Drink More Water

1Hey FitKit readers!  I’m Megan, the face behind Cookies & Crunches, a blog about turning small, healthy decisions into a lifestyle.  I’m hugely interested in food and fitness, and I try to share my stories about how easy it is to live a healthy, fun life.

One of the easiest ways to help make yourself just a little bit healthier is to drink more water.  Water is cheap, calorie-free, and easy to access, but a lot of us just don’t drink enough of it.  Admittedly, I go through some phases where I consciously drink a lot of water and others where I don’t.  I always drink a good amount of water while I’m at the gym (TMI alert – it’s essential because I sweat profusely), but I don’t always get enough outside of that.  The funny thing is that I can physically feel when I’m getting dehydrated – and it’s never fun.

The most recent reports say the average man should drink about 13 cups of water per day, and the average woman should drink about 9.  Those exercising regularly, living in hot climates, or trying to lose weight should drink even more than that.

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Drinking lots of water has all kinds of benefits, some of which include:

  • Improving body temperature regulation, metabolic function, and endocrine gland and liver function
  • Aiding in nutrient distribution throughout the body
  • Maintaining blood volume
  • Alleviating fluid retention (Yes, you read that right.)

 

But besides that, the body physically cannot adapt to dehydration – and dehydration affects every single function of your body.  Fluid loss of even 2% of body weight will negatively affect circulatory functions and decrease performance levels.

Some of the signs of moderate dehydration to watch out for include:

  • Dry skin or mouth
  • Constipation
  • Decreased urine output (or yellow pee… sorry, but it’s a good trick to know)
  • Headache, sleepiness, dizziness/lightheadedness

But the more serious symptoms can include:

  • Extreme thirst, irritability, and confusion
  • Very dry mouth, nose, and skin
  • Lack of sweating, urination, or tears
  • Sunken eyes
  • Shriveled, dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn’t “bounce back” when pinched into a fold
  • Low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and breathing
  • Fever, delirium, or unconsciousness

If you maintain a regular daily routine of exercise, water, and healthy food consumption, you probably don’t have much to worry about.

But hear this: you need to be proactive about it.  Thirst alone is a poor indicator of how much water is needed.  If you’re thirsty, you’re probably already dehydrated!

In an attempt to proactively increase my water intake, I’ve put myself back into a ‘consciously drink more water’ phase – and I’m hoping that it’s for good.  There are 128 ounces, or 16 cups, in a gallon, and that’s my goal for each day.  It seems like a lot when it’s all in one jug, but putting it all in one jug will help me monitor the intake.

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In case you’re looking to increase your water intake, here are some easy tips to help you do so:

  • Infuse your water with great-tasting fruits, veggies, and herbs like cucumber, lime, lemon, strawberries, pineapple, coconut, and mint. You can even freeze pieces of fruit and use them as ice cubes.
  • Mark a gallon jug (or whatever container you decide to use) with benchmarks you want to hit throughout the day.  If you haven’t reached your “noon” line by lunch, drink up!
  • Drink more tea.  Tea has all kinds of inherent benefits on its own, but it will also help you stay hydrated – just go easy on the cream and sugar.
  • Keep a water bottle with you at all times – in the car, on the couch, at the gym, at your desk.  Seeing the water there in front of you will remind you to drink it.
  • Use a straw.  I’m not sure if it’s just me, but drinking out of a water bottle with a straw always makes it easier.
  • Alternate between warm and cold water.  Cold water can speed up your metabolism, but warm water can aid in digestion.  Mixing it up will give you both benefits and keep you from getting bored.
  • Invest in a reusable water bottle or tumbler that you can refill.  Not only will you be helping the environment, but getting up to go refill at the sink/fridge/water cooler will also give you a little bit of extra exercise!

Of course, one of the downsides of drinking so much water is that (like me) you probably won’t be able to sleep, drive, attend a meeting, or go to the store without having to stop at a bathroom, but hey… at least we’ll be hydrated!

How much water do you drink per day?

Have you ever suffered from dehydration?


Healthy Living Tips