It’s hot out there.
We’re in the middle of summer here in south-central Pennsylvania, and all over the news I hear about the heat, its dangers, and how people are trying to keep cool. We’re always told to “make sure we drink enough water,” but during this hectic, hot time of year, it can be extremely difficult to not get dehydrated, even when we’re not actively exercising. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve realized just how dry my mouth is only at the end of a long day because my day was so busy, whether I’m working, enjoying a day trip away, or spending time outdoors with family. But really, does how much water I drink in a day actually impact my health? In short, yes. And if you, like me, want glowing, younger-looking skin, bounding energy, and to maintain a healthy weight, read on. And drink up!
Did you know that our bodies are made up of mostly water? It’s true – about half to two-thirds of your body is plain old H20! All of the body’s cells are bathed in a watery bath of electrolytes, minerals, hormones, and other nutrients and chemical signals; like a raft floating in a lake or river, these molecules need adequate fluid to transport them across cell walls (and throughout the body) so that they can reach their destination and do their jobs to keep our body’s organs working, communicating, and balanced. It then makes sense that this “osmotic balance” is crucial to our health. In fact, the negative effects of dehydration can occur after losing as little as 2% of our body weight in water.
Without adequate hydration, the body gets stressed, which can show itself in a variety of ways, including:
- headaches, fatigue/low energy, difficulty concentrating, and moodiness
- signs of organ stress: urinary tract infections, increased heart rate, and kidney stones
- dull and/or blemished skin
Water helps cleanse the body, allowing it to more easily flush away toxins that accumulate from our diet and everyday environment. It’s also very filling – often times hunger pangs are actually the body calling for water, and drinking a glass can quiet a growling tummy as well as give you that extra energy boost you need in the middle of your afternoon (try this tomorrow rather than reaching for that 3 o’clock frap or candy bar)! Plus, water has ZERO calories and keeps your digestive system moving along…what a bonus for your waistline! H20 is also a wonderful asset to your skin; it helps plump it up, smooth out wrinkles and lines, and decrease blemishes. A hydrated face is happy face!
Okay, so water is great, right? However, drinking just plain water all of the time can be so boring and tasteless! That’s why I’ve searched for easy and/or tasty ways to incorporate more of this wonderful molecule into my daily diet. Check them out for yourself:
- Coconut water: full of electrolytes like potassium and magnesium, this is a tasty
way to get your H20, especially after a sweaty workout. It’s basically nature’s sports drink!
- Make it an AM ritual: drink a glass of water first thing in the morning (set a reminder on your phone until it becomes second nature!); then, you’ve already got 8oz. down, and doing so helps get your metabolism going too! Bonus!
- Infused it: Add sliced fruit and herbs to your water
pitcher (allow to sit a few hours before drinking) for a sweet or citrus-y pick-me-up! My personal favorites include lemon & lime and strawberry & mint. It’s so delicious, and you’ll get some of the added health benefits of the herbs and fruits you include! I use the plastic infuser (pictured here) to keep all the fruit together in the pitcher, but it’s totally not necessary!
- Make it your travel companion: buy a cute, BPA-free reuseable bottle (I like SIGG stainless steel 1L bottles) and fill it up before you leave the house each morning and keep refilling as necessary. Set a goal for yourself, like aiming to drink one liter by lunch!
- Eat it: Consuming high-water-content foods can definitely help you hydrate, and at this time of year, many of these foods are naturally in season. Perfect! Focus on fruits and vegetables (like cucumber, melons, peppers, leafy greens, berries, eggplant, tomatoes, etc.) and you’ll be sure to pick up a good percentage of your daily water intake. You can even pile them into a smoothie!
Finally, in terms of how much to drink, the jury’s really out. The common adage is “8 glasses per day,” and another frequent guideline is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day (so, if you’re 150 lbs, aim to get 75 oz today). And it’s not exactly pleasant, but you can also always check in the toilet: urine should be pale yellow if you’re well-hydrated (and not on any medications that effect urine color).
Are you a water drinker? What do you like to add to your H20 to “spice it up”? What other tips would you add to make hydration more fun?