70 percent of your body is composed of water. It therefore stands to reason that we need to make sure our bodies have proper hydration. But what exactly does it mean to have proper hydration? Depending on a number of factors, this can change from person to person and from day to day. Therefore, knowing how to monitor your hydration status is important. Fortunately, by following a few simple rules, you can make sure you are properly hydrated. And in the process, you can enjoy optimal health as a result.
What is Proper Hydration?
Every day, our bodies require replacement of water lost. Every cell in the body needs water to function properly, and being properly hydrated is essential. But how much water should you drink each day to avoid dehydration? As a general rule, individuals should drink eight glasses of water (64 ounces) each day. Of course, these requirements can vary based on a person’s size and weight. One way to better estimate your daily water needs is to divide your weight in pounds in half. The result tells you the number of ounces of water you need each day for proper hydration.
Other factors besides your weight may require you to drink more or less water as well. For example, exercise and being in a hot climate require additional fluids for proper hydration. Likewise, some medications like diuretics cause fluid loss and may require drinking larger amounts of water. At the same time, some people may need to cut back on their water intake. Proper hydration for individuals with heart failure or kidney disease may need less daily water. Thus, in addition to knowing your ideal daily hydration needs based on weight, you may need to take into account other factors that will affect your daily water requirement.
Why is Proper Hydration so Important?
Being properly hydrated offers many health benefits. Proper hydration allows our circulation to carry nutrients effectively to our body’s cells. This helps to prevent illness and disease. Likewise, being properly hydrated prevents constipation, gives our skin a healthy glow and flushes bacteria from our urine. Proper hydration also boosts our memory, attention and even our mood. In essence, every single organ system can function better when we are properly hydrated.
In contrast, dehydration can cause all sorts of problems. While most people become thirsty when dehydrated, older adults may not. Likewise, if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Therefore, using thirst to guide your fluid intake is not very effective. Other telltale signs of dehydration include fatigue, weakness, headache, and lightheadedness. Moreover, dehydration can cause your heart rate to increase, your blood pressure to drop, and your thinking to become confused. It is therefore essential to maintain proper hydration to avoid these problems.
Can You Drink too much Water?
As a general rule, few people drink too much water and become overhydrated. If your kidneys function normally, you would have to drink an excessive amount of water to become overhydrated. Thus it is better to err on the side of drinking more rather than less water throughout the day. However, if you suffer from heart failure, kidney disease or liver problems, too much fluid can be a problem. In these instances, drinking too much water might worsen your condition. If you’re in this situation, check with your physician about what amount you should drink each day for proper hydration.
7 Tips for Staying Properly Hydrated
As a starting point, estimate the amount of daily water that your body needs based on your weight and activity. This will provide you with a rough idea of the amount you should drink each day. Here are a few additional tips for proper hydration:
- Drink water gradually throughout the day. There are plenty of water bottles available to help remind you to drink. The Hydrate Spark Smart Water Bottle and Drink More Waterbottle are two of our favorites that can help keep you on the right track.
- Eat foods high in water content like fruits and leafy vegetables.
- Avoid dehydrating beverages like coffee, tea, caffeinated sodas, and alcohol. Adding natural flavors to your water is easy and can help replace unhealthy beverage options. Here is a free guide of 27 delicious water recipes to get you motivated.
- Monitor your urine color (lemonade color is good; apple juice color suggests dehydration).
- Consult your physician regarding any medications you take for dehydration risks.
- Increase fluids when exercising, sweating, or in hot climates.
- Try drinking with straws. The ease of using straws can help you drink more. Carrying reusable straws with you eliminates excuses and can help bring your water intake up.
Putting Good Habits into Practice
As the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.” Of course, the horse may not have realized the importance of being properly hydrated. Proper hydration is a vital part of good health. In addition to the tips provided, take steps to drink water throughout the day. With some dedication and commitment, you will soon find these practices become a healthy habit. And your health will be better for it.