A lot of people are shocked when they learn what their daily fluid needs actually are.
If you are one of those people, don't worry, you are not alone. 8+ cups/day seems like a lot, but it is important to remember that more than just water counts towards your total fluid needs, including hydrating foods and even coffee and tea.
Fluids are more important for your health than most of us realize. They play a vital role in maintaining our body temperature, lubricating our joints, and getting rid of waste products.
Unfortunately, many people do not drink enough fluids during the day. Some media sources state as many as 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, but there is no scientific evidence to support this stat.
It is true, however, that dehydration is a very common reason for hospital admission, and there is evidence to support that 17-28% of older adults in the US are dehydrated (1). Dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, and even dizziness.
When it comes to health, drinking enough water is a major player that's often overlooked.
We have 5 simple tips that can help.
Calculate your water needs now!
Why is Drinking Water Important?
There is more to adequate water intake and being hydrated than just what it can do for your skin, joints, and cells. Adequate hydration is essential for the proper function of every system in your body.
The first things that come to mind when it comes to water and hydration are probably getting rid of waste (urination) and regulating body temperature (sweating). But water does so much for our bodies beyond these to critical functions.
As we go through our days, our bodies use the fluids we consume to:
- Maintain our body temperature
- Lubricate our joints
- Get rid of waste products
- Help our bodies absorb nutrients
- Transport oxygen to our cells
- Tighten and loosen our muscles
- Wash away bacteria and other toxins
- Create saliva
- Develop new blood cells
- Mitigate the effects of stress
What happens if you don't drink enough water?
If we do not consume enough fluids, we can become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to all sorts of problems, including:
- Dry mouth
- Muscle cramps
- Decreased urine output
- Dry skin
- Increased heart rate
- Decreased blood pressure
By making sure your daily water intake is adequate, you can help prevent the likelihood of these problems.
Why do people struggle with drinking enough water?
Unfortunately, by the time your body notifies you that you're dehydrated by way of thirst, you're already somewhat dehydrated.
There are a variety of reasons why people struggle with staying hydrated. Two common complaints are some people simply don't like the taste of water, while others find it difficult to drink enough water throughout the day.
Others simply don't feel thirsty, so they're not drinking. But this can be a dangerous cycle because, by the time they actually feel thirsty, they are already dehydrated.
Some find that drinking water when they're not thirsty feels like a chore, but it's important to remember that it's crucial for our health, and once the habit is formed, it's fairly easy to maintain.
Some factors that affect our fluid needs and hydration status:
Weather: Hotter temperatures make you sweat more and thus causes you to lose more water. Still, even in cold weather, you can lose water through evaporation from our skin and breathing. This means that extreme climates play a role in how much water our bodies need.
Activity level: If you are more active, you need to be drinking more water to replenish what you've lost through sweat. If you're exercising or working at high intensity, in hot weather, or at a high elevation, you'll need to drink even more water to stay hydrated.
Age: Older adults tend to have a decreased sense of thirst, which can make it harder for them to stay hydrated. Additionally, their bodies may not retain water as well as they used to, leading to dehydration.
Certain medications: Some medications, such as diuretics and laxatives, can cause dehydration. Others, such as anticholinergics, can decrease the production of saliva, which can lead to a dry mouth. The side effects of some medications can also make it difficult to stay hydrated due to increased urination.
Dehydration can also be caused by underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart failure, and kidney disease. These conditions can lead to increased urination, which can dehydrate the body. Additionally, some medical conditions, aging, and medications can cause a decreased sense of thirst, which can make it difficult to stay hydrated.
5 Tips to Improve Your Daily Water Intake
Follow these tips to make sure you're staying hydrated throughout the day:
1. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morningYes, this means before your coffee and breakfast, and yes, every day. Why? Having water first thing in the morning helps to rehydrate your body and jump-start your metabolism, too. Overnight, we can become slightly dehydrated since we haven’t had anything to drink for 8 hours or so. Plus, if it's warm, we sweat a bit in our sleep.
The body does all sorts of repairs, rejuvenation, and cleansing while we sleep and needs water to do its job properly. If we don’t rehydrate right away in the morning, we may start our day feeling a bit sluggish. And rightfully so! The body does amazing things, from making billions of new cells to cleansing the liver, to digesting the food from the day before, and on and on. It needs water to do all of those things efficiently.
A helpful way to accomplish this is to keep your water bottle or a full glass of water at your bedside when you go to sleep. So when you wake up, before you do anything else, you have a glass waiting for you to drink.
2. Carry a water bottle with you everywhere
Okay, this one may sound simple, but if you consider buying yourself a water bottle you really enjoy, like something with a fun pattern, you’re more likely to drink it.
If it’s easy to grab and go, you’re more likely to drink from it. If it’s BPA free and good for the environment, even better!
YETIs and Stanleys are all the rage right now, but any water bottle will do; one that fits in the cup holder of your car is also a bonus. If you have a hard time drinking water throughout the day, try setting a reminder on your phone with the Trifecta app. Every hour or two, take a break and drink a full glass of water. You can even download apps that remind you to drink water.
3. Eat foods with a high water content
Fruits and vegetables are a great way to up your water intake because they contain a lot of water. Try to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Research has shown that eating at least 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables when compared to 2 servings daily is associated with 13% lower risk of death from any cause, 12% lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke, 10% lower chance of death from cancer and 35% lower risk of death from respiratory disease (1).
Some fruits and vegetables that are especially high in water are:
4. Flavor Your Water
If you’re not a big fan of water or have a hard time drinking it, try adding some flavor. This can be as simple as adding a slice of lemon or lime, or you can get more creative and make your own fruit-infused water.
Some people buy special fruit-infused water bottles, but they really aren’t necessary. Just add some sliced fruit or fresh herbs to a pitcher or mason jar of water and let it sit for a few hours. Some flavor combinations to try are:
- Strawberry and basil
- Cucumber and mint
- Watermelon and rosemary
- Lemon and ginger
You can also buy pre-made powders to stir in or try drops like Mio, which come in lots of different flavors.
5. Set Goals
Setting goals and tracking is a proven way to accomplish things and create lasting habits.
The Trifecta app for your mobile phone can help you track your water intake and set goals. It’s really easy to use, and you can even set reminders to drink water throughout the day.
The app also has a water log feature that allows you to see how much water you’ve drunk over the course of a week, two weeks, or a month.
Get started with your fitness journey today, and make sure to download the Trifecta app to help you stay on track!