Alta Med Facts™….Hydration, What’s the Big Deal?
We have all heard the sermon on drinking more water. Most experts recommend between 8 and 12 eight-ounce glasses of water a day. That’s a LOT of water! How is that even feasible? For most of us, we struggle with that goal, knowing we fall short each and every day. The good news is that we now know we can get some of that water requirement from other beverages and up to 20% from our foods. But that doesn’t diminish the benefits of constantly flushing out our kidneys and bladder for long term health.
What’s the big deal, anyway? What really happens to us when we get dehydrated? The obvious answer is that our kidneys don’t function well: toxins and waste back up in our bodies, making us feel generally sluggish. A telltale sign is dark urine. But there are some less obvious effects of dehydration. For one, our brains don’t work properly, making us groggy. Also, we lose muscle tone and become constipated. Dehydration causes our bodies to become confused into thinking we’re hungry, so we are likely to eat more. The fat stored in our bodies don’t get used up or metabolized. Dehydration could cause trouble regulating our body temperature, making us feel overheated or cold. Lastly, dehydration causes dry, itchy and saggy skin. All of these are symptoms that are easily avoided by simply drinking more water! None of us want to hear it, but it’s a reminder we all need.
In fact, if the 8 to 12 glass recommendation weren’t enough, many physicians recommend EVEN MORE
water when we are exercising or when the weather is hot! We also need additional water if we are on a high fiber diet or are taking a fiber supplement. Fiber actually uses up lots of water. If you are trying to lose weight, you need to drink more water. Sometimes we worry that if we drink too much water we’ll getbloated. This really isn’t true…..our body will only store as much water as it needs; then eliminate the rest. Dry air (such as high altitudes, or that found in airplanes) requires additional hydration as well. When we are suffering from an acute illness like a cold or a bladder infection we need to think about hydrating. Fevers, vomiting, diarrhea all cause us to lose or use up large amounts of water, which needs to be replaced.
Let’s try harder to stay hydrated!! Check out these tips for a more hydrated 2012!
Tips for staying hydrated:
- Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. Consider carrying a reusable water bottle and filling it up at home or work rather than purchasing bottled water, which is expensive and creates plastic bottle waste.
- If plain water doesn’t interest you, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to your drink.
- If you will be exercising, make sure you drink water before, during and after your workout.
- Start and end your day with a glass of water.
- When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. Drinking water may also contribute to a healthy weight loss plan, as some research suggests drinking water will help you feel full.
- Drink on a schedule if you have trouble remembering to drink water. For example, drink water when you wake up; at breakfast, lunch and dinner; or drink a small glass of water at the top of each hour.