Record heat has been everywhere this summer, so staying hydrated is critical. I can tell when I’m not drinking enough water. My digestion is way off, I experience a little brain fog, and my energy is low. Many people believe drinking anything liquid will contribute to their water intake. The truth is coffee, tea, fruit juices, and alcohol are all diuretics and deplete the body of water and interfere with calcium absorption. There is a serious epidemic of osteoporosis in our society right now, and plain old water would help immensely.
Why is water so important? It’s the most important nutrient in the body. We can go days, even weeks, without food, but only days without water. Water makes up 55-60% of our body mass. That’s about 10-13 gallons of water in an average adult! Interestingly, your brain is about 80% water, so dehydration, even as small as 2%, can hurt brain functions.
The roles of water in the body are many, such as transporting nutrients, regulating body temperature, removing waste, flushing toxins, and helping with the body’s natural healing process.
I’m often asked about how much water we should drink. A good rule of thumb is the following: your current weight in pounds / 2 = minimum number of ounces you should drink daily.
Example: A person weighing 150 should drink at least 75 ounces of water daily. That’s only about 4.6 16-ounce glasses of water.
As I mentioned above, if you drink an 8-ounce diuretic beverage, add an additional 12-16 ounces of water to your daily intake for every 8 ounces of a diuretic beverage. If you’re in a hot climate and you’re losing water from sweat, be sure to drink even more water.
Here are tips for getting more water into our bodies during the day.
- Make “spa” water in a large glass container with mint, cucumbers, and lemon slices.
- Always have water with you when you leave home.
- Pack a few liter bottles of water if you’re headed to work.
- Treat yourself with mineral water like Pellegrino. Catch a case or two on sale at Costco.
- Drink water instead when looking for a snack since thirst can mimic hunger.
On the other side of hydration is dehydration. If the body’s water content drops by as little as 2%, it will cause fatigue. Being in AZ and ill hydrated, my energy drops like a brick. I know it’s been extremely hot this summer, so I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. A drop of 10% will cause significant health problems, and greater than 10% dehydration can cause death. If you find yourself thirsty, find some water right away. Thirst is a sign of dehydration.
Lastly, please don’t neglect your water intake when summer is over and it cools off!