With summer starting to heat up it is more important than ever to stay properly hydrated. Now, this isn’t news to anyone, we all know that water is important. But why is it so important? What happens if we are dehydrated and not getting enough water?
Let’s look at some of the key benefits of drinking ample mounts of water.
Dehydration is a common cause of headaches. In the majority of cases, rehydrating can provide relief from a headache. For lots of people, dehydration can trigger a migraine. Be sure to keep your water by your side if you are prone to getting migraines or headaches.
A 2014 study found that when people who regularly drank less than 1200ml of water per day increased their intake to over 2 liters per day, they experienced significantly less confusion, fatigue, and sleepiness. Now it’s a different story in the other group. Participants who regularly drank between two to four liters of water per day were told to restrict their intake to one liter per day. They experienced negative effects on mood, decreased calmness, and more negative emotions.
Aiding Weight Loss
Yes, simply drinking more water can help with weight loss. Studies show that people who are on diets lose more weight when they also increase their water intake. Studies show that when people go on lower calorie diets, those who drink 500 ml of water before each of their three daily meals for 12 weeks lose about 4.5 more pounds on average than people who did not drink the additional water.
Dehydration has deleterious effects on cognition. Numerous studies show that people drinking water during cognitive tasks perform much better than those who don’t. These effects have been seen in both adults as well as children. Research suggests that even moderate dehydration can worsen cognitive function in the short-term. Keep that water close by while you’re working or studying.
How much water should you be drinking?
As a general guideline, drink half of your weight, in pounds, in ounces of fluid. So, as an example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you should drink 80 ounces of liquids per day. Drink a bit more if you’re sweating or if you’re drinking caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, alcohol or soda. Herbal teas can be fine but caffeinated beverages like these are diuretics which can cause some additional water loss.
If you want your water more palatable, try adding a squeeze of fresh citrus like lemons, lime or even grapefruit.
Infused waters can also be quite nice. Just make sure to leave them infusing overnight or longer. Adding some ginger or apple to water for a few minutes is nothing. Let it sit for hours and the flavor is much more pronounced.
One of my favorite tips I picked up here in Thailand is making ice cubes with coconut water. Pop a couple of coconut ice cubes into a tall glass of water is one of the most refreshing drinks after a hot day out.
Eat some watery food. Yes, about 80% of our hydration comes from liquids. The rest comes from the foods that we eat, especially fruits and veggies. Cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, watermelon, spinach, strawberries, broccoli, and grapefruit are all great choices to get a bit of extra hydration in.
So with this in mind, make sure to stay hydrated this summer, especially if you are spending lots of time sweating outside. Headaches, decreased urination and darker colored urine are all good signs that you likely need more water. Remember that by the time you notice a feeling of thirst, you are already dehydrated.
- By Dr. Tal Friedman, ND at Chiva-Som.