First and foremost, what exactly is hydration? It is the process of causing something--in this case, your body--to absorb water. Every organ, tissue, cell in your body depends on water to be able to function properly. Your body uses fluids to help maintain the optimal temperature, grease your joints, deliver nutrients to cells, prevent infections, and remove waste from your system.
A passage to a Healthier You
Essentially, water is vital to survive and stay alive, but how much liquid does your body really need to stay healthy, and how much water is too much that it becomes unhealthy?
The crucial part to staying hydrated is to drink water on a regular basis. You’ve may have heard before that a person should drink around 6 to 8, 8-ounce glasses of water every day to stay healthy. That is, in general, a reasonable amount of water to take on a daily basis. However, the amount of water to drink regularly is not a one-size-fits-all regime, the amount of water to need to stay healthy may be different from others. Some people can stay pretty well hydrated day by day by drinking more than 8 glasses of water and other fluids, some only whenever they feel thirsty, and that can fall below the ‘8 glasses of water’ benchmark.
Gearaholic has a variety of great water bottles you can carry wherever you go to maintain a healthy hydrated lifestyle, likeNalgene’s 16oz / 500ml Narrow Mouth BPA Free Water Bottle for everyday use!
Water is Key
How does hydration move through the body? Water is mostly absorbed by the body through the early segments of the small intestine, while a small portion of the water you take is absorbed through the stomach and colon. Water molecules are then transported and distributed throughout your body via blood circulation.
Now while plain water is key, other drinks and foods can help you stay hydrated, too! Milk, herbal teas, Fruit, and vegetable juices are great sources to help keep your body healthy and hydrated every day.
Fruits and vegetables are great sources of water, like watermelon, oranges, cucumber, lettuce, and spinach. Eating soup-based meals are also good alternatives to stay hydrated.
Caffeine, when taken moderately, can also help contribute to your daily water intake and keeps you energized throughout the day. About 400 milligrams of caffeine is what’s considered moderate, and is not harmful for most people. To help you have a better grasp of how much caffeine you take on a daily basis, here are the average caffeine amounts in popular drinks:
- 8 ounces of black coffee: 80 to 100 milligrams
- 8 ounces of green or black tea: 30 to 50 milligrams
- 8-ounce energy drink: 40 to 250 milligrams
- 12 ounces of soda: 30 to 40 milligrams
Stanley’s adventureShortstack Travel Mug is perfect for holding your hot coffee when on the go, and you can easily purchase one at Gearaholic!
Though caffeine may help contribute your water intake, it is still better to limit your daily caffeine drinks. Caffeine may cause you to feel anxious or jittery, caffeine can even cause some people to urinate more frequently. And on another note, be careful on the caffeinated drinks you take, for some may add unwanted calories from sugar and may ruin your diet.
Sports drinks are helpful if you plan on doing physical activities at higher than normal levels for longer periods. Sports drinks usually contain electrolytes and carbohydrates that help your body absorb water efficiently and boost your energy. Do note, however that some sports drinks have high calories from the added sugar to the solution. Some sports drinks may also contain high amounts of sodium (salt) and caffeine, so be sure to check the label before you drink!
Energy drinks are also good alternatives to stay hydrated and energized, but they are not the same as sports drinks. Energy drinks usually contain large quantities of caffeine and contain ingredients that overstimulate the body, like ginseng, taurine, or guarana. These ingredients are not needed by your body for nutrients, and the majority of these drinks are high in sugar content. As advised by doctors, children and teens should not have energy drinks.
Nalgene’s 32oz / 1L Narrow Mouth BPA Free Water Bottle’s large capacity is best suited for when doing physical activities, available at Gearaholic!
Here are some helpful tips to stay hydrated
- Keep a bottle of water with you wherever you go. Carry a reusable water bottle and fill it with the liquid of your choice, this also helps reduce your overall costs in staying hydrated.
- If you don’t fancy the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to flavor your water.
- Make sure to drink water before, during, and after workouts.
- Thirst can often be confused with hunger, try to drink water when you’re feeling hungry. This habit can also contribute to a healthy weight-loss plan.
- Drink your water on a schedule if you have trouble remembering to rehydrate. Schedule your water drinking right after waking up, during meals like breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and right before going to bed. You can also try drinking your water in small glasses at hourly intervals.
- Drink water whenever you dine in a restaurant. It will keep you hydrated for free!
Points to Ponder
Not drinking enough water can make you dehydrate, meaning your body lacks enough fluid to function properly, and this can lead to serious complications.
Your urine is a great indicator if you are well hydrated or not. If the color of your urine ranges from colorless to a light yellow, that means you are hydrated well. If it’s in a dark yellow or amber in color, this could be an indicator that you are dehydrated.
Some signs that your body is dehydrated include the following:
- Dry Mouth
- Darker than usual urine color
- Little to no urine
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Absence of tears whilst weeping
- Extreme thirst
It is important to note that some people have a higher risk of dehydration, like those who exercise with vigor over long periods or under hot weather, people that have certain existing medical conditions like kidney stones, urinary tract infections, people that are sick, pregnant or breastfeeding, people that are on a weight-loss program. Age also plays a factor in dehydration as older adults are at a higher risk.
How important is it to stay hydrated? Water makes up about 60% of your total body weight, and you lose water on a regular basis; when taking bathroom breaks, through sweating, even breathing. You lose water in your body at a faster rate under hot weather, when exercising, or when you are sick.
What Makes Hydration Unhealthy?
Staying hydrated and healthy is good and all, but just like most things in life, too much of a good thing can be bad. Hyponatremia is a low sodium concentration in the blood that can occur when you drink too much water that you dilute your body’s sodium levels. Though a much rarer illness than dehydration, the problem can still raise concerns, according to Larry Kenny, PhD, a professor of physiology and kinesiology at Penn State.
Ask your Doctor!
Here are some questions to help you in your quest to stay hydrated with your next visit to your doctor:
- What are liquid alternatives to stay hydrated if I don’t like the taste of water?
- What are foods that I can add to flavor to my water?
- What happens if I don’t take as much fluids as recommended?
- What is my body telling me if I’m not urinating often even though I drink a lot of liquids?
- Does alcohol intake affect the hydration of my body?
There’s a reason why water is the most important substance in the world. Crucial in both macroscopic and microscopic levels, it’s responsible for the forming of life on our planet and keeping the tiniest of our cells going. So don’t miss out on your water today!