Hydration is Important

When technology goes nutty, the first step in troubleshooting is to turn it off then back on or to unplug and replug. Drinking water is the equivalent for the human body. If you’re feeling headachy, sleepy, empty, cranky, weak, faint, or dizzy, drink water. Remarkably, it’s often all you need to right yourself. We’re made up of 50-75% water so that makes sense. Quite literally, you are what you drink (if you drink water). We dehydrate through metabolism, breathing, sweating, and visits to the bathroom. When our levels dip too low, we feel off. For those of us with access to clean water, the fix is pretty easy.

It Can Be Challenging to Drink Enough Water

Alas, not everyone agrees that the fix is easy. Two important people in my life struggle to hydrate. My mom recently told me she’s obsessed with trying to drink enough water. She doesn’t typically feel thirsty unless she’s past the point of dehydration so mild obsession is helpful. It’s worth noting that as we get older, our thirst cues don’t work as well as they might have in the past.

Then there’s Boyfriend who hates water. He’s a Texas boy who loves his unsweetened iced tea but water? Just hates it. I’ve never thought of water as having a flavor so I don’t get it but I see him wince with every sip. Years ago, one of my oldest and dearest friends let me know she didn’t like chocolate and that just baffled me but I get it more than the water thing. Chocolate has a taste. But water? Really?

So both Boyfriend and mom know that water is good for you and hydration is essential. I’m quite sure they understand that water plays a vital role in regulating body temperature, lubricating the joints and tissues, maintaining healthy skin, aiding digestion, and flushing out toxins and waste. It’s also worth noting that well-hydrated older adults have fewer falls, less constipation, and a lower risk of bladder cancer in men. Dehydration has been linked to a higher frequency of urinary tract infections, confusion, kidney failure, and slower wound healing.

How Much is Enough?

What they might not know is that some of the info we have about water is more myth than fact. Like 10,000 steps in my post about walking, 8 glasses a day, though a mainstream recommendation, isn’t supported by any clear scientific evidence. The CDC says drinking water is good for you but does not offer daily intake recommendations. The current Dietary Guidelines similarly stop short of recommending a specific daily intake. Back in 1945, the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board advised people to consume 84.5 fluid ounces of water per day, including fluid from food but didn’t break it down further. Like everything else in wellness, there’s considerable uncertainty around how much water we should be drinking everyday. The only thing that’s certain is that water is vital for good health.

About Those Myths…

First among the myths, then, is the notion that you need to be drinking 8 glasses of water (64 oz.) each day. Needs depend on size, activity level, age, diet, medications you may be taking, overall health, and even the climate where you live. There’s no one size fits all. The National Council on Aging recommends taking one-third of your body weight and drinking that amount of ounces in fluid daily.

Another myth is the suggestion that if you’re not thirsty, you’re probably not dehydrated. Yeah, not so much. My mother’s wonky thirst cues are not at all unusual. It’s also true that you’re not necessarily dehydrated just because you do feel thirsty. There’s a bit of a spectrum.

Myth #3 was a surprise to me. I am guilty of unknowingly misleading both Boyfriend and mom on this one. The notion that coffee is dehydrating has been debunked. Moderate coffee consumption counts toward your daily fluid intake. Unsweetened iced tea counts too!

The 4th myth is the idea that drinking liquids is the only way to stay hydrated. I’m not certain this one constitutes a myth. Most of us know this and simply tend to forget it in the pursuit of our daily 8 cups. Close to 20% of our daily fluid intake actually comes from food with high water content. People who find it challenging to drink water might be happy to hear that fruits, vegetables, soups, and coffee (as noted above) can get them further along than they might think. Of course, high sodium foods – like many ultra processed foods – have the opposite effect. Be sure to have an extra cup or 2 of water with your Hint of Lime Tostitos.

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much?

The last myth is that you can’t drink too much water. Last August, the media reported the tragic death of Ashley Summers, a young mother of two who was feeling very dehydrated and drank 4 bottles of water in about 20 minutes. The size of the bottles is unclear but one article I read suggested they were 16 oz. each, the equivalent of 8 – 8oz. glasses of water in a very short timeframe. Her brain swelled and she died of water intoxication. Her body had too much water and not enough salt. Though this outcome is as terrifying as it is tragic, it’s important to remember that it’s rare. It’s also a learning moment. Water is a great fix when you’re merely thirsty, even mildly dehydrated, but if you have moderate to serious symptoms like confusion, dry and sunken eyes, severe muscle cramps, low blood pressure, and mobility problems, you may have a salt/water imbalance requiring IV fluids. Don’t mess around.

Don’t Hold Back, Dive Right In

Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. Water isn’t the only way to do it but it’s an awfully good and usually safe way. Try not to stress obsessively and remember it’s a good idea to drink a glass of water:

  • With each meal and between meals
  • Before, during and after exercise
  • If you feel thirsty

Happy 4th of July! Hydrate!

Musical Playlist

Bridge Over Troubled Water, Waterfalls, Octopus’ Garden, Cake By the Ocean

Thinking and Trying

Something to think about: “A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Something to try: Eat watermelon. I’m not kidding. Watermelon is more than 90% water. It has antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C and it’s a fantastic natural source of electrolytes.

Coaching Can Help

Sometime we feel so busy that adding any new routine can be overwhelming, even if it seems like it should be easy. Proper hydration is essential to your overall health and wellbeing. A coach can help you turn fluid intake into a habit. Let’s talk about it. Sign up for a free 15-minute discovery call here.

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