Staying Hydrated Throughout The Year

Staying Hydrated Throughout The Year

insight from nutritionist Janine Higbie

Why is hydration so critical?

Humans can survive for weeks without food but a mere few days without water.  

“Water is an essential nutrient, vital to many life-sustaining body processes including temperature regulation, delivering nutrients to cells, removing waste, lubricating joints, digestion, and maintaining blood pressure.”


So how much is enough?

Your grandma’s advice to drink 8 glasses of water a day is generic and outdated. 

variables

Part of the problem lies in the sheer number of variables that affect water needs: age, activity level, diet, humidity, and temperature.  Without clear guidelines, should we just listen to our bodies?  Unfortunately, no.  Thirst is a symptom of dehydration.  If you wait until you are thirsty to drink, you will be playing catch up and may already be experiencing side effects of mild dehydration like fatigue, changes to mood and concentration, or headaches. 

A good general rule of thumb

Drink the number of fluid ounces equal to half your body weight (in pounds) daily. For example, a 150 lb. person should drink 75 ounces/day.  But that number is just a starting point.  Factors that increase your fluid needs include increased activity, higher temperatures, low humidity, alcohol intake, high protein diet, high salt diet, high fiber diet, low-calorie diet, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, pregnancy, nursing, and older age.

Photo courtesy of Boxed Water is Better

Photo courtesy of Boxed Water is Better


every season matters.

warmer months

Consuming extra fluids during the hot summer months is important to replenish water losses due to increased perspiration. Without doing so, we are unable to regulate body temperature and prevent dangerously overheating. 

colder months

Although it is not often discussed, dehydration in the winter is also a real concern.  Cold air has significantly less water vapor, which means we lose more water through respiration and from our skin.  Perspiration in cold, dry air evaporates quickly so people are often unaware of how much they are sweating.  High altitude cold-weather activities like skiing further increase risk of dehydration as the air has lower oxygen concentration and lower humidity.  This causes us to breath more deeply and rapidly, resulting in increased respiratory water losses.

  

Tip To Stay Hydrated. Anytime of the Year.

hdyrating sources

Plain water is king.  It provides hydration without any fillers, flavorings or calories. That said, all beverages (coffee, tea, milk, juice, and though it pains me to say, technically soda) count towards your daily fluid goals, as does the hydration provided by foods like vegetables, fruits, broth, and gelatin.  The only fluid that doesn't count – alcohol.  Alcohol has a dehydrating effect because it interferes with hormonal signals to your kidneys to reabsorb water instead of excreting it.  As a result, you are left with more trips to the bathroom and a greater risk for dehydration.

Photo: David Gannon

Photo: David Gannon

Hydration after physical ACTIVITY

With intense physical activity lasting over an hour, you should replenish electrolytes as well as water lost in sweat. Electrolytes are involved in maintaining fluid balance and pH, nerve signaling, muscle contraction and relaxation, as well as regulating heart rate.  

“Instead of reaching for sports drinks full of sugar, coloring, and additives, I recommend a homemade electrolyte drink of filtered water, pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt, pinch of baking soda, juice of 1 lemon or orange and 1 tsp honey.  You can also substitute ½ of the water with unsweetened coconut water, which naturally contains some electrolytes and sugar.”

homemade electrolyte drink

  • Filtered Water [OR 1/2 Filtered Water + 1/2 Unsweetened Coconut Water]

  • Pinch of Himalayan Sea Salt

  • Pinch of Baking Soda

  • Juice of 1 Lemon / Orange

  • 1 tsp Honey

Mix all ingredients together + enjoy!


hydrating foods

It is estimated that our diet provides about 20% of our water intake.  Eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, will also help with your hydration goals. 

Vegetables with greater than 90% water include:

  • Lettuce

  • Celery

  • Bok choy

  • Radishes

  • Cucumber

  • Zucchini

  • Watercress

  • Bell peppers

  • Asparagus

  • Portobello mushrooms

  • Swiss chard

  • Cabbage

  • Okra

  • Cauliflower

  • Eggplant

  • Spinach

  • Broccoli



Fruits with greater than 85% water include:

  • Watermelon

  • Strawberries

  • Grapefruit

  • Cantaloupe

  • Peaches

  • Asian pears

  • Blackberries

  • Papaya

  • Nectarines

  • Plums

  • Oranges

  • Cranberries

  • Apricots

  • Pineapple

  • Raspberries

  • Apples

  • Blueberries

  • Tomatoes [technically a fruit ;) ]

 

VEGETABLES
fruits

I advise my clients to meet their daily fluid goals by carrying a one litter glass or stainless steel water bottle.  Drink one liter by lunch, refill and drink another liter in the second half of your day. You will meet most of your daily hydration needs with water and any additional fluids from the rest of your diet will be a bonus.

Adding fruit is a great way to make regular water more enjoyable, and added nutritional benefits. Adding a few edible flowers makes for aesthetically pleasing water, whether its for yourself or when entertaining.

Above two photos: Diana Davis Creative

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