Hydration: Are you well hydrated?

Water is in the news a lot. From Flint to Jackson and from the draught to massive floods. Water is one of our most essential ingredients for life. People can only live a few days without water. Many of my clients are confused about how much water is the optimal amount of water to consume in a day. Today I wanted to answer some questions about water and hydration.

Why we need water
Low-grade dehydration can affect us in many ways. It can contribute to fatigue, headaches, constipation, joint pain, lack of focus, low mood, and poor sleep. We generally lose between 2-3 liters or 60-100 ounces of water per day through breathing, sweating, and elimination.

Water helps us:

  • bring nutrients and oxygen to our cells
  • regulate temperature through sweat
  • remove waste products
  • lubricate our bodies and keep skin and mucus membranes hydrated

While most of us don’t get enough water, it is important to remember that you can go overboard, and drinking too much water, especially quickly can be dangerous. Hyponatremia (excessive water) is most often seen in athletes who are sweating a lot and have lost a lot of sodium. Rehydrating with large amounts of water and no electrolytes further dilutes the sodium in the body and can cause big problems. Signs of hyponatremia are vomiting, headache, bloating, disorientation, and swollen hands and feet. If you see anyone who may be experiencing this, seek medical care ASAP, it can be a life-threatening condition.

How much is optimal and how much is too much
Generally, I recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces. For example, someone who weighs 150 lbs should aim for 75 ounces per day. This is an approximation and everyone’s needs are different.

One simple way to know if you are dehydrated is to look at your urine. It should be clear to a light yellow. Note that certain vitamins or medications can darken the color of urine so account for that if you need to. Another way to check for dehydration is to pinch your skin on the top of your hand. If it “tents” and doesn’t bounce back right away to its normal shape, you are showing signs of dehydration.

Tips and tricks for consuming more water

  • Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning before you caffeinate. Add a pinch of mineral-rich salts, such as Himalayan, Celtic, or sea salt, and a squeeze of lemon to help replace electrolytes lost over the night.
  • Focus on eating foods that are naturally hydrating such as vegetables and fruits, soups, smoothies, and decaffeinated teas and coffee
  • Add a tablespoon of chia seeds to your water. Chia seeds hold water and then help release it more slowly as you digest them
  • Practice micromovements (stretching, twisting…) throughout the day to help move water more deeply into tissues

Getting Real
Most of my clients complain that with increased hydration comes a need to urinate more often. A mindset change can be helpful here. It is a good time to notice how much better your body feels when you are well hydrated — have you noticed that your energy feels more stable throughout the afternoon, that dull headaches are gone, or you are not feeling like you are not reaching for “pick me up” snacks as often? If you are at work, getting up from your desk and moving for a couple of minutes can improve your focus when you return. Getting up to go to the restroom might be just what you need to help break up your day.

Next Steps
I talk with my clients about hydration all the time. Just like any other health and wellness-supporting habit, learning to consume optimal water takes some effort and attention. My goal is to support my clients while they make changes in a doable, long-term way.  If you are interested in learning more book an exploratory call (for new clients) or a follow-up visit (for existing clients) at book an appointment so we can dive deeper together.