Sometimes the simplest things have the greatest impact. Drinking enough water each day is definitely one of those things!
I am also stunned at the amount of pushback that I get to the suggestion/goal of drinking the proper amount of water each day. It’s almost as if the perception is that the payoff can’t really be all that great, so why bother. Or, that it is too simple of a solution and tackling something bigger, better, and with more bang for the buck is more worthy.
Well, I am here to tell you that the payoff IS worth it, and definitely worthy! In fact, it is the number one goal that I like to see people set, before tackling anything else…it is that big.
I can tell within a couple hours if I am not on target with my water consumption for the day. It is the first place that I turn if I am not feeling quite right. My kids are so used to my answer to what ails them being “go get a glass of water”, that now they preface any complaint with “Mom, I already drank some water and ______ is still bothering me”.
My five year old will come home from Kindergarten and tell me that such and such happened because she was dehydrated, so she got some water and was better…it still cracks me up every time she uses that term. Most of the time it is in context, but we may have gone overboard a touch, as she might be thinking water is the answer to even more than I profess!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why is drinking enough water important?
Every healing process happens with water.
Only oxygen is more essential for life than water.
Over 60% of our body is water. 75% of our brain and muscles are water. Over 80% of our blood, and 90% of our lungs are water.
Water regulates body temperature (as it gets hotter, you need more)
Water keeps mucous membranes moist and fluid (thin mucous in upper respiratory congestion helps clear it out and decrease risk of infection)
Water is needed to dissolve the wastes(urea, lactic acid) that our kidneys remove, and to help flush our system of toxins and keep bowels moving and healthy.
Water enables nutrients to move through our cells and to be utilized well.
It cushions our joints which helps prevent injury and pain.
Mild dehydration is a common cause of headaches and some research actually found that increasing water intake may decrease the hours of pain caused by migraines. Dehydration also plays a major role in bringing on migraines.
Proper hydration will improve energy levels! And a 5% decrease in hydration can cause a 30% decrease in energy level. It is estimated that over 80% of our population suffers energy loss due to minor dehydration.
Water will decrease muscle aches.
Depression and chronic fatigue syndrome have also been related to hydration.
Proper hydration will help keep your skin supple and clear.
Many times thirst can be confused with hunger, and we will reach for a snack when really what our body is signaling us for is a tall glass of water.
Now that we have established a few key reasons why drinking enough water is so very essential to our wellbeing, let’s look at how much water we need.
How much water do I need?
The simple formula that will capture the average person is this:
Body weight in pounds/2 = Ounces of water to drink per day
Example:150 lb. person divided by two equals 75oz. of water per day
I know that sounds like a lot of water, but just hang onto your hat, because that’s not even all of it!
Water intake must increase for people who are:
Sweat a lot
Are 25 pounds or more over their Ideal Body Weight (IBW)
Drink more than 1-2 cups of coffee, soda, or other carbonated beverages
In the above listed cases a good rule of thumb is to increase water intake by 8 ounces for every 15 minutes of exercise, every 25 pounds over IBW, and every dehydrating beverage over 2!
I know there are tons of reasons why this is not convenient and a pain in the rump, but with a few tips, tools, and time to make it a habit, you will wonder why on earth you didn’t make this effort sooner!
Here are some tips for staying on target and facts to ease the transition:
You won’t be running to the bathroom every 10 minutes forever. Your bladder will calm down after a few weeks and you won’t urinate as often, but there will be an increased volume of output.
As you become more chronically hydrated your taste for water will also increase. You will crave it, and will miss it if you find yourself separated from your water bottle!
Get a refillable water bottle and carry it with you everywhere. Choose a size that works well for you. Sometimes I like to use my 32oz. Nalgene, and I just make sure to fill it twice! Then I get extra water for my activity level when I have additional water with meals, on my runs/workouts, and when I wake up in the morning. Sometimes I use a smaller 20oz. bottle that fits into my purse better, but only when I know I’ll be able to refill it soon!
If you take regular medications, make an effort to have a large 20oz. glass of water with them.
Keep water at your desk, set a timer, and use that as an excuse to stretch and filler up!
Put a glass of water next to your bed before you go to sleep and when you wake up in the morning gulp it down.
Cut fresh lemons and add to your water bottle, and ask for lemons when you order water with your meals away from home.
Aside from all that the experts say about water, I have also heard many a testimonial from my own clients, acquaintances, and friends. Just today when my sister in law popped over she said in passing, “my energy level feels kind of low today…I don’t think I’ve had enough water”.
I presented a nutrition workshop to a group at my church a while back, and of course one of the goals I encouraged for the group was to tackle their water intake. A few months later the pastor of our church came to me and said that he had not changed anything in his life except for the dramatic increase in his water intake, and that he was amazed at the difference it had made. He mentioned feeling better and that some chronic issues/problems had disappeared. I called him when I started writing this piece, and asked him if he would be willing to share any specifics. He said that he has been a lifelong soda drinker, but since upping his water intake he has lost probably 95% of his desire for sodas.
If everyone in this country eliminated 95% of their soda intake (diet and regular) and started pushing water, I do believe we would see a transformation in our health demographics. Soda definitely displaces water in our society, and I see it as a huge problem…But that is a different days topic, we’ll cover that one soon though!
I hope that reading this has made you thirsty, I know that writing it sure did for me! Now go and gear up with your water bottles and get to filling them. Spring is here, summer is a coming, and so we all need to up our regular water intake too!