
of the first signs of dehydration, so if you’re tired, try drinking a couple of glasses of
- It helps protect your joints and cartilage
Water helps your joints stay lubricated and supple. Hydration is also very important for keeping your spine and neck tissues healthy. Your cartilage- the rubbery stuff that coats and protects your bones- is about 85% water. So drinking enough is essential!
- It helps protect your heart
Studies show that drinking water is linked to lower rates of heart disease (and drinking
soda or juice is linked to higher rates!)
Tips for Staying Hydrated
So now you believe us about the importance of staying hydrated and drinking water, right? So how can you remember to fit this healthy practice into your daily life? Don’t worry, we have some tips for you!
Carry a Water Bottle
Treat yourself to a nice water bottle- maybe one is a great style or one that is insulated to keep the water cold. Then carry the bottle with you! If your water bottle is already in your hand, it will be easier to remember to take sips of the H20 throughout the day.
Invest in a Filter
Whether you have the ability to get filtered water at work, or just are looking for better-tasting water at home, it can help to get a pitcher. Water does taste different in different locations, and you may find filtered water to be more palatable. There are easy-to-find and reasonably priced options for filtered water pitchers at discount stores near you!
Plan Your Water Intake
If you find that you forget to drink more water, try planning your water breaks. Maybe you always get a glass before a meal? Maybe you drink a glass of water after every bathroom break? Figure out when a good time is to plan to sip regularly and make it a habit!
Use an App to Track Your Intake
Some people like a challenge and some like to be held accountable to themselves for what they are doing. If you have a smartphone, there are apps that can help you track your water intake. An app like Apple’s “Daily Drink Reminder” can help you track and in addition will give you reminders!
We hope that this information will help you see how beneficial hydration, and staying hydrated will be for you and your family. Ask Dr. Robert or Dr. Jerry to see their water bottles and discuss with them the benefits of drinking water at your next appointment!