We often hear that water is important for our health. However, most of us take drinking water for granted since we do not make it part of our daily routine. It’s even more important to stay hydrated during summertime.
As a Licensed Registered Dietitian, clients have given me different reasons they don’t drink enough water daily. Some don’t like the taste of it. Others feel like it is tasteless and boring. I see it as a practice you should include in your daily routine until it becomes a habit.
Water makes up about 60 percent of our body weight and plays such important roles in our bodies such as:
Protect our organs and tissues
Regulate the body’s temperature
Get rid of wastes
Maintain electrolyte balance
Improve the delivery of oxygen to our cells
We lose water every day through our breathing, urination, perspiration, and bowel movement. When we don’t consume adequate fluid to replace what we lose, we risk becoming dehydrated. Dehydration can be serious and lead from minor to life-threatening health conditions. Also, dehydration can negatively affect certain body organs and functions such as the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system. Some signs and symptoms include muscle cramping, dizziness, dry mouth, skin, and lips, fatigue, irritability or confusion, headache, rapid heartbeats, and breathing, not urinating or having dark yellow urine.
Although the common recommendation for water intake is at least 8 glasses of 8 oz water daily, the amount of water needed is based on climates, the level of physical activity, medications, and health conditions. People with health conditions such as kidney disease and heart disease may require to be on restricted water intake.
Certain health conditions such as cystic fibrosis may put the body at a higher risk for dehydration since with this condition there is an increase in sweat production and salt loss which causes the body’s thirst mechanism to not work properly. For that matter, people with cystic fibrosis usually don’t feel thirsty when they should and may be required to consume sports drinks.
Alcohol and caffeine increase urine excretion, which may dehydrate the body. Some fruits and vegetables contain a high percentage of water, such as cucumbers, watermelon, zucchini, grapefruit, cantaloupe, lettuce, pineapple, strawberries, oranges, celery, and tomatoes. It’s cheaper to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season.
During exercise, the body produces heat which has to be controlled to avoid a rise in body temperature. One way the body cools down is by sweating. However, excessive sweat may cause electrolyte imbalance and health complications. Sports drinks replace lost electrolytes such as potassium and sodium during intensive exercise to improve performance and recovery.
If you are not getting enough water daily, follow these tips:
1. Pick water as the first choice of drink. It is a great way to avoid high sugar content drinks and save calories. Consumption of high sugary beverages may increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, and obesity.
2. Always carry a water bottle with you in the office or when you are exercising or running errands. It’s a great way to encourage and remind yourself to stay hydrated. The more you see it, the more you will drink it.
3. Boost the flavor by cutting and adding your favorite fruits and vegetable or herbs in your water bottle. Strawberries, mint, and cucumbers are some tasty examples.
It is important to keep drinking throughout the day. The key is to drink enough water to have colorless urine. By the time you feel thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated. We often confuse thirst with hunger. Try drinking one glass of water when you feel hungry. If you still feel hungry after 15 mins, get healthy snacks, or eat a balanced meal if it is your mealtime.