Drink Up: Why Hydration is Critical to Your Overall Health
Seventy-five percent of Americans experience mild chronic dehydration, meaning for one reason or another, Americans are not getting enough fluids. Chances are we’ve heard since childhood that it’s important to drink plenty of water (thanks Mom), but how many of us have ever wondered why?
Consider this: More than half of your body is made up of water. Think of water as the fuel that keeps your body’s engine running. All of your body’s systems, including your heart, lungs and even brain, need fluids to keep them moving and running properly. Water aids in digesting food, removing waste, pumping blood throughout the body, fighting off illness, building tissue, strengthening muscles and regulating body temperature. Without enough water, your body systems can begin to shut down, putting your own survival at risk.
Since water is so crucial to our health, it’s important to be able to recognize when our bodies are experiencing dehydration. Common symptoms of dehydration include headache, dizziness, fatigue, faintness and – no surprise – thirst. And while thirst can remind us to drink more, don’t rely on it to stay hydrated. By the time thirst sets in, your body is already too low on fluids. A better way to prevent dehydration is to pay attention to the color of your urine. Just remember: clear or light and you’ve done it right, amber or dark and you’ve missed the mark.
To stay hydrated, it is often recommended to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. While this can be a good metric, the amount of water each person needs is different depending on factors like sweat rate, weather and physical activity. As summer kicks in and temperatures heat up, remember that those outdoor activities and time in the sun will use up your body’s water sources more quickly. Stay hydrated! Drink extra. Your body will thank you for it.
If staying hydrated is a struggle for you, try some of these easy tips to help increase your fluid intake:
1. Eat more fruits and veggies! Cucumber, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, and watermelon are all great sources of water.
2. Start your morning with tea, coffee, or milk. Even though caffeine is a diuretic, it doesn’t discount the fluids you take in.
3. Stay ahead of dehydration. Drink water before exercising or going outside.
4. Sip on water throughout the day instead of chugging all at once. Keep a water bottle on you for easy access.
5. Drink a glass of water when you wake up.
6. Add fruit to your water for a natural flavor boost.
7. Weigh yourself before and after exercising. Weight loss after a workout means fluid loss. To prevent dehydration in the future, make sure to drink three cups throughout your workout for every pound lost.
Once you start incorporating more water into your daily routine, it won’t take long to notice the incredible benefits to your overall wellbeing. Because water intake affects the brain, staying hydrated can help you think more clearly, remember better, and stay more alert. Water can help you look better too! Getting enough fluids helps prevent wrinkles and keeps your skin healthy and glowing. For those who enjoy being active and working out, water will improve your athletic performance, help build muscle, and prevent cramping. And if you’re trying to lose weight, try drinking a glass of water instead of going for seconds. Fluids can help your body better recognize when you’re full and suppress your appetite.
Enjoy your time outdoors this summer, but remember to drink plenty of fluids and stay ahead of dehydration. If you believe you or a family member may be experiencing symptoms of dehydration during your summer activities, the doctors and nurses at Complete Care are available 24/7 to provide expert care and get you back to feeling your best. Come see us anytime; we’ll make sure you get in, get out, and get back to summer life.
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