We’ve all heard it a million times… we need to drink our eight glasses of water a day. But sometimes you hear something so much that you stop listening. Just like when my kids say ‘mom’ a gajillion times a day, it eventually turns into background noise and I carry on until it turns into a scream. Same thing applies for drinking water, we often don’t drink enough, and don’t think twice about it until our body is screaming at us in pain from dehydration. I’m definitely guilty of this, so I thought I’d share a few things here to address common questions I get about how to stay properly hydrated.
Why do we need to drink water?
Water is the most important nutrient we can give our body. Our body is made up of 60% water and water supports every system inside our body. Water improves oxygen delivery to our cells, transports nutrients where they need to go, moistens oxygen for easier breathing, lubricates joints (arthritis anyone??), flushes toxins, regulates body temperature, and improves the body’s natural healing processes. While our body is capable of converting foods into the essential vitamins and minerals it needs, and storing them for future use, the body is not able to store water so it is critical that we drink water every day.
Increasing our water intake will provide more energy, less brain fog, improved mobility, easier digestion, reduced inflammation, and an overall feeling of wellness.
How do I know if I’m dehydrated?
Water is the most common nutritional deficiency in the American population, so chances are most of us could use more water. I use to think that if my mouth was dry that meant I needed to drink water. A simple reminder, right? Well actually a dry mouth is one of the last signs of dehydration. Our bodies are so smart, and they are always trying to tell us when something is out of balance. We just need to stop and listen.
If you find yourself with any of these symptoms, take the first step in treatment and increase your water consumption.
How much water should I drink a day?
The general rule of thumb has always been eight glasses a day, but it’s actually a little more specific for every body. To begin, you take your body weight and divide by two. So for somebody who weighs 150 pounds, their minimum water intake should be 75 ounces.
But we also need to take into consideration diuretics. Diuretics are beverages that increases the production of urine, essentially blocking the body’s ability to absorb any water from that drink. Samples of diuretics include: coffee, tea, juice, soda, energy drinks, and alcohol. It’s best to avoid these as much as possible, but lets be honest, I love my coffee and teas, and really, wine too. But all within moderation, and not on a daily basis. In an effort to maintain proper hydration while still drinking the occasional diuretic, simply calculate the number of ounces of diuretics and multiple by 1.5. That equals the number of ounces you need to ADD to your total above. So if I have an 8 ounce cup of coffee, then I need to add 12 ounces to the 75, for a total of 87 ounces of water. This is a great motivator to not drink that second cup of coffee, and makes me think twice when I’m asked at a restaurant what I’d like to drink.
Here’s a simple equation to figure out your body’s need:
How much is too much?
No matter what your body weight, 128 ounces (or 1 gallon) is the maximum amount of water one should drink in a day. Drinking more than that is taxing on the kidneys.
What type of water should I be drinking?
Water quality is equally important, especially for those of us living with compromised immune systems and autoimmune diseases. Water quality can be a post on its own, so I’ll try and keep this as an overview.
To start, do your own research to find the best source of water near you. Well water is great, but have it tested to make sure the quality is still good. Public artesian wells maybe another option in your area. Check out this website to find one near you, and bring your glass jugs and fill up!
Filtered water –
When a healthy well or artesian well isn’t an option, always drink filtered water when ever possible. There are so many chemicals added to our public water supplies, and with the best of intentions, however it is hard on our bodies to breakdown and detoxify these chemicals in our bodies. I’ll be sharing a story with you soon about how the fluoride in my water and toothpaste caused a five month long flare up of my Hashimotos. It seems so harmless, but we really need to take a proactive approach to our health by researching everything we are putting into our bodies.
I recommend starting by having your water supply tested, then you’ll know where to begin as far as looking for water filters. Brita’s are great if that’s all you have, and that is where we started too. However, they don’t filter out everything. We’ve since moved on to the Berkey Water Filter, and highly recommend it. I’ve also heard great things about AquaTru, but haven’t tried it personally. There are many options out there. Find one that’s right for you.
Ditch the plastic –
Whenever possible, choose to drink water out of a glass or stainless steel bottle. Chemicals from the disposable plastic water bottles leach off, especially when exposed to heat (think about being left in your car), and into your water. I do still have a couple reusable plastic water bottles, but they are BPA-Free and we only use them for the kids sporting events. Here’s a photo of one my favorites… mostly because of the straw.
I am way more likely to get all my water in throughout the day if I have one of these water bottles nearby. Call me lazy, but there’s just something about having to lift a glass up to drink it that inhibits my ability to get all my ounces in!
Don’t forget Electrolytes –
Water depends on electrolytes (minerals) for proper absorption in the body. These minerals become capable of conducting electricity when dissolved in water, and are responsible for controlling water osmosis between cells, maintain pH balance in the body, and serve as cofactors needed for optimal activity of enzymes. Think of them like a human car battery — it needs battery acid and water to send electrical current throughout the car (body).
A simple and natural way to increase electrolyte function in your body is to add a pinch of unrefined sea salt to your glass of water. No sugary gatorade needed! This essential need for minerals is another reason why I do not recommend drinking distilled water. The process of distilling water removes essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium from the water.
I don’t like the taste of water, what can I do?
I hear this question a lot, especially from those that drink soda on a regular basis. And just so we are clear, diet soda doesn’t count as water either, even though it has zero calories. Diet soda will actually make you thirstier, but more on soda another day.
My favorite tricks for when just plain water isn’t cutting it:
Sparkling flavored water (think La Croix)
Fruit/veggie enhanced water (lemon, lime, berries, cucumber, mint etc in the bottom of your glass with water poured over)
Decaffeinated herbal tea
If you have some favorites to add this list, please comment below! We’d all love some new ideas.