Keys to Staying Hydrated

We all need fluids in our body to live and function normally.  Staying properly hydrated is a little more work than trying to drink 8 to 12 glasses of water a day.

We get thirsty when we need more fluids.  It’s the simplest sign you need to drink water or another hydrating fluid.  Not drinking enough fluids leads to dehydration.  Dehydration is serious and potentially life-threatening.  We can only live 5 to 7 days without water.  During extreme dehydration, the damage to vital organs is severe. Signs of dehydration are little or no urine, dry mouth, fatigue, extreme thirst, and headaches, confusion, and dizziness.

Staying hydrated and healthy starts with drinking enough water.  You can get fluids from other places but water is where you should start.  The recommendation is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day.  If you weigh 120 pounds, you should drink 60 ounces of water a day.  That’s the equivalent of almost 8 cups of water a day.

Drinking water regularly is habit forming.  When you’re at the gym, drink water several times during your workout.  If you’re at work, bring a water bottle. Have water with every meal.  In the later evening make sure you’re not thirsty.  Don’t go to bed thirsty.  These are some of the ways you build habits around drinking water.

A second way to stay hydrated is to eat more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Fruits and vegetables contain ample water.  Eating them puts water into your system.  You get a healthy snack and a contribution to your hydration at the same time.  In the US, the proportion of water people get from food intake is estimated at around 20%.

Some of the fruits and vegetables with the highest water content are:

  • Bell peppers
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Citrus fruit
  • Cucumber
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

You need to build good habits around eating fruits and vegetables too.  Plan your meals.  Add fruits and vegetables to your daily diet. Make sure they are on your shopping list.  You need to be creative with fruits and vegetables.  You’ll get bored if you try to pick up an apple every day and eat it.  Get creative in the kitchen.  Combine your fruits and vegetables and make smoothies.

The third thing you need to do is exercise.  Exercise improves circulation and can improve your overall electrolyte levels. You’re going to get thirsty when you exercise.  Have your water bottle handy.  Know where you can find drinking fountains.  Drink a glass of water before you exercise, one during and one after you exercise.

It’s easy to make bad choices when trying to stay hydrated.  Sugary drinks, for example, have fluid in them but they also have calories.  One can of soda contains 10 to 13 teaspoons of sugar.  That’s not a healthy alternative to water.  Other bad choices include high calorie fruit juices and vegetable juices. Energy drinks are high in caffeine and sugar.  Lastly, alcohol dehydrates you.  Drinking a couple of beers on a hot afternoon doesn’t hydrate you.  You’re going to need to supplement the alcohol with water to stay hydrated.

Be more conscious of your water-drinking habits.  Let thirst be your guide.  If you’re tired, irritable, hungry or thirsty ….. Drink water! You will instantly feel better and more energized.