The Water Factor

Moving into the summer season (yahoo!!!) the "big issue" arises: How do I stay hydrated? -- what does staying hydrated even mean?

Hydration...right. Well if you've ever asked a doctor he probably looked at you and was like "You'll know you're hydrated when you pee clear." Is it that super simple?  Okay, but what about the USA Federal Government's long-time recommended 8-10 cups of water per day, and the Institute of Medicine recommendation that women need about 2.7 liters, and men 3.9 - about 25% of which comes from your food (which still leaves over 1.5 liters each!?)

If you're like me, drinking that much water per day is, well, intimidating. How can I consume my 3 herbal teas and eat and still have room for a 2-liter bottle of water??!! I tried to get through 1 liter once in the middle of winter when I was eating lots of steamed veggies and soups, and man oh man, I felt sick and bloated and woozy.  That's because that much water was an overload for my body at that time. When I was bartending until 4am, with no AC, in the middle of July - well that 2 liter bottle of water I went through wasn't nearly enough! 

What I'm saying is that it really comes down to what you need as an individual that day, based on your activity, environment, and diet. In simple terms: If you're thirsty, drink water. If you're not, don't. BUT this means you have to be checking in with yourself on the regular, assessing what you need in those moments, and taking action to respond to where you're at, as necessary.

When starting out, I recommend setting an alarm for every 2-3 hours on your phone to remind you to check in - take 60 seconds to ask yourself these questions:

  1. How am I feeling?
  2. Am I thirsty?
  3. Am I hungry? 
  4. When was the last time I used the bathroom?

This can really help you to remember just basic self-care that we can often forget in the bustle of our busy lives. But, by monitoring yourself on the regular you can really start to tune into your body and what you need, and soon you'll be doing it without a little reminder alarm.

Here are a few resources on how to recognize if you might be dehydrated, and how you can incorporate more hydration into your life without having to spend a lot of brainpower: 

Signs of mild to moderate dehydration:

  1. Dryness in your mouth/throat
  2. Headache
  3. Concentrated urine, or lack of
  4. Swollen tongue
  5. Muscle cramps

Some simple ways to incorporate hydration into your everyday routine:

  1. Start your morning with a glass of water before breakfast (room temperature or warmer is optimal)
  2. Swap out your afternoon coffee for pureed cucumber and mint, diluted with water and an apple.
  3. Have a vegetable (or miso!!) soup with, or in replacement of, one of your meals.
  4. After dinner and before bed, have an herbal tea or another cucumber-mint water
  5. Make it a point to eat fresh fruits as snacks (if you need them) throughout the day
  6. Cut down on your meat and processed foods intake during the warmer months in favor of vegetables, beans, and whole-grains.

***And remember, ultimately, when drinking water smaller sips will ALWAYS be better than a big long chug -- because your mouth absorbs a significant amount of water right away, and you'll also avoid those belly-issues.***

Down in the comments section, let me know how your alarm is working for you!

Rock on in radiant health,