There’s a reason why so many health articles stress the importance of hydration—you need to stay hydrated to survive! Every aspect of your body needs water to work properly. Water is used to carry nutrients to your cells as well as flush waste from your body. It’s used to control body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Proper hydration affects the health of your muscles, joints, heart, skin, and even your brain, and without it, your body begins to shut down.
There are plenty of reasons why hydration is essential to overall health. Let’s break down what you can do to keep yourself hydrated every day.
How much water do I need? You probably know by now you need to drink water every day. The most common recommendation is 6 to 8 glasses of water a day, 8 ounces each. This is a good goal to maintain, but keep in mind that everyone has different hydration needs depending on various factors like age, weight, amount of physical activity, and climate. You may need more than 8 glasses of water a day, especially if your lifestyle is very active. The best thing you can do to know how much water you need is to listen to your body’s signals like thirst, dry mouth, fatigue, darker-colored (more concentrated) urine, headache, dry skin, dizziness, and mental fogginess.
What can I eat or drink to stay hydrated? Drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated, but there are other foods and drinks that help as well. Water can be found in fruits, vegetables, and foods like soup, sauces, and gravies. Juices, milk, tea, and even coffee contain water that helps with hydration. However, food and drinks other than water can contain extra calories, sugar, salt, and caffeine, and any of these in large amounts can counteract hydration.
For athletes, sports drinks can be helpful for hydration because they have carbohydrates and electrolytes to increase your energy and help your body absorb water. But watch out for added sugars! Also, recognize the difference between sports drinks and energy drinks; energy drinks usually contain large amounts of caffeine, and it’s best to limit caffeine intake if you want to prioritize hydration.
What are some strategies to help stay hydrated? If you have a hard time staying hydrated and/or keeping track of how much water you’re drinking, here are some tips that can help:
- Carry a reusable water bottle with you during the day.
- Hydrate on a schedule. For example, drink water when you wake up, at every meal, and before you go to bed. Another easy routine is to drink some water at the beginning of every hour.
- When you are exercising, remember to drink water before, during, and after your workout.
- You can make water more appealing by infusing it with lemon, lime, strawberry slices, or other fruits.
- When you feel hungry, drink water first! Hunger can be confused with thirst.
- When you go out to eat, drink water at the restaurant. It keeps you hydrated, and you don’t have to spend extra for a drink.
Keeping yourself hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your health. Remember that your body only functions well when it’s hydrated, and while many foods and drinks can help, water is still the best option. Now grab your water bottle, fill it up, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!