Did you know that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated?(1)
You may be asking yourself how this is possible when we all learned as young as elementary school that our bodies are made up of 60% water. So how can we be that dehydrated if we literally need water to live?
I’ve asked myself the same question.
But, it’s not really that surprising when you think about it.
Our busy lives find us constantly running from one thing to the next, which often places taking care of ourselves pretty far down on the list. Making sure we’re drinking enough water is often the last thing on our mind (usually it’s coffee that takes its place). And then when you think about our diets, we have endless options of food that deplete our bodies of essential nutrients and limitless drink options that really do very little to aid in the hydration of our body (carbonated water I’m thinking of you here).
Then when we do think about how best to fix the issue, we are of course bombarded by a TON of conflicting information about the best ways to rehydrate our bodies—everything from drinking 8 glasses of water a day to you really should be getting all your water by eating water-rich foods to get all your water to drink 1 gallon of water a day. What advice is best?
I’ve already talked about the fact that our bodies are mostly made up of water so we know right off the bat that it is essential to life. In fact, you can only survive 3-5 days without water.
Water is also absolutely critical to brain health. It’s needed for brain systems like thoughts and memory, production of hormones, and neurotransmitters in the brain, so being dehydrated can cause a ripple effect of problems. In fact, the brain alone is made up of about 73% water, and nearly every function is water-dependent.(2)
Staying hydrated is also extremely important considering that the average adult loses more than 80 ounces of water every day through sweating, breathing, and eliminating waste.
So if this is you, it may explain your feelings of,
And many more.
I can’t tell you how often I hear someone complain about how tired they are and then find out they’ve only had 3 cups of coffee to drink all day.
Our brains are strongly influenced by our hydration status. It affects everything from mood to concentration and can also increase the frequency of headaches.(3) This in turn can all affect other parts of our life and health.
Of course, many people read the recommendations of drinking 100 ounces a day and say, “NO WAY! That seems like too much,” then give up before even starting. I’m recommending we start back with the staple of eight glasses a day and work our way up.
Before working our way to a higher number though, you should do some more research and speak to your doctor because everyone is different. Things like where you live, your diet, how active you are, and your overall health can all be a factor in how much water you need. But if you know that you’ve been slacking on your water intake then fill up those water bottles and make a concerted effort to get in those eight glasses as a starting point. You’ll likely notice a difference.
Did you know that it’s not just water you need for hydration?
Many people complain that they are dehydrated because they ate too much salty food the night before but did you know that salt is one of the other key factors in maintaining hydration? Electrolytes in the form of Salt, magnesium and potassium are all crucial to your body’s ability to hydrate and stay hydrated.
Salt: Helps retain water in the body and move it throughout the cells in our body, so it’s important to drink plenty of water while consuming salt.
Magnesium: This mineral plays a role in over 300 chemical reactions in the body, including those that help maintain normal muscle and nerve function. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Potassium: Has been shown to help reduce blood pressure by helping relax blood vessels and prevent spasms that can lead to high blood pressure or heart attack/stroke. It also helps regulate fluid balance in your cells which can be helpful for people who have diabetes because it helps keep blood sugar levels under control.
We should all be making an effort to be drinking more water throughout the day and also focusing on those electrolytes but if the thought of glasses upon glasses of water a day is just more than you can handle, you can definitely make sure to get some of that water through the foods you eat.
I always recommend you focus on whole foods in your diet so if you’re already doing that then you’re already on the right track.
Here is a this of foods along with their water content that can get you started with stocking your fridge with some water-rich foods. There are many more options out there so make sure to do some more research.(4)
Staying hydrated shouldn’t be complicated but it can be unexpectedly difficult at times. As with anything on your health journey, planning ahead to always keep some water with you and making sure to incorporate water-rich foods into your diet will certainly help. Just make sure not to forget those important electrolytes too.