Just about everyone has heard about the need to stay hydrated. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there concerning hydration. How much do you need to drink? What should you drink? When should you drink? It can all be a little overwhelming.
Fortunately, staying hydrated is not as complicated as it may first appear. A little knowledge and some helpful tips are all you need to ensure that your body always has the fluids it needs to stay healthy and fully functional.
Why is hydration important?
Your body is composed of around 60% water. Adequate hydration is necessary for your body to function properly. Water makes it possible for your body to maintain its temperature, to process waste products and for your joints to remain lubricated. When you do not consume enough water, your body becomes dehydrated, which can cause a host of different health problems if left unaddressed.
How much water do you need to drink?
When asked how much water a person should drink, most people instinctively respond, “Eight glasses a day.” But the truth is that each person is different, and how much water you need may vary from how much someone else needs. You also re-hydrate from drinking other fluids besides water, something that you can take into account when calculating your fluid intake.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the average man needs 15.5 cups of fluid per day, while the average woman needs 11.5 cups of fluid a day. Note the term “fluid”. Water is ideal for hydration, but other fluids also contribute to your overall level of hydration. Of course, those other fluids may also contain sugars, sweeteners, caffeine and other extras that you should limit for better overall health. Limiting your fluid intake to mostly pure water is the best way to avoid potentially harmful extras.
Know the signs of dehydration.
Dehydration can be dangerous, especially if left unaddressed. Mild dehydration can cause symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and a lessening of sweat and urine output. As dehydration gets worse, so do the symptoms. It can cause kidney failure, brain swelling and seizures.
When you notice early signs of dehydration, there is a simple solution – drink some water or other fluids. As long as you are not too dehydrated, fluid intake should be enough to reverse your symptoms.
Drink when you are thirsty, or even before.
Feeling thirsty is a sign your body gives you to consume more fluids, and you should listen to your body. You can avoid any risk of dehydration by regularly sipping water. But if you aren’t sipping water and you do get thirsty, don’t worry too much. An initial feeling of thirst does not mean you are seriously dehydrated. It just means your body is ready for more fluids, and is a natural indicator telling you to consume more water.
How to Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is not difficult if you adopt a few healthy habits, including:
Carry a reusable water bottle.
A stainless steel or glass water bottle is perfect for carrying your own fresh water supply around with you. Plastic is also an option, but stainless steel and glass tend to impart less flavor to your water and will not leach any unwanted chemicals into it.
With your own water source, you can drink whenever you feel even a little thirsty – guaranteeing that you will never become dehydrated.
Choose healthier fluids.
Purified water is your best hydration source. Although you can drink other fluids, your body will thank you if most of its hydration needs are met through consuming water.
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