We all know water is the most important nutrient for the body. In fact, 70% of our body is made up of water and yet, so many of us suffer daily, sometimes unknowingly, from the debilitating effects of chronic dehydration. For some reason, we all know when our bodies need food, but there’s more gray area about managing our hydration. It’s usually not until we are feeling those pangs of thirst that we begin addressing our intake of water. And, much like grabbing a fast food alternative to a nourishing meal, we’ll often reach for carbonated, sugar-rich beverages to quench that almighty thirst. We’ve all been there…so noted.
Why is this such an important topic when it comes to health? Well, water happens to do a ton of things in our bodies, including transporting oxygen and nutrients to our cells, managing our metabolism, regulating body temperature, plumping our skin, digesting our food, moving waste out of our bodies, lubricating our joints and muscles, maintaining our feelings of well-being and energy and a myriad of other things. When we’re dehydrated, we have lost more fluid than we’re taking in. And, when your body doesn’t have enough water, it simply can’t work properly. In these instances, dehydration can range from mild to severe. Symptoms of dehydration can include dizziness or a lightheaded feeling, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, dry mouth, lack of sweating, and a hard, fast heartbeat. Symptoms of heat exhaustion are similar, but even more serious. Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of extreme dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heatstroke.
So, how do we add more water into our daily diet? It all depends. Most people say they drink too little or not enough, not really understanding the right quantity that is suitable for them. A few good cues that you are in the right zone of water intake include 1) not suffering from any of the dehydration issues listed above, 2) you have the right amount of energy and mental clarity, 3) and your urine is a faint yellow to clear. Here are a few tips and tools for increasing your water intake naturally.
Tips & Tools for Water Drinking:
Start with high quality water. I always recommend seeking out the best quality water you can find. We spend thousands on our horses, equipment and our attire, but we’ll often reach for low quality food or beverages out of mere convenience. Water is not the place to skimp. The best water to drink is naturally clean, pure, and full of naturally-occurring minerals. The unfortunate truth about tap water (aka municipal water) is that, in the U.S., it is processed, treated and disinfected with a variety of chemicals that can cause harm to our health. If you have access to a well, this is wonderful source of natural, clean water. I also recommend bottled artesian or spring waters which also come from natural sources (glass bottles over plastic are preferred and contain naturally-occurring minerals.) Why are minerals in our water important? They increase absorption of our water and assist nearly every function in your body. You’ll know that you’re not getting enough minerals with your water because you’ll be peeing constantly and still not feeling hydrated.
Can you believe cravings for sugar are more often than not your body’s way of saying, ‘hey, you’re dehydrated?’ Next time you’re craving sugar, check in and ask yourself if you’ve had water lately.
Make your water taste great. Simple fact is if your water is appealing, then you’ll be more apt to drink it. Adding slices of lemon, limes, oranges and grapefruits, cucumbers, mint, etc. to your water can make it much more appealing.
Start your day with 16oz (two cups) of water to jumpstart your day. I like to squeeze fresh lemon in my water first thing in the morning. We normally wake up dehydrated, so this will help you get off to a great start; will help to lubricate your intestines and prep your body for the first meal of the day.
Phone apps can help you develop this positive health habit. Install an app on your phone or watch to remind you when to drink and help you track your water intake.
Check out Daily Water, idrated and Waterlogged (all found in the iTunes app store).
To increase your daily water intake, why not add more water rich fruits & veggies to your routine? Remember that organic is best. According to researchers, reaching for a watermelon or cucumber after finishing an intense workout may hydrate your body twice as effectively as a glass of water. This is because water-rich fruits and vegetables provide you with natural sugars, amino acids, mineral salts and vitamins that are lost in exercise. Studies have found that this combination of nutrients helps hydrate the body and mind even more effectively than water or sports drinks. Eating fruits and vegetables high in water content can replenish your body without all the artificial colors, flavors and toxic artificial sweeteners that are commonly found in sports drinks. Additionally, consuming high water content foods is that they contain minimal calories and provide a feeling of fullness.
Water rich fruits: berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries; citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, lemons, limes and oranges, melons such as watermelon (92% water), cantaloupe and honeydew; stone fruits such as peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines; cherries, grapes, pineapples and bananas (did you know bananas contain more than 70% water?)
Water rich veggies: cucumber, lettuces, zucchinis, radishes, celery, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, peppers, spinach, broccoli, carrots, green peas
According to The American Council on Exercise has suggested the following basic guidelines for drinking water before, during, and after exercise:
Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before you start exercising
Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start exercising or during your warm-up
Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise
Drink 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise.
In lieu of sports or energy drinks - those beverages that will give you a false sense of energy and contain artificial flavors, colors and artificial ingredients - why not try the following options to upgrade your beverage line-up:
Coconut water - If possible, choose the unpasteurized versions or seek out real virgin coconut. Simply tap and drink. You’ll feel instantly energized and satisfied. Highly recommended if you’re teetering towards feelings of dehydration.
Watermelon water - Toss a couple of cups of cup up watermelon into a blender, squeeze in some lime and add some mint. Refreshing and tasty.
Homemade lemon-limeade – Start with high quality water, add the juice of lemons & limes, a pinch or two of Himalayan sea salt and add a natural sweetener of your choice (maple syrup, raw honey or stevia). Bonus: if you’re feeling stressed or anxious about your show day, add in some Calm from Natural Vitality and you’ll breeze through your show day with mental calm. It also aids in quick muscle recovery.
Important to remember after adding in all this water into your daily routine…you may want to avoid drinking too much prior to bedtime or you’ll be up all night making trips to the bathroom.