We know that water makes up about 60% of the human body, but do you know what water actually does for your body? When you sip on water, you get a host of amazing health benefits. Read on to get a crash course in all things hydration.
Health benefits of drinking water
Drinking water is extremely important to your health. Hydration goes well beyond just quenching your thirst. As part of your daily wellness routine, keeping up with your water intake also:
- Maintains your body temperature
- Detoxifies by eliminating waste throughout your body
- Helps your heart pump blood
- Aids in digestion and absorption
- Transports nutrients throughout the body
- Keeps skin glowy and healthy
Electrolytes. What are they, anyway?
Electrolytes are essential minerals the body uses for basic functions. The most widely known electrolytes are sodium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, and magnesium. They’re important for motor, digestive, and neurological functions, so optimal hydration keeps all these minerals in balance.
You lose a lot of electrolytes through sweat. During exercise or on hot days, you’ll need to do more than drink plain water to stay healthy. So, how can you replenish electrolytes? You get most of your daily electrolytes through food, so eating whole foods is a great place to start. If you’re sweating a lot, you may want to sip coconut water, 100% fruit juice, or a sports drink. But beware of some sports drinks. Many marketed electrolyte drinks are high in sugar and contain dyes and other chemicals that aren’t great in high doses.
Beyond H2O: surprising ways to stay hydrated
- Use a humidifier. Did you know your skin contains 64% water? Adding more water to your environment can actually help you keep hydrated. A humidifier is a great way to accomplish this, especially in dry desert and winter weather.
- Eat foods high in water content. Snacking on lettuce, watermelon, celery, cucumber, strawberries, and tomatoes can help you get extra hydration.
- Take care of your skin. Speaking of parched, you can also lose a lot of moisture through your skin. Applying lotions to your body helps protect your skin barrier to retain more moisture. Similarly, getting regular hydrating facials is a great way to get that fresh, supple, and glowy look.
How much water do you need a day?
The Mayo Clinic recommends drinking 3.7 liters (124 ounces) for men and 2.7 liters (92 ounces) for women. However, everyone is different! Your body size, activity levels, and overall health also affect how much water you need.
When is the best time to drink water?
Ideally, you should be sipping on water throughout the day. But there are a few times where you should pay extra attention to your hydration. Drinking a glass of water right when you wake up is a great way to start the day off right. You should also drink water after a massage and exercise or stretch to help keep soreness at bay. Having water with meals can aid in digestion as well. The weather matters, too. If it’s hot or you’re spending more time outside, you’ll need to increase your water intake.
Can you drink too much water?
Yes. It’s rare, but overhydration is possible! Drinking too much water overloads your kidneys and dilutes the sodium content in your blood. The resulting condition, called hyponatremia, can be life-threatening. This condition is rare in healthy adults, however.
How to tell if you’re dehydrated
There are a lot of tips for drinking enough water out there. But do you know how to tell if you’re dehydrated? Surprisingly, it’s more than just being thirsty. Becoming dehydrated can happen very quickly and is a very serious condition. So, paying attention to your body and knowing the signs of dehydration is important.
- Feeling over-tired or fatigued
- Dark urine
- Dry mouth
- Flushed skin
- Fast breathing and increased pulse
If you do find yourself dehydrated, it’s important to get some water or fluid quickly. To prevent dehydration, always have water nearby. This may require some planning ahead, especially for long trips.
Have trouble getting enough water? Try these tips.
Some people just can’t seem to meet their water intake needs. If you do not like sipping a glass of water, try these hydration tips to get more water.
- Sip through a (reusable) straw
- Infuse your water with lemon, strawberries, or cucumbers
- Change up your temperature by adding ice or sipping on hot herbal tea
- Get a cool water bottle to make hydration more fashionable
- Use a smartphone app to track your water intake
- Replace at least one beverage a day with water
- Reward yourself for hitting your hydration goals