As you certainly know by now if you follow me on Instagram (sorry for the photo flood!), I’ve been in Arizona with work this weekend. It was great overall (aside from the whole “meetings on a weekend” thing) … I got in some relaxing kayaking, some beautiful (hilly!) runs, and a lot of catching up with colleagues I haven’t seen in a while.
However … I did something I haven’t done in a while. I got dehydrated! Between the very dry climate, the outdoor activities, the different-than-usual schedule (making constant water drinking less natural than usual), and (…ahem…) the cocktail hours every night, I let my #1 health tip of all time slide.
Quite often, when someone talks to me about their health goals or a problem they’re experiencing, the first question that I’ll ask is how much water they’re currently drinking per day. Most people are quick to say they drink plenty of water, or that water canNOT be the issue, but did you know that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? (I’m sure this applies to citizens of many other countries, as well, even without the data to back it up). It sounds like a simple – and silly – solution, but I truly believe that almost everyone would be healthier if they drank a bit more water. I’ll share 7 thoughts about water and hydration with you today, and I hope you challenge yourself to pay a bit more attention to your water intake this week (and beyond!). (picture source)
- Soda vs. water: Here’s an interesting (and depressing) statistic: in 1998, Americans averaged 54 gallons of soda per person, and only 42 gallons of water!!! (Today, we’ve improved to 44 gallons of soda vs. 58 gallons of water, which still leaves some room for improvement!). If you can’t get by without your soda, I’d recommend alternating one glass of soda with one glass of water, or making sure you consume the two side-by-side. Or, try club soda or naturally-flavored sparkling water, both calorie-free and tasty ways to get your fix of fizz!
- How much water do you need: You’ve probably heard the common advice that we need 8 glasses of water (or 64 oz.) per day. Is that always right? Well, I think the “right” amount varies dramatically by person, and even by day … the right amount for you depends on your level of exercise, the temperature, your unique body composition, and even your hydrating food intake (fruits, vegetables, and soups all contain tons of water, which really add up and lessen the amount of pure water that you need to drink). The color of your urine is really better gauge (sorry, but it’s true!). I’m certainly not recommending you carry around a chart like this every day (and you should have SEEN the horrified look Kevin gave me when I told him I was going to include this), but it’s helpful to take a quick glance to know if you need to boost your water intake. (picture source)
- Sports drinks: This is a topic that I’d like to go more into later, but suffice it to say that I believe sports drinks (like Gatorade and Powerade) are far overused. If you’re going out for a 20-minute walk in cool temperatures, first, congratulations!, but second, you do NOT need to down a monster-sized Gatorade. In general, I think sports drinks should be limited to exercise over an hour, at a medium- to high-intensity, and/ or in hot conditions. For most other exercise, water should suffice!
- Dehydrating beverages: I’ve told you that fruits, veggies, and soups “count” towards your hydration, so do coffee and wine “count” as well? Not so fast. Recent research has suggested that coffee is not actually dehydrating (aside from a very mild dieuretic effect). I like to consider coffee as a “neutral,” and I consider alcoholic beverages and soda as “negative” (meaning I need to drink more water to make up for any alcohol or soda I consume). Herbal tea is hydrating, so go ahead and count it towards your hydration goals!
- Instant signs of dehydration: A few instant signs of dehydration include fatigue, headache, cramping, bad mood, worse athletic performance, and constipation. Another instant sign may be hunger – as I mention in my post including 7 Tips to Control Snacking, we often mistake hunger and thirst, which causes us to eat when we’re actually thirsty! When I am personally dehydrated, I get a throbbing headache at the nape of my neck and the front of my forehead, but symptoms can totally depend on the person. When my dad is dehydrated, he wakes up in the middle of the night with painful foot cramps.
- Longer-term benefits: lower cholesterol (both my mom and my mother-in-law lowered their cholesterol dramatically, and I believe that increasing water intake and reducing sugar were two of the main reasons!), lower blood pressure, lower incidence of digestive diseases, and weight loss (or prevented weight gain).
- Infographic: check out this awesome infographic for a few more fun facts about water! (picture source)
Last, but not least … the giveaway winner! I couldn’t be happier for this person to win, as I’ve enjoyed following along with her running journey, and I know she’s been experiencing some injury issues lately. I think compression socks might be a big help! Amy, please send me your mailing address, and I’ll get your Eurosocks compression socks on the way! (Winner chosen by Rafflecopter and powered by Random.org)
So tell me in the comments … can you tell when you are dehydrated? What do you do to make sure you’re drinking enough water?