We always highlight the importance of drinking water before and after your sauna sessions to avoid dehydration and help the detoxifying process, but what are some other reasons to stay hydrated? From improved brain performance to weight loss, read on to learn more about why proper hydration is important for your overall health and find tips for staying hydrated every day.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
Before getting started with the benefits of hydration for health, it’s important to know how much water you should aim to drink. You’ve probably heard the general guideline to drink eight 8oz glasses of water a day. However, how much water you need depends on many factors and varies from person to person. The general recommendation for adults is about 11.5 cups (92oz) a day for women and 15.5 cups (124oz) a day for men.
For a more personalized amount, you should aim to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh every day. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, you should aim to drink between 90-180 ounces of water a day. While you should aim to drink at least one ounce of water per pound of body weight, that amount may increase based on a number of factors. Aside from weight, how much water you need also depends on your activity levels, climate/temperature/season, diet, medical conditions, and overall health.
If you are not drinking enough water, you run the risk of dehydration. Common symptoms of dehydration to look out for include little or no urine, urine that is darker than usual, dry mouth, sleepiness or fatigue, extreme thirst, headache, confusion, dizziness, lightheadedness, and muscle cramps.
The Importance of Staying Hydrated
Better Temperature Regulation
When you’re dehydrated, your body stores more heat and lowers your ability to tolerate hot temperatures. Drinking plenty of water helps you produce sweat when you’re overheated during activity, which cools your body down. This cooling mechanism is critical in preventing heat stroke and other potentially deadly heat-related conditions.
Boosted Brain Performance
Even mild dehydration can affect memory, mood, concentration, and reaction time. Staying hydrated can have a positive effect on cognition, help stabilize emotions, and even help lessen feelings of anxiety. If you are feeling a bit foggy-minded or needing a mood boost, sticking to a hydration routine can help.
Decreased Joint Pain
The cartilage in our joints contains approximately 80% water, so being dehydrated can have a direct affect on joint pain. Staying hydrated helps your joints stay well-lubricated, which helps reduce friction by creating more of a padding between the bones. Less friction means smoother-moving joints and fewer aches and pains.
Water intake supports your body’s natural ability to detoxify harmful substances and waste through processes such as perspiration and urination. Without sufficient levels of hydration, your body cannot efficiently remove these toxins, which can affect overall health. Water is important both during a detox and after to replenish fluids.
Your body needs water in order to digest food properly. Without enough water, you may experience irregular bowel movements, gas, bloating, heartburn, and other discomforts that can affect your quality of life. Upping your fluid intake can help get things moving as it aids in breaking down soluble fiber to keep your digestion process on track.
Kidney Stone Prevention
Kidney stones are clumps of mineral crystals that form in the urinary tract. Consuming adequate amounts of water each day can help dilute this concentration of minerals and reduce the chances of kidney stones. Water also helps flush harmful bacteria from your bladder and can aid in preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Dehydration can slow down blood circulation and affect the flow of oxygen to your brain. A lack of fluids can also cause your heart to work harder to pump oxygen throughout your body. All of that expended energy can make you feel tired, sluggish, and less motivated. By staying hydrated, your body can perform at peak physical performance.
Even mild fluid loss can cause the brain to contract away from the skull, leading to headaches and migraines in some individuals. Being consistently well-hydrated may help keep head pain in check, and can either help prevent future headaches or aid in reducing current headache pain – including hangover headaches.
Weight Loss & Management
Drinking water can help with both weight loss and management. This is because water can help you feel full and boost your metabolic rate. It is recommended to drink a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal to help you feel more full, which will make you less likely to consume unnecessary calories.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
Hydrate with Your Regular Routine
Drinking water throughout the day can be hard to keep on a schedule, but adding it into your regular routine can help. When you brush your teeth in the morning, include a glass of water. With every meal, have another glass. And finally, add another glass with your nighttime routine. With three meals, that’s already 5 glasses of water done!
Keep a Water Bottle Nearby
Unless you are actively thirsty, water can be one of those things that can be out of sight, out of mind. Get a large, reusable water bottle that you can keep nearby for easy access. Set a timer on your phone every hour to remind you to drink. There are even some water bottles that will do the reminding for you!
Track Your Progress
When drinking nearly 100oz of water a day (or more!), it can be easy to lose track of your progress. Take notes about how much you’re drinking, whether it’s every sip or every time you finish a drink. There are water tracking to help, and just like water bottles that will remind you to drink, there are some that will track the amount as well.
Switch Up the Method
Drinking water may seem like an easy task for some, but for others it can be a chore. If you are struggling to hit your daily recommended amount of water, try different methods! You can add slices of fruit for added flavor, see if still or sparkling is more appealing, or even test out different temperatures to see if that does the trick.
Follow a Produce-Heavy Diet
You don’t just have to drink your water! You can help keep yourself hydrated by eating a produce-heavy diet. Produce such as melons, berries, leafy greens, and squash are about 90% water. Some dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese can also help boost hydration.
Increase Intake with Certain Activities
As mentioned earlier, the amount of water you need varies depending on a number of factors. For example, if you are having a more stationary day, you won’t need as much water as you would on a day you’re working out. Be sure to also rehydrate if you’re spending time in heat, like in an infrared sauna. You need to replenish after sweating!
Water is one of the most important things for our bodies. Almost everywhere you look for health tips, water is almost always on the list! In addition to the benefits listed above, proper hydration can help with skin health, muscle recovery, recovery from sickness, and much more. All great reasons to grab a glass right now!