Staying hydrated is a very important, and often overlooked, part of our health. We talk about the importance of proper nutrition all the time, yet the body can only last one week without water, but up to 6 weeks without food! All of our senses rely on water: sound is transmitted through fluid in the ear, light is reflected through fluid in the eyes, and foods/odors must be dissolved in water for us to taste and smell. So what happens when you get dehydrated?
- Your body will not function optimally – you will have poor circulation and your body will not work as efficiently
- Proper metabolism requires water so your body may not get the nutrients that it needs. Thirst can also masquerade as hunger!
- Can affect mood by causing headaches, irritability and fatigue
- Can cause constipation
- If severe, it can cause delayed wound healing
- You may not be as motivated or productive because your concentration can be affected.
Our bodies lose an average of 2-3 liters of water every day through sweating, breathing and going to the bathroom. Our daily habits can increase our water requirements, for example exercise can cause increased sweating and caffeine can cause increased urination. We have to replace all the fluid lost to avoid dehydration!
Some tips to get all that water in:
- Drink cold water throughout the day – our bodies absorb cooler fluids more easily
- Carry a water bottle with you at all times
- Set water goals, especially if you have a busy schedule! Have a glass in the morning, one before lunch, one with lunch, and one before dinner. Smaller goals make it easier to drink more throughout the day.
- Drink before you are thirsty – feeling thirsty means that you are already slightly dehydrated
- Water is the best, but not the only option! Sports drinks, herbal teas, broth, and lemon or cucumber water are all good choices. Just avoid the drinks with too much sugar in them!
- And don’t forget that foods contain water too; we consume about 20% of our daily water requirement by food, mostly as fruits and vegetables.