The Wonders of Water
Carbs, fat, protein, vitamins and minerals get a lot of press, and don’t get me wrong they are all important, but the most important nutrient for your body is WATER! If you absolutely had to, you could go without those other nutrients for weeks. It would really stink but you could survive. If, on the other hand, you had to go without water for just a few days, you would be in serious trouble!
In my experience a lot of people I meet are under hydrated, if not straight up dehydrated. Our modern diet has shifted away from fresh, moisture-rich foods to (relatively) dry, processed foods. On top of that a lot of people are quenching their thirst with things like soda, energy drinks, coffee, tea, fruit drinks, fruit juices and even alcohol. Just because they are liquid does not mean they treat your body the same. The high levels of sugar, caffeine and/or alcohol have a diuretic effect on the body. This means it takes more water for your body to process them than the amount of water they contain. In other words, it results in a net loss of water from your body!
So what are the benefits of staying well hydrated?
- Water helps carry nutrients throughout the body
- Water improves oxygen delivery to your cells
- Water helps remove waste and toxins from the body
- If you are under-hydrated, the body tends to hold onto waste until it knows there will be more water. In other words…constipation.
- Water cushions joints and bones
- Connective tissue (i.e., cartilage) contains a lot of water. The less water you drink, the more your joints shrink and the more likely your bones are to bang together. Ouch!
- Water helps your body stay balanced and helps it heal after injury or illness
- Water helps maintain energy levels
- Dehydration leads to fatigue
How much should you be drinking?
The basic equation I use is this:
- Your weight in pounds, divided by two = the number of ounces of water you should be shooting for each day
- Example: 150 pounds/2 = 75 ounces of water/day*
*I suggest a cap of 100 ounces per day, unless you are working or exercising in conditions that take a lot of moisture from your system…i.e., you’re wicked sweaty. Drinking too much water can have the effect of pulling nutrients from your body before you have a chance to use them.
So, this amount of water may seem like a lot, but it’s a guideline, not a law set in stone. It is a reminder that one or two glasses of water a day is NOT OK! If you currently drink too little water, please don’t try and make the shift from 10 ounces to 60 ounces overnight. You’ll be constantly running to the bathroom to pee! Instead, gradually up your intake over the next few weeks or months. Carry a water bottle with you, set reminders on your phone, set up a routine that you can easily follow.
I work from home most of the time, so I keep a mug next to our Brita water filter. Every time I walk past it, I drink some water. Sometimes it’s a full mug, sometimes it’s a sip, but I am ensuring I drink water throughout the day.
Again, when I say water I mean water, not Gatorade, flavored water, Red Bull, juice, coffee, tea, Kool-Aid, Coke, Pepsi, Snapple or any other sugary, caffeinated drinks. If you are drinking any of those (and honestly, I hope you are not!) you will need to increase your water intake even more to make up for their diuretic effects.
Lastly, drink the best water you have access to. Tap water, in most areas, is just fine. If you can filter your water, great! If you can’t, don’t stress. Staying hydrated is the key here. Bottled water is fine, but I do not suggest getting all of your water from a plastic bottle. The chemicals in plastic can leach into the water, especially if heated (a warm day in your car) and in my opinion the bottles are wasteful (remember a healthier planet means a healthier you and vice versa).
Here’s a short video to help you figure out if you’re properly hydrated:
So, now that you’ve finished reading this post, by all means have a glass of water!
What are your tips and tricks for remembering to drink enough water each day?