All About Hydration!
By Jessica Beecham
As the weather heats up, it is important that we keep good hydration in mind. The WE Fit WellnessTM team wanted to take this opportunity to discuss hydration recommendations and tips and tricks to staying well hydrated.
How Much Fluid Do We Need?
Most of us were taught that we need to drink 64oz (8 8oz cups) of water each day. According to WebMD this water recommendation was arbitrary and was not based on research. In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released new hydration guidelines that removed the 8 8oz glasses recommendation. The new guidelines say that healthy adults should use thirst as a gauge fluid consumption. There are a few exceptions to this rule including people with medical conditions requiring fluid control, individuals who live in extreme weather conditions, athletes, or people participating in physical activity. The IOM provides general fluid intake suggestions based on survey data suggesting that adult women should consume 91 ounces of fluid and adult men should consume 125 ounces of fluid daily. This number includes fluids found in food and beverages.
The IOM guidelines do not mean that we need less fluid than before. In fact, the average suggested intake based on survey data is significantly higher than 64oz of fluid per day for men and women. The new guidelines place a greater emphasis on taking personal ownership and paying attention to what our bodies are telling us. If we feel thirsty it is important to grab a drink or a piece of fruit with high water content (watermelon, oranges, cantaloupe, etc…). The new regulations also steer away from simply recommending water and broaden fluid intake to all of the fluids we drink and the foods that we eat. While this change brings to light the fact that caffeinated sodas, beer, milk, fruit juice, and other beverages can be used as sources of hydration, we must still consider the other impacts that they have on our body. Consuming alcoholic beverages and beverages with high sugar content should still be done with moderation in mind. When considering fluid intake that is not attributed to water, we should think about the calories, sugar, carbs, and sodium that we are taking in as well.
What is Dehydration?
Dehydration is when we lose more water than we take in. The human body is constantly loosing water. As we breathe, sweat, and eliminate waste. If we do not put back what we lose we become dehydrated, which can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps, dry mouth, thirst, headaches, nausea, forgetfulness, irritation, and even heat stroke.
Exercise and extreme heat cause increased fluid loss so whether you are a serious athlete, a casual exerciser, or just out to have fun in the sun it is important to take in extra fluid in order to avoid dehydration. Our bodies are made up of 70% water. Every cell, tissue, muscle, and organ needs water to function properly. Water helps us regulate our body temperature, transport blood and energy sustaining nutrients throughout our bodies, circulating blood, oxygenating the muscles, removing waste, digesting food, and even lubricate our joints.
Follow our simple tips to stay well hydrated!
Quick Tips for Staying Hydrated
Cary a water bottle: Splurge and buy yourself a water bottle that you like. Cary it with you wherever you go. If you have it there at your fingertips, it is much easier to grab a drink when you start to feel thirsty. Having a water bottle along helps us keep the beverages that we want to consume close by so that we avoid those splurge beverages that add on the calories and sugar while quenching our thirst.
Drink Water During Exercising: When we exercise, our core temperature rises and our body has to work harder to regulate our body temperature. This means we lose more water. In addition to daily water intake, it is important to take in fluids while we exercise. CAMELBAK has a great hydration calculator that takes into consideration height, weight, age, activity, weather conditions, duration of activity, and sweat level and provides a personalized recommendation for fluid intake during exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) offers excellent information on Selecting and Using Hydration for Fitness. Generally, we should consume water before, during, and after exercise. A good rule of thumb is to consume 3-8oz of water every 15-20 minutes when exercising for an hour or less. If exercise continues past an hour we need to add carbohydrates and electrolytes.
Think outside the Water Bottle: Drinking water is not the only healthy way to take in liquid. The Daily Burn offers tips for consuming fluid that do not involve drinking water! Consider eating yummy foods with high water content such as celery, cucumbers, lettuce, watermelon, and strawberries. Smoothies, coconut water, and sports drinks are options as well. As we mentioned earlier in the post, when consuming liquid other than water, don’t forget to consider the other nutritional impact as well.
Spice Up Your Water!: If water is a little boring for your taste, consider spicing it up! Add fresh fruit like lemons, berries, and melons to water for a little infusion of flavor. Club soda or seltzer water is a great way to add a little fizz without adding calories. These great tasting, calorie free options offer a win win for everyone!
Drink Up in the Morning: If we get the recommended eight hours of sleep each night we have gone for a long time without consuming food or water. Even though we go all night without taking in fluids, we lose them throughout the night. Grabbing that glass of water after waking up allows us to hydrate after a long night of moving down the path to dehydration. In addition it helps us fire up our metabolism, flush toxins from the body, and curb our appetite before eating the first meal of the day.
So drink up, eat up, and stay hydrated!