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.
So how much is enough?
Your grandma’s advice to drink 8 glasses of water a day is generic and outdated.
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.
every season matters.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
Fruits with greater than 85% water include:
Tomatoes [technically a fruit ;) ]
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